As a journalist I have long professionally employed the half-a-dozen “honest working men” Rudyard Kipling praised in his famous poem: who, what, why, where, when, and how. As a Christian, I’m still coming to terms with the fact that one of the six often gets retired in my personal life. Why.
That’s a statement that leads to a question. Why does God so often not tell me why? Why does Jesus sometimes seem to be simply obtuse?
Looking ahead to Easter this week, I think of the time He was preparing to enter Jerusalem. He sends two of the lads into a village with instructions to come back with a donkey and a colt that they’ll find. Oh, and if anyone tries to stop them, they’re just to say, “The Master has need of it” (Matt. 21: 1-3).
Don’t try that at your favorite Hertz or Enterprise.
Such lack of clarity would have really bent me out of shape. Why the mystery? I’d have wanted a better explanation to offer anyone who confronted me, or at least maybe a Donkey Rental receipt to show I was legit.
Maybe Jesus needed to keep things under wraps because He was concerned about attempts to disrupt His triumphal entry. After all, He was similarly vague a few days later when it came to sending out folks to prepare for the Last Supper. Perhaps security had to be high.
We don’t know for sure, but given what we do know about other conversations the disciples had when they thought they were out of Jesus’ earshot, it’s a fair bet that the two who were sent off to get the transportation might have grumbled a bit about the lack of adequate explanation. I know I would have.
It has something to do with control, our need to know, to understand, and tacitly to approve of what Jesus has in mind. As though we reserve the right to grant Him permission to do things His way, once we have evaluated the proposal.
But He wants surrender. A Nikene creed, if you will: Just Do It.
The donkey-delivery-disciples may have muttered and wondered, but they did what Jesus asked. And though it didn’t make much sense to them, their simple act of obedience would help bring about the fulfillment of ancient prophecies. They provided the means by which Jesus entered Jerusalem just as Zechariah 9:9 had foretold, “riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”
The reluctant lesson for me is that I don’t always need to know how what He is saying is for the best, I just need to do my best to do what He is saying. Who, what, where, when, and how—even with no why. The result may be something He has had planned for a long time, even though I’m clueless.