The Lord Has Need of It EGP Blog post from October 13, 2013

In order to fulfill Scripture, Jesus was to enter Jerusalem on a colt (). When it was time for this “Triumphal Entry”, Jesus told His disciples to go get one.

Mark 11:2–6 ()

[2] and said* to them, “Go into the village opposite you, and immediately as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, on which no one yet has ever sat; untie it and bring it here. [3] “If anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ you say, ‘The Lord has need of it’; and immediately he will send it back here.” [4] They went away and found a colt tied at the door, outside in the street; and they untied* it. [5] Some of the bystanders were saying to them, “What are you doing, untying the colt?” [6] They spoke to them just as Jesus had told them, and they gave them permission.

Mark 11:3 Lit sends

I always thought this passage was strange, because the disciples’ only defense for essentially stealing this donkey was, “the Lord needs it and we’ll bring it back.” I chalked it up to being “one of those God things” where He orchestrates things for a particular circumstance that wouldn’t otherwise work It very well could be, however, I think there may be more going on here.

As many know, “You shall not take the Name of the Lord your God in vain” is one of the Ten Commandments (). But because of the second half of that statement, “for the Lord will not leave him unpunished who takes His Name in vain”, the Jews became HIGHLY paranoid of using His Name at all. In the Hebrew scriptures, God’s Name was written out as four Hebrew letters, “יהוה” (usually transliterated, “Yahweh” or “Jehovah” []), often called the Tetragrammaton (Greek for “four letters”), but when reading it aloud, they would say “Adonay” [] instead, which is a variation of the Hebrew word for “lord” [].

They did this with writings about Scripture also, considering any document with the Tetragrammaton written on it to be holy and therefore treated as such (even today, Jews will write “G-d” because of this commandment). When the Scriptures were translated into Greek, called the Septuagint, the translators translated it “κυριοσ” (“kurios” []), the Greek word for “lord”.

Jesus had been referred to as “Lord” several times before this point, by Himself and others (, ) and the people who owned the colt the disciples were borrowing might have known Him by that title. However, I’m inclined to believe that in this particular instance, Jesus may have instructed the disciples to use God’s proper name when taking the colt. Its owners, knowing the severity of punishment for those misusing God’s Name, wouldn’t have taken their usage of it lightly and probably feared the repercussions of not letting them use the colt.