Summary: Marvel at Jesus’ March to Jerusalem 1) It was unstoppable 2) It was unappreciated
About 2,300 years ago a young man by the name of Alexander walked into the history books when he led his army on an 18,000 km march from his home in Greece all the way to India. If you wanted to travel that far in Canada you would have to make two round trips from Vancouver to Montreal! This march wasn’t just impressive because it was far-reaching but because it was unstoppable. Alexander didn’t just travel 18,000 km he fought his way through it and never once met an enemy that he didn’t defeat. The only reason he didn’t go farther was that his soldiers became homesick and wanted to return to Greece.
Alexander’s march was far-reaching in another way; some 2,300 years later it still affects us today. That’s remarkable when you consider that Alexander never set foot in Canada. His far-reaching forays made Greek culture and language the standard of the world for over three centuries. Because of that we now have many Greek words in our language - words like biology, philosophy, telephone, and telescope. Our art, architecture, and democratic form of government have all been greatly influenced by the Greeks as well. If Alexander had not conquered the world, the Persians (most modern day Iranians) would have conquered it, and our language, art, and government today would have a Persian tinge, not a Greek one. What Alexander accomplished is impressive especially when you consider that he did it all by age 33! It’s no wonder he’s called Alexander the Great.
About 330 years after Alexander the Great died another remarkable 33 year old embarked on a march. Like Alexander’s march this one was unstoppable. But because this march didn’t seem to be nearly as far-reaching as Alexander’s (only 120 km in all - Edmonton to Lacombe) it was not appreciated then and often remains unappreciated today. That’s why today I’m inviting you to come with me to Palestine to view Jesus’ unstoppable and often unappreciated march to Jerusalem. Under inspection we’ll see that it’s a march worth saluting.
Jesus began his march to Jerusalem from Galilee. As he headed south the Pharisees brought word that Herod wanted to kill him and they urged Jesus to leave the vicinity at once. What’s wrong with that picture? Since when were the Pharisees concerned about Jesus’ well being? They had wanted to kill him from the very beginning so why should they warn Jesus about a plot against his life now?
We really don’t know what the Pharisees were up to. Perhaps they made the story up to frighten Jesus into hurrying to Jerusalem where they were waiting to silence him once and for all? Or maybe this was Herod’s way of scaring Jesus out of his territory? We’re told that when Herod heard about everything that Jesus was doing he thought that it might be John the Baptist come back to life (Lk. 9:7). That was a scary thought for Herod because he had been the one who had ordered John’s execution.
While we really don’t know what was going on Jesus was unfazed. He said to the Pharisees, “Go tell that fox, ‘I will drive out demons and heal people today and tomorrow, and on the third day I will reach my goal.’ 33 In any case, I must keep going today and tomorrow and the next day—for surely no prophet can die outside Jerusalem!” (Lk. 13:32, 33)
Jesus’ reply spoke to both the Pharisees and Herod. He showed that he wasn’t afraid of either of them. Why should he be? He had the power to drive out demons! Sure, Herod might be crafty like a fox and he may have arranged John the Baptist’s execution but that wasn’t going to cause Jesus to change his plans. He would continue to drive out demons, and heal the sick where he wanted, when he wanted and no one was going to stop him – not even Herod. And as for the Pharisees? Well, they would get their shot at Jesus soon enough but not until he was willing.
Of course the Pharisees and Herod weren’t the first to try to get Jesus off track. Last week we heard how Satan tempted Jesus early in his ministry. In one of those temptations Satan showed Jesus all the kingdoms of the world and promised to give those to him if Jesus would only bow down and worship him. Was it tempting? Sure it was. Satan wanted Jesus to think that this was the “easy” way out. Instead of having to put up with slow disciples and vindictive enemies Jesus could enjoy power and prestige if only he would only bow down. Thankfully Jesus blew Satan off as he did Herod and the Pharisees. Nothing, not even Satan was going to stop his march to Jerusalem where he would die for the sins of the world.