Summary: Jesus is determined in his march to Jerusalem. Nothing can stop him...or can it?
“Nothing can stop us!” That was the sentiment of many Canadians going into the 2010 Winter Olympics. After all the Olympics were in our backyard and athletes were competing on snow and ice…something we have an abundance of in Canada (er, except for on Cyprus Mountain – the site of many skiing events that kept getting rained on). To top it off the Canadian Olympic Committee invested a lot of money training its athletes in a program called “Own the Podium.” About a week into the competition, however, a Canadian journalist entitled his article, “Flown the Podium.” He, along with much of Canada, was wondering what had happened to the promise of Olympic medals. Of course some feel there was too much pressure on Canadian athletes. They’re only human after all. No matter how big, how fast, how strong they are, or how hard they have trained no athlete is unstoppable. A slight steering error, for example, can cause a bobsled to flip over in an instant dashing medal hopes. Or an overeager start can ruin the race for a speed skater.
While Canada sent 206 athletes to the Winter Games boosting its chances to do well in the overall medal standings, the tiny nation of Israel only sent three competitors. None medaled. But what if one of those athletes had been Jesus of Nazareth? Where would Israel have ended up in the medal standings then? I guess it depends how many events Jesus could have entered. Don’t you think he would have easily won every event in which he competed - whether downhill skiing, speed skating, and even figure skating? He would have won them all because he is the God-man. Nothing can stop Jesus! Actually there is one thing that can stop Jesus. It’s worth finding out what that is because it will make the difference in your final standing with God.
Our text describes Jesus making his last journey to Jerusalem. This journey wasn’t unlike an Olympic torch run. Jesus took his time stopping in little towns and villages, gathering crowds around him to preach and to heal. Somewhere along the way, however, a group of Pharisees warned: “Leave this place and go somewhere else. Herod wants to kill you” (Luke 13:31b). There is some debate whether these Pharisees were sincere but the threat was credible. Herod had beheaded Jesus’ cousin, John the Baptist, after all. If Olympic organizers had received such a threat to any particular torch runner, they would have heightened security and perhaps even have changed the route of the run. But Jesus wasn’t impressed. He replied, “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!” (Luke 13:32, 33)
Really, why should the Lion of Judah be afraid of a fox like old Herod (Daron Lindemann)? Cunning and powerful as he may have been, Herod was no match for Jesus. The one who, with a simple command, stilled a storm could easily depose of assassins, even a whole army sent to kill him. Think of the time Jesus walked right through the mob in Nazareth when they had tried to throw them off the cliff for claiming to be the Messiah. Not a hand could be raised to grab him. Jesus wouldn’t allow it. No, brute force can’t stop Jesus. Not even demonic forces can. In fact Jesus was driving them out.
Did you notice what else can’t stop Jesus? The prospect of death. Jesus knew that death awaited him in Jerusalem but he still pressed on. Well that’s not that impressive is it? I mean the luge athletes didn’t pack it in after one of their number died in a practice run before the Olympics started. And why didn’t they? Glory. They all wanted the gold medal and the accolades that come with it and were willing to risk death to attain it.
Was it a similar desire for personal glory that drove Jesus to Jerusalem? On the contrary. The Lion of Judah strove for Jerusalem so that he could become the Lamb of God and sacrifice himself to pay for the sins of the world. Like a mother who does not hesitate to put her life on the line by diving into the water to save her drowning child, not because she wants her picture in the paper but because she wants her child to live, so motivated by love for us Jesus pressed on for Jerusalem even though he knew that a crown of thorns and not a laurel wreath awaited. What’s more, Jesus gave his life to save people who were not very lovable. How many of you would dive in to save someone who had just stolen your car and driven it into the river after running over your family? That’s what makes Jesus march to Jerusalem so incredible. He forged ahead even though we weren’t deserving of his love. What’s more he pressed on even when it was clear that many could care less about what he was doing for them. In fact many were outwardly opposed to Jesus. Not even ingratitude could stop him, and thank goodness it didn’t or none of us would have been saved.