He set his face toward Jerusalem.

In Lent 24 by Bruce LogueLeave a Comment

“When the day drew near for him to be taken up, he set his fact to go to Jerusalem. And he sent messengers ahead of him.”

Luke 9:51

There are twenty-four chapters in Luke, but Luke announces the resolve of Jesus to go to Jerusalem in chapter nine. By so doing, Luke lets us see the focus Jesus has – one hundred ninety-three miles in service to the kingdom of God and its mission. Jesus, though dreading what would happen to him, was relentless and courageous the entire course.

Luke’s narrative follows the episode about Zacchaeus, a tax collector, with Jesus saying, “The Son of Man came to seek out and save the lost.” Next, Luke explains that because “they supposed that the kingdom of God was to appear immediately,” Jesus told them the parable of the talents.

The crucifixion, horrible though it was, set everything right. Through Jesus’ death it would become clear that Jesus had a redemptive mission to “seek and save the lost,” and that the kingdom was bigger than a political solution for the problem of Rome.

The mission of Jesus built to a crescendo of which the cross was only the beginning. Jesus entered the domain of death and walked out alive. Jesus defeated evil, established the unthreatened reign of God, and set up a beachhead on the shores of sin and death. Jesus foretold this when he sent word to John the Baptist that “the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are raised, the poor have good news brought to them.”

Luke recounts Jesus once being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom was coming, and Jesus said, “The kingdom of God is not coming with things that can be observed….For, in fact, the kingdom of God is among you.” Luke 17:20-21.

Jesus’ pace toward Jerusalem was not fazed by anything. Not by recalcitrant disciples, not by the attacks to discredit him, not by threats of death. Nothing. He knew he was going to his death, but he also knew for what he was doing this. The work of God to redeem humanity and Creation were in Jesus’ hands.

Let it be said as well, that Jesus’ death was not to assuage the anger of God. It was to make a direct attack on the powers of sin and death. Peter said that he went to preach to the spirits in prison, i.e., those who had died and never heard the gospel. 1 Peter 3:19.

Lent and Easter give us an opportunity to think about the scope of Jesus’ life and work. What a tragedy to think that he came to punch our ticket to heaven. It empties the grandeur of God’s last work to bring the Creation back in order and to redeem us from the power of sin and death. That is why Jesus went unrelentingly to Jerusalem.

Something to think about: How does thinking about the power and scope of Christ’s work affect or change the way you think about your own relationship to that work?

Something to pray about: O God, we give thanks for the divine secret which you gave to the first humans about what you would do to rescue Creation from their sin. We thank you for the coming of Jesus, the incarnation of your being, to finish the work you started. Please help us not to lose sight of that. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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