The Lord’s Unbridled Passion

“Listen carefully. This is a mule’s bit and bridle…but this one is very special.  Thousands of years ago, when our people were finally set free from slavery, as they were leaving, one of our ancestors from the great tribe of Judah used this very bit and bridle to lead his mule, laden with supplies, out of Egypt.  The men in our family have handed this down for 40 generations as a remembrance of our bondage; more importantly, Jesus, in remembrance of being led to freedom into the Promised Land.  It’s old, and it is not beautiful but my father handed it to me to own as I am handing it to you.”

If you’re a fan of The Chosen, these words may sound familiar.  They come from a scene in Season 3 where Joseph passes on a bridle to a young Jesus, explaining the significance of it. While staying very true Biblically to the key events of Jesus’ life, the creators of The Chosen  do, here and there, add some “backstories,” building in details that never detract from the truths being conveyed yet clearly are not from Scripture.  

At the end of Season 4 (small spoiler alert), Jesus uses this very bridle on the donkey he rides as he enters Jerusalem and is greeted by the waving palms of a crowd stirred to awe and excitement by all they have seen him do and heard him say.

The “bridle backstory,” while not true, does have a touching impact, connecting Jesus with his earthly father and his ancestors.  On a deeper level, this backstory is used to make a connection between Old Testament and New, between slavery and freedom. Just as the bridle was used by a slave of Egypt to ride to freedom in the Promised Land, so it is, in essence, now being used to lead us out of the bondage of sin as Jesus approaches his Passion and offers salvation to the world.  It is definitely a creative touch on the part of the writers, one that helps build the theme of slavery/sin and freedom/redemption.

But the bridle also reminded me of the Lenten journey that we are still on!  Having grown up around horses, I remember that there were many pieces of equipment that could be attached to a bridle, depending on the temperament of the horse. Was a horse prone to run, taking off without prompting, running full out and tiring quickly, given to a mind of its own? There was a particular bit to help curb that behavior.  Did he pull to one side, trying to look around, getting side-tracked or off-pace? There was a “head pole” to help keep his head straight and the horse moving forward efficiently.  If a horse was prone to “spook” easily at shadows or movements, there were blinders to help block peripheral vision so that his focus was on being led or driven.  

And isn’t this what Lent is all about: curbing undesirable behaviors, keeping our heads straight (focused on the Lord through prayer), and being led by our Master?  It’s not easy to say, “Lead me, Lord. Slow me down, keep my eyes on you, remove all distractions. Teach me discipline.”  Yet this is what Lent calls us to each year.  And it’s not too late, even as we enter Holy Week, for us to say it again or to say it for the first time.  

In fact, now is the perfect week to really lean into surrender!  The Lord himself shows us how as he enters into Jerusalem with “unbridled passion” (no pun intended).  The term “unbridled passion” can have a negative connotation today, but the Lord’s abundant passion as he faced his Passion (suffering), tells us all we need to know of his deep, deep unfailing and perfect love for us:  his face set like flint (prophesied in Isaiah: “Therefore I have set my face like flint, knowing that I shall not be put to shame.” 50:7), moving intentionally, resolutely toward his goal, doing his Father’s will. 

All for you! All for me!

He does nothing less than what he asks us to do. Today, Jesus enters Jerusalem to bring us freedom…are you ready to surrender to that freedom?  Are you ready to be led?