As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, "'Why are you untying that colt?' They replied, 'The Lord needs it.'" (Luke 19:33,34).
Jesus had sent two disciples into Bethany to get the colt for what we call today the triumphal entry. He told them where to find it and what to say to the owners: "The Lord needs it."
In one sense, the Lord needs nothing of ours nor of us. To an Israel addicted to formal religion he declared: "I do not need to take a bull from your household or goats from your sheepfolds. For every wild animal in the forest belongs to me, as well as the cattle that graze on a thousand hills. I keep track of every bird in the hills, and the insects of the field are mine. Even if I were hungry, I would not tell you, for the world and all it contains belong to me." (Psalm 50:9-12)
He wanted sincere worship from Israel, not because he needed it, but as adoration of the heart on the worshipers' part. There is nothing I can do for God. He has no personal need that I can fulfill. As God he is self-sufficient and complete.
In another sense, however, the Lord has seen fit to use our lives and acts for His kingdom. Jesus told the Twelve: "You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that remains, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he will give you." (John 15:16). What Jesus says to the Twelve here is also true of every Christian. By His graciousness, He has made man a part of His work to save others.
In this sense, then, it is appropriate to say, as Jesus did of the colt, that he needs us. So when a mother is discouraged about her children, the Lord needs you to cheer her. When a child is frustrated or sad or hungry in this world, the Lord needs you to care for him. When you meet someone who has yet to obey the divine commandment, the Lord needs you to teach that person. When false teachings creep into the church, the Lord needs you to stand up and speak the truth clearly and lovingly. When funds are in short supply to do the work, the Lord needs you to be generous. When tempers flare and harsh words begin to fly, the Lord needs you to act as a peacemaker.
In the family, the Lord needs you to fulfill your role. In society, He needs you to be salt and light. In the church, He needs you to be a pillar for truth and platform for peace. To be coworkers with God, as Paul said in 2 Corinthians 6:1, is a humbling and glorious thought.
To have been chosen by Him to go and bear fruit in this world as a part of his great mission leaves our heart in great awe, gives speed to our feet, and strength to our hands when we hear Him say, "The Lord needs you."