As a pastor, I have preached many times on the various Gospel texts related to Palm Sunday. Here is an excerpt from a sermon on Luke 19:28-48….
The one sentence that most captures my attention in this passage consists of just four words: “The Lord needs it.” When Jesus sent his disciples into the village to get him a colt to ride on, he told them that if anyone asked why they were taking the colt they should reply, “The Lord needs it.”
What an amazing statement that is, when we realize who said it. The New Testament reveals Jesus to be God in human flesh. How can it be that the God of the universe needs anything? Diogenes Allen answers this question in this way in his book Finding Our Father….
He [God] humbles himself in that the goal of the universe is that he share his life with us, and we in him share our lives with each other. That is to say, he now needs us in order for there to be a kingdom of God…He neither needed to make realities nor to give them and himself a destiny to dwell in one another; for he had a complete and full life in himself without any other reality but his own. But by so doing, he now has a dependence on us for the consummation of creation and for his own satisfaction, one freely undertaken and because freely undertaken more profoundly humble and loving.
Thus, God chooses to need us. He does not have an absolute need of us, for he is complete in himself. However, when God chose to create us, then he also chose to need us in order to fulfill his plan. When God took on flesh in Jesus of Nazareth, he made it even clearer that he was choosing to need us because Jesus in his human flesh needed the help of others to carry out his purpose.
The story is told of a small European village where there stood a statue of Jesus carved out of stone. Just so, the statue had stood for centuries, the prized possession of the entire village. However, during the war, this village was bombed and the statue of Jesus was damaged. The hands of the statue, which once reached out in loving openness to all who passed by, now were broken off. For many days, the villagers debated with one another about how the statue should be restored. Finally, it was decided that the statue should be left as it was, without hands, in commemoration of the suffering that this village had endured. The villagers placed a small plaque at the foot of the statue that read, “I have no hands but yours.”
The words are reminiscent of a poem written by St. Teresa of Avila, a Carmelite nun who lived from 1515 to 1582….
Christ has no body but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
Compassion on this world,
Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good,
Yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world.
Yours are the hands, yours are the feet,
Yours are the eyes, you are his body.
The Lord chose in creation, and in his incarnation, to need you and me to complete the work of his kingdom. He still chooses to need us.
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