JESUS RESOLUTELY SET
OUT FOR JERUSALEM Pastor Linton Smith
When I was much
younger I helped my father on the farm and that sometimes meant
ploughing the paddocks. I would drive the tractor round and
round the paddock.. trying to keep the right hand side of the
plough just overlapping the previous ploughed soil. I quickly
learned that if I looked behind.. to keep my eye on the plough..
I would soon be off course. If my mind wandered.. the result was
The only way to
proceed was to look ahead.. and keep the tractor wheels the
right distance from the ploughed soil.. to concentrate.. and to
keep on concentrating.. whatever I did I could not hurry up the
work.. just had to keep on keeping on.. round after round.
It is like that with the Christian life.
Once we get started.. it is a matter of looking ahead.. and
keeping on.. keeping on.. a matter of being resolute.
In Luke 9:51-62 we see Jesus resolutely setting out for
Jerusalem. Around Him we see
people who are very different. Jesus stands out.
He stands out in contrast to..
PEOPLE IN THE GRIP OF A GRUDGE
Luke writes.. Luke 9:51-53..
As the time
approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely
set out for Jerusalem. And he sent messengers on ahead, who went
into a Samaritan village to get things ready for him; but the
people there did not welcome him, because he was heading for
Jesus set out for Jerusalem.
He knew where He was headed.. and what awaited Him there.. there
He would be taken up to heaven.. He would be crucified..
buried.. rise again.. and ascend to heaven.
Instead of going around Samaria..
He decided to go through Samaria.. and sent messengers on ahead
to arrange hospitality. But the Samaritans discovered He was
going to Jerusalem.. and refused to welcome Him. Had He been
planning to stay there and worship at their place of worship
they would have welcomed Him.. but He was going to Jerusalem..
and that aroused their deep resentment. They were in the grip of
a centuries old grudge.. and refused Him hospitality.
How Jesus stands out from them!
Was he caught up in the feud? No. On another occasion He went
through Samaria.. came to Sychar.. sat by the well.. and shocked
a Samaritan woman..
John writes.. John 4:7-9..
a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will
you give me a drink?” (His disciples had gone into
the town to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are
a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a
drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)
What a challenge He is to us to rise above our grudges, to
behave like Him.
He stands out in contrast to..
TWO MEN BENT ON RETALIATION
James and John were not impressed with the Samaritans..
the disciples James and John saw this, they asked, “Lord, do you
want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them?” But
Jesus turned and rebuked them, and they went to another village.
These two disciples
had absolute confidence in the power of Jesus. If He chose to..
He could authorize them to call down fire from heaven. And that
is what they wanted to do. They were bent on retaliation. But
Jesus rebuked them.. and they went on to another village.
Jesus was not one
to retaliate.. take revenge.
suffered on the cross
He hung there an innocent person.. in great pain.. and people
were hurling insults at Him. How did He respond? He prayed for
them.. again and again.. Father, forgive them.. Father
later Peter looked back to that time.. and wrote..
1 Peter 2:23..
When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate;
when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted
himself to him who judges justly.
What a challenge Jesus is to us to resist the urge to hit back..
to behave like Him.
He stands out in contrast to..
A GLIB VOLUNTEER
they were walking along the road, a man said to him, “I will
follow you wherever you go.” Jesus replied, “Foxes have holes
and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place
to lay his head.”
This man had false
expectations.. and possibly wrong motives.
He thought of Jesus as the
Messiah.. King.. ruling a free Israelite kingdom.. and was keen
to follow Him.. and share in His kingdom with all its power and
riches. Jesus set him right. Foxes have holes and birds of
the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his
head. Many were poor in those days but very few were
homeless. Jesus was homeless.. depended on the hospitality of
others.. This man had completely the wrong idea of Jesus and
what it meant to be the Son of Man.
Not long before this
Jesus had told His disciples
He would be rejected.. suffer.. be killed.. and rise again.
Later He would say..
