A Determination to Reach His Destination.
Matthew 19:1; Luke 9:51; John 7:10
“As the time drew near for him to ascend to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem.” – Luke 9:51 NLT
These three simple verses paint a vivid picture that records an important turning point or transition in the life of Jesus. It is here that we see Jesus earthly ministry begin to come to a close as He begins to focus on the true nature of His coming. He had one final assignment to complete for His time on earth to be truly successful and for Him to completely and perfectly fulfill His role as Messiah. The miracles and wonders He performed were simply proofs of who He was. What was to come next would be the reason for which He had come. Luke tells us that Jesus “resolutely set out for Jerusalem” (Luke 9:51 NLT). Jesus knew what was waiting for Him in Jerusalem. He had already told the disciples what fate awaited Him there. He had begun “to tell his disciples plainly that it was necessary for him to go to Jerusalem, and that he would suffer many terrible things at the hands of the elders, the leading priests, and the teachers of religious law. He would be killed, but on the third day, he would be raised from the dead” (Matthew 16:21 NLT). Peter rebuked Him when he heard this news. He told Jesus, “This will never happen to you!” (Matthew 16:22 NLT). But Jesus knew better. Not only would it happen, it had to happen. It was essential that it happen and in just the way Jesus had described it. It was all part of God’s grand redemptive plan. And while Jesus knew exactly what was going to take place in the days ahead, He determined to set His sights and His attention on getting to Jerusalem. He would let nothing and no one stand in His way.
The Greek word Luke uses could be translated, “he set his face.” It is a Semitic idiom that speaks of a firm, unshakable resolve to do something. It is very similar to the thought found in the Old Testament book of Isaiah, where the prophet records the words of the Messiah, hundreds of years before Jesus arrived on the scene. This prophetic passage envisions the future Messiah, the Lord’s Servant, and it is a vivid picture of Jesus. In it, the Messiah is recorded as saying, “The Sovereign LORD has spoken to me, and I have listened. I have not rebelled or turned away. I offered my back to those who beat me and my cheeks to those who pulled out my beard. I did not hide my face from mockery and spittly. Because the Sovereign LORD helps me, I will not be disgraced. There, I have set my face like a stone, determined to do his will. And I know that I will not be put to shame” (Isaiah 50:5-7 NLT). Written hundreds of years before the birth of Jesus, this passage provides a remarkably accurate glimpse into the final days of Jesus’ life on earth. And it tells us that the future Messiah would be determined to do the will of God, refusing to be distracted or deterred from His God-ordained responsibility.
I can’t help but read these words and think about how often I refuse to do those things that I find distasteful or not enjoyable. Even when I know the task at hand is important or even essential, if it is not something I particularly want to do, I will find every excuse in the world NOT to do it. But here was Jesus, facing the most repulsive tasks any man could ever face, and He was determined to do it and do it well. He knew that He was going to be beaten, mocked, spit on, whipped, slapped, ridiculed, betrayed, deserted, and ultimately nailed to a cross where He would be left to die in horrific agony. And yet, He “set His face” to go to Jerusalem. For Jesus, it was all about doing the will of His Father who had sent Him. It was about obedience and faithfulness. It was about the trust He had in His Father because He knew His Father was trustworthy and faithful. “Because the Sovereign LORD helps me, I will not be disgraced” (Isaiah 50:7 NLT). Isaiah also records these words from the future Messiah and they are a wonderful encouragement to us when we face difficulties or times when the task at hand seems to much for us to handle. “Who among you fears the LORD and obeys his servant? If you are walking in darkness, without a ray of light, trust in the LORD and rely on your God” (Isaiah 50:10 NLT). Jesus was headed toward Jerusalem. The days ahead would be filled with a gathering gloom as the religious leaders increased their attacks on Him. Satan Himself would be seeking ways to destroy Him. One of Jesus’ own disciples would betray Him. All the rest would end up deserting Him. But He knew He could trust in the LORD and rely on His God. So He set His face like a stone and headed to Jerusalem, determined to finish what He had begun.
Lord Jesus, I have no earthly idea what You were feeling as You made your way to Jerusalem in those days. I don’t know what was going through Your heart and mind. I only know how I would have felt if I had been in Your place. Everything in me would have been scheming and rationalizing ways in which to put off what lay ahead. I would have wanted to avoid the future at all costs. I would have begged my heavenly Father to come up with another plan, another way. I would have had a pity party and become sullen and angry. But yet, You continued to minister, teach, heal, encourage, disciple and love those very same people who would end up rejecting You in the end. You faced Your future with determination and placed Your life in the trustworthy hands of Your Father. Oh, that I might learn to do the same. Amen.
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men