Gosh, sheriff, I wouldn’t lie to you. He gave us specific directions to locate a parked car that had zero miles on the odometer. Told us the car was for the big parade coming into town.
The keys were just hanging there and all. So we got in and drove it over. You’re the first person who’s asked any questions. He said to tell you he needed the car and plans to return it very soon. We were gonna bring it back! I promise. We aren’t stealing this sweet ride. Gosh, is that what you’re thinking?
“Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5). A warning: If you strive to be of “the same mind” with Christ, consistently on the same page with the man, you’re going to be an out-of-step weirdo. Following Jesus will make you relatively strange over time. A lot of conflict in church life finds its source in the 12 words of this one verse.
“Surely, there will be plenty of time to get to know Jesus in heaven.” Jarringly, he instead wants daily access to our minds and hearts right here, right now.
Tinker around a bit with what was on Jesus’ mind on Palm Sunday so long ago. Was I getting that hypothetical encounter with the sheriff even close?
“Go into the village ahead of you. There’s a colt there that’s never been ridden. Steal the colt (I mean borrow it),” Jesus said. “If anybody wonders what you’re doing, just tell them I need the animal and will bring it back real soon” (based on Mark 11:2-3).
This explanation would never fly with most people. “Let the same mind be in you” in this regard. And then let me come visit you (and your mind) in jail.
It’s not a stretch to say that Jesus borrowed a lot of stuff as he moved lightly through this life. He borrowed a barn for his birth, countless meals to fuel his ministry movement, lodging because he had “nowhere to lay his head,” even his place of burial. His entire life was on loan from God, who would powerfully give it back to him after sacrificial use. We call this Easter.
Jesus was right when he said he “needed” a certain ride for the parade because he sure didn’t own any livestock. The man was arguably a walking recession.
He held on to things loosely. He shared. He borrowed things he needed. Ownership was assigned ultimately to God, the divine giver of all that I mistakenly call “mine”—my house, my retirement portfolio, my stuff, my money. I use the word “my” so regularly that I forget it’s a pretty rare word in the New Testament.
Four little words in this old Palm Sunday story jump out: “The Lord needs it” (Mark 11:3). I’m struck by the notion that Jesus needed anything at all. The one who healed, walked on water, raised children from the dead, and multiplied loaves and fish—he apparently needed things. “Go borrow it,” he said. “We’ll return it shortly.”
There is no better time than Holy Week and Easter to think hard about these words: The Lord needs you. Your peculiar gifts and talents. Your offerings of money and treasure. Your very mind molded and formed in the strange yet life-giving likeness of Jesus, blended with other voices in the church who shout expectantly, “Blessed is the coming kingdom!” (Mark 11:10).
“Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus.”
Let me quickly say that I often fail miserably at this. Thank God for communion, a supper for
the forgiveness of sins and my glaring shortcomings.
But also, a meal revealing the heart and mind of Christ. It’s the sacrificial life—borrowed, freely offered to others, sheer gift and never ours to hoard—that’s the life Christ laid down in confidence that God would give it back.
Such a life is on loan for creative use. God will return it shortly.
We call this Easter.