John T. Willis

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Jesus sets his face to go to the Cross--Luke 9:51-62

From the beginning of the story of the birth, visit to Jerusalem at age twelve, and his ministry at about age thirty, Jesus spent almost all his time in Galilee in North Israel. This covers Luke 1:1-9:50. Now, a very distinctive sharp turn in the life of Jesus occurs in Luke 9:51 and through the rest of the Gospel of Luke. Jesus now sets his face to go to Jerusalem, which will take him southward. The first section falls into two parts: Luke 9:51-62. I. Jesus intentionally sets his face to go to Jerusalem. Luke 9:51-56. a. Luke introduces this section of the Gospel in an intriguing way: "When the days drew near for him [Jesus] to be taken up." This obviously refers to the ascension of Jesus after his resurrection. Clearly, the audience knows in advance that Jesus will die, be buried, be raised on the third day, and be "caught up" into heaven. See Luke 24:51; Acts 2:33. The background is Enoch (Genesis 5:21-24) and Elijah (2 Kings 2:1-12) are "caught up" into heaven. Jesus "set his face to go to Jerusalem," demonstrating his resolute determination (see the same idea in Isaiah 50:7)to be arrested, beat, and crucified. (Luke has already prepared the hearers or readers to expect this--see Luke 9:44). 9:51. b. Jesus sent messengers ahead of him. The messengers entered a village of the Samaritans to make ready for Jesus' arrival, but they did not receive him, because his faced was set toward Jerusalem. This is the first mention of Samaritans in the Gospel of Luke. Samaritans are descendants of North Israelites after the division of the kingdom of Israel in the days of Jeroboam I and Rehoboam after the death of Solomon (I Kings 12). After the Assyrian overthrow and captivity of the ten Northern tribes, North Israelites intermarried with people of all nations and became a hybrid people. Luke is the only Gospel which presents several stories about Samaritans. Samaritans and Jews do not associate, so the Samaritans did not want to receive Jesus, because Jesus was obviously a Jew. 9:52-53. c. When James and John, sons of Zebedee, saw the rejection of Jesus by the Samaritans, James and John ask them permission to command fire to come down from heaven and consume the Samaritans. But Jesus rebuked James and John. So they went to another village. In behaving in this way, Jesus gives the example of how we should respond to our enemies. See Luke 6:29. 9:54-56. II. Jesus demonstrates the seriousness of REAL DISCIPLESHIP. Luke 9:57-62. a. As Jesus and his follows travel toward Jerusalem, they encounter three unnamed people, all of whom volunteer to FOLLOW Jesus. Jesus rejects all of them because of their lack of complete commitment. The first person says: "I will follow wherever you go." Jesus replies: "Foxes have holes and birds have nests, but Jesus has nowhere to lay his head." Are YOU REALLY WILLING AND READY to follow me? 9:57-58. b. Jesus first asked a second person: "Follow me." But this person said: "first let me go to bury my father." Jesus replied: "Let the dead bury their own dead," but if YOU REALLY intend to follow me, go and proclaim the kingdom of God." The problem here is putting anything or anyone ABOVE Jesus. Jesus is certainly not opposed to honoring the dead. But Jesus transcends all family ties. 9:59-60. c. A third person came to Jesus and said, "I will wollow you, but let me first say goodbye to my family." This conditional offer is much like the account of Elisha leaving his family to go with Elijah in 1 Kings 19:19-21. Jesus responded: "No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God." Following Jesus requires complete devotion to hard work about the kingdom of God, God's rule on planet earth. This exceeds family affection. 9:61-62. History shows clearly that many people initially turn to God through Jesus Christ, but after a period of time, their commitment is shallow as difficulties arise. Luke 9:51-62 contains a sobering message which all of us need desperately. Share YOUR experiences and failures and shortcomings and commitments to others. Let me hear from YOU. John Willis


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