Luke is home for Spring Break which is a treat. He only lives five miles away but I rarely see him. I wasn’t sure if he’d peel himself out of bed to go to church with us or not, but he did. This made me even happier.
It was Palm Sunday and when the little kids marched into church singing and carrying their Palm fronds you’d have thought I was watching a Hallmark commercial. I teared up immediately. It seems like just yesterday Luke and Chase were young enough for that kind of processional. Now they tower over me.
I dried my eyes but the Holy Spirit got me again when the Scripture for the day was being read. Our pastor had chosen Luke 19. The citation leaped at me from the overhead screen. In just a few days we’d be celebrating Luke’s nineteenth birthday. The year he was born his birthday fell on Palm Sunday—the start of Holy Week. His Great Aunt and Uncle had his name registered in the prayer book at the Washington National Cathedral in honor of it.
All these fond memories raised my God consciousness which must be why I noticed something in this Scripture I never had before. It had to do with the acquisition of the donkey colt for Jesus to ride into Jerusalem. I’ve probably heard this story forty times but never actually thought about how remarkable this detail is.
Jesus is getting ready to go to Jerusalem where He knows He will be crucified. To fulfill the prophecy about this He sends two disciples ahead of him to secure a colt that has never been ridden before.
In today’s world that’s akin to sending a couple of your friends to get you a new free bike. It’s hard to picture but not impossible. Below Luke’s dorm there’s a cycling shop with unused bikes outside. However, the story becomes implausible when you remove one and tell the owner, like the disciples did, “The Lord needs it.” Now we’re on the verge of a scene. One where there’s pushing and shoving and the police get called.
In Luke 19 though, that’s not the case. The owners of the donkey let it go no questions asked. One possible explanation for this is that they knew who “The Lord” was and decided that merited forfeiting their colt. They also may have trusted it would be returned to them. Still, it was no small leap of faith. In an agricultural society a donkey had great value—like a bike would today to someone without a car.
My heart was pierced because I’ve never been asked to sacrifice something that valuable. Thinking about this, I turned and looked at Luke and asked myself what if I’d been asked to sacrifice him. What if on the Palm Sunday he was born two nurses had come into the room and said, “The Lord needs him,” and had taken him out of the bassinet.
Not even the fatigue of having given birth would have kept me in bed. I would have been running down the hall with my hospital gown flying open in the back to get my baby. It’s a laugh to think about but seriously, even the nuns who were nurses couldn’t have convinced me to let him go.
Now as ridiculous as my imagination seems to be, I’m sitting in church with the realization that this is just what God did. The world needed a Savior and He turned his Son over to it. He let the religious leaders of the day take him and crucify him.
It’s not that this thought hasn’t ever crossed my mind, but Sunday morning my heart broke about it. Because, while I’d like to think I’d surrender just about anything asked of me, there are some things off limits. Two for sure—my children, even if He promised to return them.
I came home from church convicted by the thought and dropped the penny I found in the parking lot in my penny bowl. When it clanked I thought, if only I could have the same loose grasp on everything in my life like I do the pennies I find and don’t keep. I happily give them away believing they’re only meant to pass through my hands.
As a parent I think this is attitude we’re supposed to have with your kids but the world makes it hard. You know they’re going to be crucified out there in some way, so you cling to them. Yet the reality is we don’t actually “own” our children. They are just ours to raise and like Mary didn’t stop Jesus from being sacrificed to serve a great purpose, neither should we.
I don’t like the thought and I’m thankful it hasn’t been asked of me—but if that day ever comes I hope I can remember Luke 19 and let go. In the meantime however, the very least I can do is not wrestle with the smaller sacrifices I am called to bear that pale in comparison.