We have lived in Atlantic Highlands from May 1981 until now. About four years after we moved into the parsonage, one of our neighbors came to borrow some sugar. My wife could not understand why I was so happy! I was reliving my childhood. One of the things that happened in our village culture was constant borrowing, especially around dinner time. People come to borrow sugar, oil, an onion, potatoes, and flour. In the pinch of the moment when the shops are a couple of miles away, your neighbors are the best supplies. Now I have to also emphasize that the measured, borrowed items were returned very quickly, often with surplus.
In the 18 years that we have lived in the parsonage, I think that I have witnessed about four occasions when our neighbors came to borrow something from us. These four times would have happened in a single month in the place where I grew up.
In this season of Lent, I was thinking of Jesus and how he viewed possessions and borrowing. When people wanted to become his followers, he told them that the birds of the sky have nests and foxes have holes, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head. In fact, he went even further by saying that when we have our banquets to invite those people who cannot invite us back and to lend to those people who cannot repay it back to us.
Itinerant preachers were at the mercy of the people. If the people of towns would receive Jesus, than he had a meal and a place to stay. If they did not receive him, he had to continue the journey. I do not know how often in his three year ministry Jesus had a place to lay his head and how many times he and his followers slept in the fields.
What surprises me is that the One who is the creator of all things and therefore the owner of all things, came in this world as one who had to borrow so many things.
1. He had to borrow someone’s stall to be born. The place belonged to the cows and the sheep and other animals that live there for their night protection and warmth.
When he came into this world, he had to borrow a place from some animals, because there was no place in the inn!
2. During his ministry, Jesus often has to borrow someone’s boat and use it as a preaching platform so that people would not crush him. He had to depend on other people to move from place to place.
3. When He wants to make his triumphal entry in Jerusalem, he needs to borrow someone’s donkey. The kings, the nobles, and rulers had horses to show that they were mighty. Jesus chooses to ride on a foal of a donkey that his disciples borrowed.
4. For his farewell meal, he had to borrow someone else’s upper room who not only had the upper room, but also has prepared it for the occasion.
5. Lastly, he had to borrow someone’s tomb. It is ironic that great people always prepared for their death, but Jesus knew that he would only need a tomb for a couple of days, and might as well borrow it from someone else.
One of the major compliments given at the foot of the cross is given to the women. Here is Jesus crucified with absolutely nothing and the author inserts these words: Many women were there watching form the distance. They had followed Jesus to care for his needs (Matthew 27:55).
And today, as he reaches to touch others He has to borrow you and to borrow me so that through us He will bless the whole world. He wants to borrow you to proclaim that He has risen from the dead and death no longer has power over Him or any of his followers.