As mentioned last week, for the Sundays of Lent, we will be looking at teachings of Jesus that took place in what biblical commentators call ‘Luke’s Travel Narrative’. It is a large chunk of Scripture which includes much material that is only referred to buy Dr. Luke in his gospel writings.
Today we are going to look at the official start of Jesus’ final journey to Jerusalem, as recorded by Luke. And from the trip’s very beginnings, Luke shares an account that is unique to his Gospel. Read Luke 9:51-55.
V.51 – There is a sermon in this one verse alone. Last week, when we talked about Jesus’ exodus from this world, we noted that we are to follow Him as the ‘Way out’ (…the literal meaning of the Grk word exodos). In this verse, we see two key disciplines that Jesus employs that followers of Jesus must adopt as we follow Jesus home.
#1) “… taken up into heaven …” – Luke records that Jesus was looking past all of the humiliation that He was to endure … and rather anticipating the ultimate goal; … a face-to-face reunion with His Father, … and all the glory that goes with it. The writer of Hebrews (Heb.12:1-3) shares Jesus’ mindset so clearly: … unspeakable Joy awaited our Master in the Father’s presence. That same joy-filled fellowship that Jesus is now sharing with the Father is the same joy that we look forward to. But as we traverse through this worldly wilderness, the second discipline comes into play…
#2) “… resolutely set out for …” = “… He steadfastly and determinedly set His face to go …” (AMP) – What precedes our escorted journey with Jesus to Paradise is our journey with Him to the cross. The verses in Hebrews that we just read exhort us to “… fix our eyes on Jesus …” as well as to “… consider him who endured such opposition …” Why? So that when (not if, … but when) persecutions and trials come, we are determined to persevere until we reach ‘home‘. Jesus ‘set His face’ to resolutely go to where He would suffer and die, … knowing that what awaited Him afterward was ‘joy unspeakable and full of glory’. Our mindset should be the same. Our focus needs to be on what pleases the Father (…which is, as we saw in Leviticus, unhindered fellowship with His ‘image-bearers’ (us)), while being aware that we are surrounded by a world system that hates Light and those who follow that Light.
V.52 – The shortest and quickest way to Jerusalem from Galilee was through Samaria. Jesus sent a few folk ahead to make preparations for a short layover in a Samaritan village.
V.53 – It’s interesting that the Jewish entourage of Jesus was surprised at their reception. After all, Jews hated Samaritans, and vice versa. I believe the reason that the followers of Jesus had little angst about going into Samaria was because a sizable portion of the Samaritans thought Jesus to be the Messiah (John 4:39-42). When Jesus started heading toward Samaria, the locals may have thought that He was coming to set up His reign on their Mount Gerizim, where they believed the Messiah would rule from (John 4:19-24). They no doubt became offended that Jesus was ‘fixed’ on going on to Jerusalem to rule, … or so they thought. (A side thought for us disciples: the world will always offer us easier and less hazardous ways to make us think we’ve done God’s will. Setting up shop in Samaria may not have been as hazardous to Jesus as going to Jerusalem, … but it was not God’s will. At times, God’s perfect will for us is determined by how much we really don’t want to do it. If it’s the hardest route, it’s usually the correct one…)
V.54 – “… the disciples … saw this …” – In this section of Luke, we are going to find that the vast majority of the stories are designed to give instructions on the nature and obligations of being a disciple of Jesus. This story asks the question; … What does a follower of Jesus do when the world won’t receive them or their teacher? James and John, the ‘sons of thunder’ (Matt.3:17), thought the answer to be “… to call fire down from heaven and destroy them …”. First, you may be wondering where they would get such a radical idea … (2 Kings 1:6-15). James and John obviously thought they, being men of God’s Son, could and should do the same (James 5:17,18). However, the Teacher would inform them that they failed this test …
Vs.55,56 – Though many translations have many extra words assigned to these two verses, the earliest Greek manuscripts say simply, “… But Jesus turned and rebuked them and they went to another village.” We are reminded of Jesus’ Words in John 3:17: “God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” Jesus was going to Jerusalem to provide a ransom for those Samaritans that were offended by Him. He was seeking and saving the lost! Jesus will come again to Judge all flesh, … but back then He was going to save them by dying for them.
We conclude with Jesus responding to those who have ‘conditions’ regarding following the Master.
Vs.57,58 – I find this one interesting. It seems this potential student is all on board with the sacrifices required to do the things required of a disciple. Jesus does not address the man’s work ethic, … He seems to be asking, ‘… will you rest when and where I rest?’ Not only can the Life of a disciple be difficult in this world, … but it would seem even rest could be a trial. Jesus found time to sleep during a raging storm, …… not me ….
Vs.59,60 – There are many interpretations of what this man’s request really meant. Commentators are all over the place with this one. One thing is for sure; this man wanted to honor his father with a proper burial. This is following Commandment #5. Jesus is stating that His commands to follow and obey Him supersede the Law, … while not contradicting it (Luke 12:49-53).
Vs.61,62 – Remember that Jesus’ face was fixated on going to the cross? There is no One more important to seek out than Jesus! In order to be a disciple of Jesus, all other ‘loves’ must decrease … as our love for Christ must increase and be premier (Luke 18:28-30).
We concluded our worship with the words from an old hymn that fits what Jesus was saying to those who would follow Him:
Is your all on the altar of sacrifice laid?
Your heart, does the Spirit control?
You can only be blest and have peace and sweet rest,
As you yield Him your body and soul.
Stay close to Him, dearest saints!