Summary: A challenging address for the week before Palm Sunday
Jesus set his face towards Jerusalem - where are you heading?
Reading Luke 9 51 -62
1) The undeterred Christ
"Now it came to pass that when the time came for him to be received up that he steadfastly set his face to go towards Jerusalem"v 51
At times we forget how important Luke’s contribution is to the New Testament. When you add together Luke’s gospel and his other book - Acts - you are looking at about 25% of the New Testament.
Luke 9: 51 -56 is unique to this gospel - none of the other writers mention it
We do not know how the Father made his will known to the Son. Doubtless that would have happened in the many times and occasions that Jesus sought to be alone before God in prayer. In Luke 9 :31 at the incident we call the transfiguration Moses and Elijah appeared to Jesus and there was some sort of discussion regarding his forthcoming death at Jerusalem.
At some stage in his ministry Jesus became convinced that the time had arrived for the final confrontation between the forces of religious traditionalism and evil which were arrayed against him in Jerusalem and so Jesus determined to go there.
He deliberately set out to initiate the circumstances which would lead to his death.
We see in this something very steely about the character of Jesus. He
Moved with resolution, determination and courage. He was not driven by events but a shaper of events. He was very focussed on doing the Father’s will and was undeterred by people’s opinions and adverse circumstances.
In that he was unlike many people today whose convictions bend with the changing winds of political correctness. Jesus was not a man whose chief value was to preserve himself. He pressed on.
The Son of Man had come to give his life a ransom for many and Jerusalem - the city of God’s peace - was to become the place where through his sacrificial death Jesus was going to be able to give to those who trusted in him what the Bible calls a peace which passes all understanding.
2) The unwelcoming Samaritans
"They did not receive him for his face was set for the journey to Jerusalem" v 54
Luke doesn’t always portray the Samaritans in an unfavourable light. He and he alone gives us in 10:30- 37 the story of the good Samaritan and the story of the healing of ten lepers, noting in chapter 17:16 that of the ten healed only one - a Samaritan - returned to thank the Lord. It is Luke in the book of Acts who tells us that the gospel was to be preached in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the ends of the earth, and it is Luke in Acts 8 who tells us how the story of Samaria ended when many came to the Lord and were filled with the Spirit.
Here however in Luke 9 we do not see that. Here in Luke 9 something of the traditional hostility between Jew and Samaritan comes to the fore but Jesus teaches that hostility must not be returned with hostility.
Jesus was rejected by the Samaritans just as in Luke 4: 28 he was rejected by those in the synagogue at Nazareth.
Because of what Luke later writes about Samaritans I believe we can take heart from these verses. All of us know people who do not care for the gospel. Some people are like the Samaritans in that they appear to have no time for Jesus and little interest in receiving the good news that Jesus is alive today. Because we are familiar with how the story ends I want to encourage you to believe that God can change the people who are apparently uncaring. Don’t write people off in your attitude ( The Della illustration) We mustn’t be put off by people’s outward negative reactions which may just be the sign of a hurting heart which will respond to love.
(LETS STOP FOR A MOMENT AND HOLD UP SOMEONE TO THE LORD WHOM WE THINK IS HARDENED AND NOT RECEPTIVE TO GOSPEL)
3) The uncaring disciples
"Lord do you want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them ,just as Elijah did? V 54
God can make something even of our mistakes if we truly repent from our sins. Here in Luke’s gospel James and John were all for calling down destructive fire from heaven but in Acts 8:14 it was this same John who was sent from Jerusalem to Samaria after many people had been converted there to pray for them to receive the fire of the baptism in the Holy Spirit.
Perhaps James and John were a bit over zealous. There suggestion to call down fire is clearly based on 2 Kings 1:10 where Elijah did just that. Just a few days or maybe even only hours ago these two had been with Jesus on thre mount when Moses and Elijah had appeared to Jesus and spoken with him about his forthcoming death so it should come as no surprise that James and John suggest getting into the swing of the miraculous.