There are a couple of moments in the final days of Jesus life when we get a hint that the circle of his supporters in Jerusalem was wider than just the disciples who had followed him from Galilee. Residents of the city seem to have aligned themselves with him too.
The first occasion was on the first Palm Sunday. Jesus sent ahead of him two of his disciples, with an instruction. ‘Go into the village ahead of you, and as you enter it you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ just say this, ‘The Lord needs it’. It is just about possible, I suppose, that this was an act of supernatural intuition on the part of Jesus. But when he gives his followers a phrase to use if they are challenged, it sounds like a password. It seems more likely that an unknown supporter had agreed to put his colt at Jesus’ disposal.
The second occasion is similar. Later in that first ‘Holy Week’, Jesus again sent ahead of him two of his disciples (this time, named by Luke as Peter and John, saying, ‘Go and prepare the Passover meal for us that we may eat it’. When, perplexed, they ask him where they are to do this, he goes on, ‘Listen, when you have entered the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you; follow him into the house he enters and say to the owner of the house, ‘The teacher asks you, ‘Where is the guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’. He wil show you a large room upstairs, already furnished. Make preparations for us there’. Again, it is just about possible that Jesus was relying on some divine intuition. But it seems much more likely that he had made an arrangement before-hand and was giving, here, a pre-arranged signal to Peter and John.
The implication is, that Jesus had generous sympathisers of whom his core disciples were not necessarily aware. And that remains the case to this day. We are called to be generous — but we should not be surprised when those on the fringes of the church, or beyond, prove to be our generous supporters. Generosity lurks in unexpected places!