Posted by: pmarkrobb | April 6, 2020

the facet of the two who’s

Yesterday’s focus was on a donkey, and its story began with Jesus riding into the city of Jerusalem at the beginning of the Passover festival week. But that is not actually where that story began. In the first three verses of the eleventh chapter of his gospel, Mark writes …

And when they drew near to Jerusalem, to Beth′phage and Bethany, at the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples, and said to them, “Go into the village opposite you, and immediately as you enter it you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever sat; untie it and bring it. If any one says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ say, ‘The Lord has need of it and will send it back here immediately.’” (RSV)

Interesting instructions. Wouldn’t you have loved being one of the two He sent? Jump a few days and chapters ahead and we find Jesus sending out two again on another sacred mission with interesting instructions.

And he sent two of his disciples, and said to them, “Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you; follow him, and wherever he enters, say to the householder, ‘The Teacher says, Where is my guest room, where I am to eat the passover with my disciples?’ And he will show you a large upper room furnished and ready; there prepare for us.”
Mark 14:13-15 (RSV)

Of course, the disciples went and found everything as Jesus had said and prepared the room. That is where I had left things in all my previous considering of this very specific preamble to the sacred Seder Jesus would eat with His disciples. Then this year, I experienced an invitation to hold the lens a bit closer and found a brilliant facet of the Passion narrative that had completely escaped my notice. The facet of two beautiful who’s.

I am very careful to not “fill in any blanks” when it comes to scripture, so please let me be clear. If it doesn’t say it, they are my thoughts and words not His (and therefore, are not to be taken as truth). From my study of the story, I believe it is safe to assume that sometime during the week, Jesus stole away for a sacred appointment. He wasn’t going to see a man about a horse. He went to him about a house. Jesus needed a safe space to celebrate the Seder with His disciples. It was a deeply intentional meal that would be infinitely more so that year. And its setting must be in proper proximity to the Garden, where the events of His dying would commence. He knew just the right place, because He knew the heart of the householder. I would be very careful to compare the two, but this seems to me to be fundamentally like God knowing that He could suggest Job when Satan came to Him one day with a restless report of having roamed the earth (obviously looking for someone to torment).

The mood in Jerusalem was nothing like Parade Day just a few days earlier. The leadership’s anger with Jesus was reaching a fevered pitch, and their plot to kill Him was brewing and bubbling. While they had not yet been very successful in turning the hearts of the people against Jesus, everyone knew it was terribly dangerous to be near Him let alone be found aiding Him.

Answering the knock at the door in that toxic and tumultuous time was the householder. “Of course, Jesus. Come. I have the perfect place.” the householder says during their sacred sit down. It is likely there was no hesitation in his answer to the Master’s request, but there was caution in their planning. There would need to be a signal. The two that Jesus would send could not be so bold and plain as to walk up to the householder’s front door and knock. But what?

The householder thinks and then suggests (I wonder if it really happened like that. Doesn’t it just seem like Jesus to allow the householder to participate in His work that way?). “Tell them to look for a man carrying a jar of water.” Jesus knows how purposeful the suggestion is. We might wonder, “Okay, how exactly are the disciples supposed to notice a random guy carrying a water jug?! Isn’t that like telling someone to walk to Wall Street and look for a guy carrying a briefcase?” Except, it’s not. In that time and place, women would have been the ones carrying a jar of water. Men carried wine (in wineskins, not jars), so a man carrying a water jar would be unique enough to spot and probably not so much so to draw great attention. “Perfect,” the Master said (I think it would be just like Jesus to use that word).

It’s easily argued that the importance of the Seder far outweighs this clandestine detail of its preparation, but to God (and his Son) no detail is insignificant. As we’ve moved the lens a bit closer to the story, I pray that you now also see the deeply beautiful heart and obedience of the householder. One might consider this householder the most minor among the story’s supporting cast, but like the innkeeper on the occasion of our dear Savior’s birth, Jesus knocked at his door looking for welcome … and that is nothing resembling minor.

Before I am all done with this particular facet, let’s also quickly consider the man carrying the jar. We don’t know who he is, but is he any less important than the householder in this story? Maybe one could argue degrees, but he was used of God in redemption’s narrative. Did he look at the householder cross-eyed when he heard the request? Did he ask any questions, or did he only listen? It’s very likely the householder told him nothing of the reason he was being asked to do this. The less the man knew, the better for him and the success of the mission. In all of this, the man carrying the jar was a nameless man who was asked to do something very specific and unusual without knowing why and was simply obedient to the details of the ask.

O Father, may I equally and glad-heartedly long to be either the householder or the man carrying the jar in the things you have authored for me to do. May I answer the door when You knock and simply obey without needing to know why. And may I do so, caring nothing for my place in Your story and desiring only to bring You glory. Amen and amen.


Responses

  1. Thanks so much for sharing this!

  2. “Simple Obedience” flows from relationship…When we trust the Son the way He trusted the Father it all really does become much more simple.


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