The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and
to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Kenneth E. Bailey says, “Jesus is
the Son of man, but his ministry is a suffering rather than a
triumphant fulfilment of that title.. this volunteer mirrors
those in every age who glibly offer to follow Jesus with no
serious reflection on the price or the implications of following
a suffering, rejected master” [Through Peasant Eyes p25].
How Jesus stands out!
There is nothing glib about Him. He resolutely sets out for
Jerusalem.. fully knowing what lies ahead.
What a challenge He is to us to follow Him regardless of the
He stands out in contrast to..
AN UNWILLING RECRUIT
to another man, “Follow me.” But the man replied, “Lord, first
let me go and bury my father.” Jesus said to him, “Let the dead
bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of
quite reasonable.. and Jesus’ response unreasonable. Not so..
not in that culture.
Kenneth E. Bailey says that he has
heard this language used again and again among Middle Easterners
discussing emigration. A person in his 30s is talking about his
plans to emigrate.. and at some point in the conversation
someone will say, “Are you not going to bury your father
first?” [Through Peasant Eyes p26]
In that culture
it was expected by the community.. that a son stay at home..
care for his parents.. until they are laid to rest
respectfully.. then he could go away.
This recruit was saying..
I will not come at this time. I must do what my community
expects of me. Was he thinking.. When I am free of those
requirements.. then I will come? Perhaps.. but by the way Jesus
responds to him.. it seems he was thinking.. if I can get out of
it now.. I will never need to follow Him. Deep down he just
wasn’t willing to follow Jesus. Why? Because of peer pressure.
He is like the person who says, Yes, I would like to come. Let
me talk to my wife about it.. and later says, Sorry, my wife had
made other plans!
Jesus will have none of this.
You do not belong back there. You have been hanging around Me
and My followers.. you have got a taste of real life.. kingdom
life.. let those who don’t know about this life.. care for your
parents. Be willing! Come right now and proclaim the kingdom of
The night before He suffered Jesus set the example..
The world must learn that I love the Father and that I do
exactly what my Father has commanded me. Come now; let us leave.
What a challenge
Jesus is to us - to be willing!
He stands out in
A RELUCTANT VOLUNTEER
said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say
good-by to my family.” Jesus replied, “No one who puts his hand
to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of
Again the request
sounds reasonable.. and Jesus’
response a little harsh.. But again it is a matter of the
culture and customs..
Kenneth E. Bailey
points out that the Greek word translated ‘good-bye’ is found 5
times in the New Testament. In all four other places it is
translated, ‘take leave of’ and should be translated that
way here. He explains..
“In Middle Eastern culture.. the person who is leaving
must request permission to leave from those who are staying..
the volunteer is asking for the right to go home and get
permission from ‘those at home’ (i.e., his parents). Everyone
listening to the dialogue knows that naturally his father will
refuse.. Thus the volunteer’s excuse is ready-made. Shedding
crocodile tears he can loudly protest that he wants to go but
his father will not permit him” [Through Peasant Eyes p28].
Deep down this man
was almost as unwilling as the previous man.. but he did
volunteer to follow Jesus.. reluctantly.
he was not wholehearted and would be constantly looking back..
and challenged him..
No one who
puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in
the kingdom of God.
it is difficult to keep a modern plough in the right furrow.. it
was much harder then.. just a single plough.. it had to be kept
next to the last furrow.. and you could only do that.. by
looking ahead.. keeping the oxen’s feet in the right place.. and
your weight on the plough. A follower of Jesus.. must not be
reluctant.. ever looking back.. but committed.. resolute..
Again Jesus sets the example..
He had set out resolutely to go to Jerusalem.. and the night
before He suffered He really struggled..
withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and
prayed, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup
from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” An angel from
heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. And being in
anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops
of blood falling to the ground.
He felt the full weight
of what He was about to go through. But He pressed on.. How? His
eyes were fixed on what was ahead.. not only the cross.. but His
resurrection.. and ascension..
What a challenge He is to us to be resolute followers!
Be a true disciple!
Rise above grudges. Rise above retaliation. Follow regardless of
the cost. Be willing. Be resolute.
Draw strength from Jesus!
In the words of
Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our
faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross,
scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne
of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from
sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.