Mark 11:3

And, if anyone says to you ‘Why are you doing that?’, say ‘The Master wants it, and will be sure to send it back here at once.’”

what does it mean
I don’t think it means
what you think it means

right now if is not if
it is quite simply when
harms way is still harms way

a set-up is not an if
see you already have
a compromised scenario

I’ve seen you wiggle
out of problematic situations
but this doesn’t feel right

so I’m storing this if
in my hope bucket
for later review

One way of separating Jesus’ claim upon the colt from that of a Roman soldier is in the promise that the colt will be led back, none the worse for wear, when the need for it in a political theatre is completed.

Even before this promise there is a recognition that an act of untying can be favorably interpreted on its own. In a land of scarce resources during a time of occupation, even a communally-based village could easily be expected to have a privatistic concern about possessions.

It may not be the owner of the colt who notices it being untied. Wherever a challenge of the two disciples arises, they are given an encrypted password to use. This presumes an underground or resistance of some sort. Whether that is of a violent Zealot nature or the non-violent suffering of the Jesus movement can’t be told at this remove. With the same basic goal, though with different understandings and methodologies, there could be enough commonalities among those desiring to be released to have this phrase work.

It can fruitfully be asked if there are any common phrases among intersections of church and world, today, to hold them together.

There is a concern about the phrase ό κύριος (ho kurios, the Lord/master). As the only instance of this in Mark, there is a question about how to understand it. High and low Christology has some effect here on whether this is directly tied to G*D or if it is part of the Movement.

For those who have tried to be sensitive to the palin references when I have not specifically noted them, the word “back” is palin. This is also a way to think about the healing stories told in the first part of Mark— people are returned back to themselves.

Mark 11:2

“Go to the village facing you,” he said; “and, as soon as you get there, you will find a foal tethered, which no one has ever ridden; untie it, and bring it.

tasks come in many sizes
in some we can please
our selves and others
in some we can please
others but not our self
in others’ the only pleasure
is in the doing of the doing

what is yet unknown
of pleasure’s direction
is a task on the edge
of propriety
confiscating property
is problematic
in its indeterminacy

information is being gathered
who knows the area
has contacts in place
plans are being laid
regarding surveillance
timing approach
and get away

Matthew’s account of Jesus says he came on a donkey. This has colored other recountings as Mark and Luke can be read as either donkey or horse. There is still the Humane Society question of whether riding a young animal is doing harm or not, though the metaphoric weight of Jesus doing a symbolic ride may well be acceptable.

Mark’s emphasis is not upon the species of the animal but past allusions from scripture and Malina248 saying Mark’s

emphasis is on the fact that no human being has as yet sat upon and ridden the animal. Jesus, then, is seated on and rides a “sacred animal”, untamed and alien to the world of human use, consecrated to the special, extraordinary task of bearing “he who comes in the name of the Lord” to the very central place consecrated to that Lord.

Duling312 traces another meaning for this colt:

The Babylonian Talmud preserves a traditional exegesis that claims that if Israel is worthy the Messiah will come in might “upon the clouds of heaven” (that is, in fulfillment of the coming of the Son of Man in Dan 7:13; if it is not worthy he will come “lowly, and riding on a donkey” (that is, in fulfillment of Zech 9:9). Mark implies that Israel was unworthy, and so the Messiah entered Jerusalem in this way.

Whichever imagery is helpful to you, there is still the question of appropriating the animal, untying it. This sounds very much like the requisitioning a Roman soldier would do—a demand not a request.

Mark 11:1

When they had almost reached Jerusalem, as far as Bethphage and Bethany, near the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent on two of his disciples.

out of many
two are chosen
for a task

for now rejoice
we’ve been noticed
we’re ready
let’s give it our all

should one of the twelve
falter along the way
we’ll be on the short list
for associate partner

no matter how large
a task it is
we’ll see it through
and get our names in the book

This relatively small band of people (a crowd?) have just come from Jericho, just this side of the Jordan River where Baptizer John called and “all the people” of Jerusalem came to remember a past transition from slavery to release and prepare for a next transition. The people of Israel were no longer enslaved in a foreign land, Egypt, but in their promised land, Israel.

It has been a long journey but the work of John is about to be tested regarding its efficacy. Are the bands of resistance, trained in the wilderness and marked by baptism, going to be efficient and effective when called to act by one particularly affected by their experience at the evocative location of the Jordan?

Arriving in the environs of Jerusalem, close enough to be suburbs but not so close they lose their identity, a specific task is given to two disciples. Wouldn’t it be fitting if these two were James and John who had asked for special positions, were the butt of a teaching, and now have to live out what being a servant or slave means? Of course they could be a random choice of any two of the crowd of disciples, leaving the Twelve to maintain their privileged position. Whichever way it was, fishing for people and relying on the welcome of others are still bound to every specific task.

Remembering that Mark is writing after the destruction of Jerusalem, there is all the regret and expectation of Jerusalem to have been more than a historic marker of desired internal authority, the center of holiness and purity descended from Abraham and Jacob, Moses and Aaron, and resistant to the external power of the latest invader signifying how far their lived partnership with G*D and Neighb*r had been compromised.