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God’s Word for You

Luke 9:51-55a

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Jesus Is Determined to Go to Jerusalem

51 When the days drew near for him to be taken up, Jesus was determined to go to Jerusalem.

After Jesus underwent the transfiguration and was encouraged by Elijah and Moses, he “set his face to go to Jerusalem.” This expression is to prosopon esterisen (τὸ πρόσωπον ἐστήρισεν) “to set one’s face toward” something. It seems to have something in common with our English expression, “heading toward….” It occurs in almost the same phraseology in Hebrew. In 2 Kings 12:17 the King of Aram “set his face toward” (attacking) Jerusalem. In Jeremiah 21:10, the Lord sets his face toward harming his people for their chastisement. Here, Jesus is heading or setting his face toward taking on the punishment for all mankind on himself, to save the whole world from their sins.

Jesus did not plan to take the shortest route. It’s not that he was hesitant about going, but this trip toward the cross had many stops ahead; there was plenty of preaching to be done first. Jesus could have made the journey in a week or so, but he took a year. Luke takes this opportunity to record quite a few things Jesus said, especially in the form of parables, in this part of his Gospel. The journey itself concludes in chapters 18-19, but between the end of chapter 9 and the arrival at Jericho (Luke 18:35), there are almost forty separate incidents that are recorded—about one story or parable for every 9 or 10 days of this third year of the Lord’s ministry (that’s an average number—many of the events happened one after another, or two or three on the same day). Also, some of the things Luke records here may have been spoken by Jesus at other times but are set in these chapters topically, like the three parables about the lost sheep, lost coin, and lost son.

52 He sent messengers ahead of him. They went into a Samaritan village to make preparations for him. 53 The people did not welcome him, because he was determined to go to Jerusalem.

Since the group traveling with Jesus was getting quite large, Jesu sent James and John ahead to make preparations for the group to have water, food, and shelter. You may recall that by this time the group included certain wealthy women, Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Susanna, and others (Luke 8:2-3).

There were always tensions and even hostility between the Jews and the Samaritans. Although the Samaritans of this village might have welcomed Jesus in another circumstance, the news that he was on his way to Jerusalem stirred the village up. Jesus was not welcome there.

54 When his disciples James and John saw this, they said, “Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven to consume them?” 55 But he turned and rebuked them.

James and John, the “sons of thunder” (Mark 3:17), wanted to call down thunder, lightning, and fire from heaven to destroy these cities like Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19:24). Of course, Sodom was destroyed for its unbelief and for its terrible wickedness. This Samaritan village simply reacted badly to the approach of a Jewish rabbi. We’re told here that Jesus rebuked them, and tomorrow we will take a look at a variant reading that report’s Jesus’ possible answer to James and John.

As the Lord made his way to Jerusalem, he had in mind the salvation of souls. He would hold out his gospel to Jews and Gentiles alike. This is the same Gospel that has come to you and me; the same Gospel that has offered Jesus’ forgiveness to each one of us.

Consider what happened here outside a village in Samaria. Jesus wanted to go in. He wanted to preach repentance and the forgiveness of sins to the Samaritans just as he had to the Galileans, but the Samaritans rejected him. Does that mean that there is any flaw in Jesus? Does that mean that Jesus had limitations, or that he failed? Not at all. It tells us that Jesus doesn’t omit anyone when he offers himself to the world Praise him for reaching out to everyone in the world. Remember that he knows you and cares about you, personally.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim SmithAbout Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. His wife, Kathryn, attended the Chapel from 1987-1990 while studying Secondary Education (Theater and Math) at UW-Madison. Kathryn’s father, John Meyer, was also the first man to serve as a Vicar at Chapel.

To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.

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