Christianity 201

April 15, 2022

Jesus Did Not Flinch from What Awaited Him in Jerusalem

As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem.
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~Luke 9:51

Luke points the “road to Jerusalem” early on, in chapter 9. He knew what awaited him there. Because we’ve placed this as a Good Friday reading, it’s easy to miss the first part of the verse, especially if we read quickly past the phrase, “received up” (as some translations have it). This passage is also anticipating the ascension (the event described in Mark 16:19). Luke previews the forthcoming part of the arc of Jesus’ life in this one verse. Up next: Jerusalem. Up later: ascension. Implied: death and resurrection.

Nine chapters later, Luke describes him telling them more clearly. Then Jesus took the Twelve aside and said to them, “Look, we are going up to Jerusalem, and everything the prophets have written about the Son of Man will be fulfilled. (18:31) It’s not specific to our ears, unless you read the next two verses, He will be delivered over to the Gentiles. They will mock him, insult him and spit on him; they will flog him and kill him. On the third day he will rise again.”

This is to path to which Jesus sets a direct course.

Matthew Henry writes:

1. There was a time fixed for the sufferings and death of our Lord Jesus, and he knew well enough when it was, and had a clear and certain foresight of it, and yet was so far from keeping out of the way that then he appeared most publicly of all, and was most busy, knowing that his time was short.

2. When he saw his death and sufferings approaching, he looked through them and beyond them, to the glory that should follow; he looked upon it as the time when he should be received up into glory (1 Tim. 3:16), received up into the highest heavens, to be enthroned there. Moses and Elias spoke of his death as his departure out of this world, which made it not formidable; but he went further, and looked upon it as his translation to a better world, which made it very desirable. All good Christians may frame to themselves the same notion of death, and may call it their being received up, to be with Christ where he is; and, when the time of their being received up is at hand, let them lift up their heads, knowing that their redemption draws nigh.

3. On this prospect of the joy set before him, he steadfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem the place where he was to suffer and die. He was fully determined to go, and would not be dissuaded; he went directly to Jerusalem, because there now his business lay, and he did not go about to other towns, or fetch a compass, which if he had done, as commonly he did, he might have avoided going through Samaria. He went cheerfully and courageously there, though he knew the things that should happen to him there. He did not fail nor was discouraged, but set his face as a flint, knowing that he should be not only justified, but glorified (Isa. 50:7), not only not run down, but received up. How should this shame us for, and shame us out of, our backwardness to do and suffer for Christ! We draw back, and turn our faces another way from his service who steadfastly set his face against all opposition, to go through with the work of our salvation.

This reminded me of another passage:

Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
~Hebrews 12:2

The website The Bible Says notes that this verse lands immediately after the “gallery of faith” in Hebrews 11. We have all of the examples from the pages of Bible history, however,

…the ultimate example is Jesus Christ, on whom we should fix our eyes on because He is both the author and perfecter of faith. He is the author because He fulfilled God’s promise to send a Messiah redeemer, beginning all the way back in Genesis 3:15. The foundation for the redemption of the world is through His ministry, His death and resurrection. He is also the perfecter (related to the word teleiosi, which means to complete, or finish, or fulfill something). Christ fulfilled the task that God called Him to, obeying to the point of death, enduring through many sufferings. As a result, He defeated death, and ascended to the throne. We are in a period awaiting His full coronation.

Again, Matthew Henry writes that it was the big picture ending (literally, the joy set before him) which carried Jesus forward in his mission:

What it was that supported the human soul of Christ under these unparalleled sufferings; and that was the joy that was set before him. He had something in view under all his sufferings, which was pleasant to him…

I’ve taken the rest of the quotation from Matthew Henry and reset it as bullet points.

  • he rejoiced to see that by his sufferings he should make satisfaction to the injured justice of God and
  • give security to his honor and government,
  • that he should make peace between God and man,
  • that he should seal the covenant of grace and be the Mediator of it,
  • that he should open a way of salvation to the chief of sinners,
  • and that he should effectually save all those whom the Father had given him, and himself be the first-born among many brethren. This was the joy that was set before him.

Practical application: While there are so many theological depths in this idea of Jesus setting his face toward Jerusalem which should not be minimized, I have often found on a very practical level that this concept — and that exact phrase — has provided great comfort when I must face an unpleasant situation.

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