Monday, April 6, 2009
Now it came to pass when the time had come for Jesus to be received up, that he steadfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem – Luke 9:51.
This verse describes the focus of all of Jesus’ actions during the weeks leading to the cross. “He steadfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem.” Some versions read, “He determined to journey to Jerusalem.” Jesus set his eyes on the cross. With determination and purpose Jesus began his approach to the city where he knew the crucifixion and resurrection awaited.
As we enter Holy Week, let’s focus on Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem. After nearly three years of ministry and in the weeks before his crucifixion, Jesus began to prepare the disciples for his departure. As he headed toward Jerusalem, some of the disciples found reasons to delay following him. But Jesus told them they couldn’t plow forward while looking behind. “Follow me,” he said. He reminded them not to look back but to keep focused on the goal, the kingdom of God. He asks us this week to "Follow him."
During this journey to Jerusalem Jesus taught through parables, visited Mary and Martha, taught the disciples how to pray, dined with a Pharisee, healed the infirmed, raised Lazarus from the dead, and answered questions by the Pharisees. His eyes were on his goal – the kingdom of God. Then before his triumphal ride into the city, he took his disciples aside to remind them, “Listen, we are going to Jerusalem” (Luke 18:31). I imagine he was helping them to keep their focus. This week the still small voice whispers to us, “Listen, we are going to Jerusalem.”
During Holy Week Christians all over the world commemorate the suffering and death of Jesus. We set our face on Jerusalem as we concentrate on the preparations for Jesus’ death that took place in the last week of his life.
Jesus prepared his disciples through the Passover meal, our First Lord’s Supper, by predicting his suffering, by giving them symbols of remembrance, and by guiding them to be servants.
Jesus prepared himself through his time of prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane where he prayed, “not My will, but Yours, be done” (Luke 22:42).
Jesus’ enemies prepared themselves too. Judas left during the Last Supper and aligned himself with Chief Priests, Pharisees, and fanatics who led Jesus to his tribunal.
Through it all, Jesus’ eyes were fixed on the cross. What preparations have you made to experience the cross this week?
Whether through shouts of “Blessed be the King” or “Crucify him,” Jesus kept his focus. He knew his mission: he came to serve and give his life as a ransom (Mark 10:45).
What is your focus this week? Are you able to fix your eyes on the cross? Can you “set your face to go to Jerusalem?”
Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter 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. Hebrews 12:2
I’ll never forget fixing my eyes on the hill of Golgotha a decade ago and imagining the pain and agony our Savior endured. Then I walked a short distance to the garden tomb and with tears of joy read the words, “He Is Not Here For He Is Risen.” When we fix our eyes on the cross we have the promise of life eternal with the risen Lord.
It is only by going through the agony and darkness of Holy Week that we can imagine the horrors of sin and its consequences. It is by contemplating the despair his faithful followers felt on Holy Saturday that we can truly appreciate the hope of Easter Sunday.