As Jesus and his disciples approached Jerusalem, they came to the towns of Bethphage and Bethany on the Mount of Olives. Jesus sent two of them on ahead. "Go into that village over there," he told them. "As soon as you enter it, you will see a young donkey tied there that no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks, 'What are you doing?' just say, 'The Lord needs it and will return it soon.'"
— Mark 11:1-3 NLT
Jesus knows the flow of events that will follow. He knows what awaits him in Jerusalem: reception, rejection, crucifixion, and resurrection. He goes to face this future trusting that his Father is in control. He has warned his followers at least three specific times that he will go to Jerusalem and be rejected and crucified.* Now, he sets the plan in motion. He sends his followers to get the young donkey that will begin the last phase of his journey of sacrifice and salvation. He embraces that future knowing the cost. Along the way, he will have opportunities to turn away from that future — he could choose not to not ride into Jerusalem on the young donkey, he could avoid confrontations with the powers that be in Jerusalem, he could opt out of the sacrifice while in the Garden of Gethsemane, he could call down angels to save him, he could refuse to go to the cross, and he could come down from the cross to prove his identity. Yet, in each case and at every crossroad of decision, Jesus embraces the will of God, accepts his role as the sacrificial Son, and fulfills the prophets' words. The cross will be no accident. His sacrifice will not be something forced on him. His rejection and humiliation will not be some surprise over which he has no control. Jesus has come "to serve and to give his life as a ransom" for sinners (Mark 10:45) ... even the very sinners who will mock, abuse, and murder him. This future is the one Jesus embraces as he sends his followers for the young donkey. He has need of this young donkey to begin this final part of the journey that will ultimately take him to the cross and bring his grace to us.
* See the Related Scripture Readings below.
O Father, I am overwhelmed by the love that Jesus has for me. I know that as he sends for the young donkey, he knows the journey to the cross has begun in earnest. He knows he will pay for my sins with his life, his dignity, his agony, and his blood. I bow in humble appreciation, adoration, and awe. As the old hymn reminds me, "Love so amazing, so divine, demands my life, my soul, my all." These I offer to you with all my heart. In Jesus' name. Amen.