Broken and Unbroken
As I preached the sermon today about Jesus’s “triumphal entry” into Jerusalem and his decision to come in on a broken colt created questions that I thought could be answered in a blog post that would come out following the sermon.
In Mark 11:1-11, we hear Jesus telling his disciples to bring him a specific colt. Matthew and Luke are clear that it is a donkey … the beast of burden. Left to Mark’s telling, it could have been a small horse. And according to Mark, THE ANIMAL WAS UNBROKEN. Are you thinking what I’m thinking?
Again, it might be possible that the Son of God who could tame the waves could just as easily sit on a broken animal and bring it completely under control. For this story, however, let’s say that didn’t happen.
And as we get to the difference between horses and donkeys, the big difference I discovered is that when you are trying to saddle or even ride bareback on a donkey, not only will it kick. It bites. (True story for another day). The horse, while capable of biting, is much more likely to kick wildly even before the rider has mounted.
So we have this image of the unbroken animal … and atop that unbroken animal is the broken messiah. While the scene may have been unusual to watch, it highlights something that I think is important.
In today’s reading of scripture, we also read Paul’s letter to the Philippians as he talks about this one who comes, not as a king, but as a servant. Jesus was not someone who regarded “equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death — even death on a cross.”
Jesus “became obedient” … in comparison to the animal he was on, he was the one who was broken … the animal was not. How then is Jesus obedient in this sense?
Jesus has poured himself out. He has poured out his teachings. He has poured out his healing. He has poured himself out to the people. He has poured himself out to God.
He chose to submit himself to the will of God, even if it meant he would be excluded, derided, tortured, and executed.
It was that obedience … that capacity to be broken … that then leads Paul to exclaim:
“Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord!”
Here’s a secret to how I am talking about brokenness in this season. While we talk about the many ways we are broken, let’s talk about how the word broken now ties to obedience. How is that we choose to give ourselves wholly to those who are the broken in the world? How is that we choose to stand in solidarity against systems of injustice and harm?
Not beat into brokenness, but now choosing to embrace it!
How is it that we can open ourselves up to the greater mystery of God and be fluid in how we think and be curious in our ever unfolding discovery of this Holy Mystery?
The obedience of this week is to give up our fear … our need to blame … our suspicions of the “other” … and pour ourselves out in love toward this Christ who is moving from here toward the cross. It is to let go of our preconceived notions and open our minds and hearts to watch the messiah take up the cross.
As we walks, he looks at us, and asks us to be broken … obedient … which means that we are challenged to take up the cross that belongs to us and follow our Christ.
Be broken, my friends, and you will discover that God will exalt you and raise you Christ to the place of wholeness and life.
God, teach us of obedience and how we might be broken and conformed to your will. Amen.