12 March 2008

Bible portraits: Palm Sunday (Part 3)

All of the day’s events were racing through our minds as we pushed on towards Bethany. There we stayed with Lazarus and his two sisters, Mary and Martha. Lazarus is a whole other story, and I don’t have time even to begin to get into that now. Martha could not be outdone as a cook and after the long walk from Jericho we were ready for a hearty meal.

As we sat down for supper, though, a strange series of events began to unfold. Mary brought out an enormous jar of expensive perfume and poured it out on the Lord’s feet till it dripped onto the floor. Then she began to wipe it with her hair.

We all thought this more than a little odd. But it was Judas who objected most strenuously. The fragrance had filled the room when he stood up in angry criticism. “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.”

“Leave her alone,” came the reply. Then the Lord said something very peculiar that sent shivers down our spines—something about the perfume being for his burial. Over the past few weeks we had heard him express these morbid thoughts about suffering and death. We always tried to put them out of our minds but I’ll tell you, it made us worry, and it was a long time before any of us got to sleep that night thinking about it.

The next morning the sun streamed into our room bright and clear. We were ready for a good breakfast, but the Lord had an errand for a couple of us to do. “I’d like you to go over to Bethphage,” he told us. “Just as you enter, you will find a colt which had never been ridden. Untie it and bring it to me. And by the way,” he added, “if anyone asks you why you are untying it, tell him, ‘The Lord needs it.’”

By now we were accustomed to the Lord asking us to do unconventional things, so we didn’t ask any questions. Bethphage was only a few minutes’ walk away and sure enough, there we found the young donkey, just as he had said, right next to its mother.

As we were untying it, someone came out and asked us what we were doing. “Uh, the Lord needs it,” we replied hesitantly and no more questions were asked.

Moments later we were back in Bethany where we found the rest of them waiting for us. They were ready to leave. There was no time for us to have our breakfast. We quickly threw some of our cloaks over the donkey’s back, helped Jesus on top and began the last leg of our journey, the two or three miles to Jerusalem.

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