And when he had thus spoken, he went before, ascending up to Jerusalem.And it came to pass, when he was come nigh to Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount called the mount of Olives,
he sent two of his disciples, saying,
“Go ye into the village over against you; in the which at your entering ye shall find a colt tied, whereon yet never man sat: loose him, and bring him hither.And if any man ask you, Why do ye loose him? thus shall ye say unto him, Because the Lord hath need of him.”
(Luke 19: 28-31)
Have you ever had a Bible verse hit you in a completely new way? This one did a couple years ago, and that “new way” has stuck with me ever since.
At face value, it’s a simple description. Upon entering Jerusalem, Jesus commissioned two of His disciples to untie a colt and bring it for Him to ride on. Then He adds:
And if any man ask you, Why do ye loose him? thus shall ye say unto him, Because the Lord hath need of him.
Pretty simple. But broaden the meaning outside the immediate context, and maybe you’ll see why it got me so excited:
“Why do you loose him?”
“Because the Lord hath need of him.”
Oh, yeah! That’s a darned good reason to be about the business of
Loving Means Loosing
Anyone who ministers to people bound by a life-dominating sin gets the “Why do you do it?” question sooner or later. Work with people wrestling with addiction, or an ungodly habit, or destructive relational patterns, and you’re bound to have someone ask why.
Sometimes the question’s sincere, asked by someone puzzled at such an effort. (Like, “Why bother. Don’t you know it’s a lost cause?”) Sometimes the question comes from a more hostile place, as in “Why encourage someone to be anything other than who they really are?” (As if we’re defined by a sin the way we’re defined by race or sex.)
Well, “The Lord hath need of him” has become a good enough rationale for me. People like me who were losers get loosed, and often (frequently, in fact) the Loosed become Loosers themselves.
The Lord Has Love for Him —
Of course, that’s not the first or essential reason for doing all you can to help someone out of bondage. God hates sin and its effect on His creation, wanting a relationship with us, but unable to have one if the sin in our lives isn’t dealt with, since light and darkness can’t commune. There’s a primary reason for seeing someone loosed – because their bondage is
Then there’s the impact of their sin on their spouse, or loved ones, friends, or others. Surely the man using porn, for example, isn’t doing so in a vacuum. Someone else is affected, whether the spouse who’s crushed by his lust, or the kids who lose respect for their father, or even the porn performer who’s encouraged to continue her suicidal career because guys like him support it. Those are excellent reasons for loosing him.
—and the Lord has Need of Him
But there’s also God’s purposes in the person’s life to consider, the potential which is hindered or even aborted because the vessel is unclean, thereby limited, thereby unfit to be used by the Potter who fashioned him with something better in mind.
When sin binds a person, it also binds God intentions for that person, choking her or his potential, and ripping all of us off. Because just as we all benefit when someone becomes what they’re meant to be, we likewise lose when someone doesn’t.
That’s why I see people in bondage the way I see a good racecar needing special work. It’s intended to speed around the track, but something’s gone wrong, making it sputter when it should zoom. At which point the driver pulls it over for a pit stop, not just because the vehicle is inherently valuable, but also because it has potential. Its purposes are waiting to be fulfilled, if only the adjustments – the “loosening”, if you will – can be made.
God is glorified when someone in sin is loosed, and His purposes, once thwarted by bondage, can now move ahead.
The Privilege of Purposes
None of which implies, despite our common understanding of the phrase “The Lord hath need of him”, that God literally needs us to do the job. Surely He could do it better on His own, or by employing angels rather than humans. So God’s use of us hardly suggests His dependence on us.
Still, He does condescend to let us be part of what He does, and there’s a mystery to sink your teeth into. He lets us be used by Him to do what He could do far better without us, most likely because His love for us includes a desire to unite us not just with who He is, but also with what He does.
So in that sense, yes, “The Lord hath need of him.” Only because the Maker wishes to do something with a certain tool, but to do so, whatever needs correcting in the tool has to be dealt with first.
“Loose him, because the Lord hath need of him.” How many times has that command gone out regarding lost causes from Man’s perspective, but, in God’s eyes, future evangelists, pastors, musicians, Presidents, and parents. God saw both the rubble and the results, and said, “Loose Me that tool over there. I have purposes in mind.”
I should know, being a tool fashioned out of what any reasonable person would have called disposable junk. And I suppose, given some thought, you might say the same of yourself.
With that in mind, let’s commit ourselves afresh to the fast He said he chose:
“ … to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free.” (Isaiah 58:6)
Because if that’s our Father’s business, which Jesus said He must be about (Luke 2:49), and if we who say we know Him should walk as He did (I John 2:6), then we, too, must be about a relentless pursuit of freedom from bondage, for ourselves and others.
That soul tied up somewhere in our vicinity is waiting for the Lord’s entry, seen by Him as worth pursuing, and entrusted to us as something precious to be seen, loved, and loosed.
Because the Lord hath need of him.