************ Sermon on Luke 9:51 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on March 10, 2019
"Jesus Set Out for Jerusalem"
Lord's Supper; Lent
I From Galilee to Jerusalem
A Up to this point in Luke's gospel, Jesus' ministry has been focused on Galilee. He started in Nazareth. He moved to Capernaum. He called His first disciples as they were washing their nets by the Sea of Galilee. He traveled about from one town and village to another: Cana, Korazin, Caesarea Philippi, Bethsaida, Kadesh. He taught. He healed. He calmed a storm. He cast out evil spirits. He raised the dead. He was transfigured.
The disciples see and hear all of this. It has been revealed to them exactly Who Jesus is. They know Jesus is "The Christ of God" (Lk 9:20).
B Our text marks a change. Jesus has been in Galilee for over a year. But now He is going to Jerusalem. Jerusalem is only a couple of days walk from Galilee. But Jesus is going to take a couple of months to get there. He is not going to go straight there; rather, He is taking a meandering path. He leaves Galilee, He goes back to Galilee. He makes a couple of short trips to Jerusalem. But all of it is focused on ending up in Jerusalem Passover week.
II As the Time Approached
A Our text begins with "As the time approached ..." A specific time is in mind. Just like today is the day designated to change our clocks so a time has been designated for Jesus. Who does the designating? The government sets the day when we change to daylight saving time. And, it is God Who sets the time mentioned by our text. It is part of His plan. It is on His calendar. He sets the schedule. Jesus is directed by a divine timetable (cf Jn 2:4; 7:6,8,30; 8:20; 13:1; 17:1). Jesus does not operate on the time schedule of His disciples or of the Pharisees or of Herod or of Pilate or of Caesar. Jesus operates on God's schedule.
B "As the time approached ..." The time for what? Read our text carefully. Does it say, "As the time approached for him to suffer and die"? Does it say, "As the time approached for him to be delivered into the hands of men"? Does it say, "As the time approached for his betrayal"? No! It says, "As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven ..."
A literal translation of the Greek does not have the words "to heaven." So it says, "As the time approached for him to be taken up." Some wrongly read this in the light of John 3, just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up to die. Or John 12, where Jesus says He is lifted up from the earth to show the kind of death He was going to die.
To understand our text we need to go back to the Transfiguration. Moses and Elijah appeared in glorious splendor and talked with Jesus. Do you know what they were talking about? This might surprise you: "They spoke about his departure, which he was about to bring to fulfillment at Jerusalem" (Lk 9:31).
C "As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven ..." Jesus heads toward Jerusalem so He can depart from earth; so He can ascend into heaven; so His can be kingdom, power, glory. Listen to Jesus' prayer in John 17:
(Jn 17:4-5) I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do. (5) And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.Do you hear what Jesus is saying? "Father, I am ready to come back. I am ready to have glory again."
At this point the disciples are also ready. They are ready for kingdom, power, and glory for Jesus; not only for Jesus but also for themselves and their place in that kingdom, power, glory. So what does the Bible say they do? "An argument started among the disciples as to which of them would be the greatest" (Lk 9:46). Who of the Twelve is going to be sitting closest to Jesus on his right and left? Who is going to have the most power? Who is going to be Jesus' chief of staff or Secretary of State?
The disciples are ready for the glory. But do you remember what Jesus says? He rains on their parade when He says,
(Lk 9:22) "The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life."Jesus is ready for glory. But glory doesn't happen until He goes the way of the cross and the grave.
"As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven ..." Jesus is going to heaven. Jesus is going to glory. But according to God's plan, God's eternal plan for our salvation, Jesus has to first undergo humiliation. So, He emptied Himself, He took the nature of a servant, He was made in human likeness, He became obedient to death -- even death on a cross, He was put in a grave. Once all of this was done, once all of this was accomplished, once all of this was fulfilled -- according to the plan of God -- then Jesus is going to be exalted to the highest place and given the name above every name.
D "As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven ..." I want you to listen to Hebrews 12:
(Heb 12:2) 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.Like Hebrews says, Jesus sees past the cross and its shame to the glory of the ascension. Jesus is looking all the way to heavenly glory. Yes, He is going to suffer and die. Yes, He is going to suffer every kind of humiliation. But, even more important, He is going to be glorified.
Our Bible reading describes a journey. It starts in Galilee. For 32 years Jesus has lived and then ministered in Galilee. That's where the journey begins -- with the towns and villages of Galilee. Then He goes through Samaria. After a couple of months He will arrive in Jerusalem. Galilee, Samaria, Jerusalem. But none of these are the final destination. All of these are but way-stations. The real destination is heaven, at the right hand of God, where Jesus has kingdom and power and glory.
As we observe Lent this year, let's keep in mind the final destination is not the cross and the grave but heaven itself. Don't stop at the cross. Don't stop at the grave. Like Jesus, see past them to the kingdom, power, glory.
E We need to look at the word "resolutely." As the time approached for Him to be taken up to heaven, "Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem." Resolutely. An old translation says "he steadfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem." This is the fulfilment of what was said by Isaiah: "I set my face like flint, and I know I will not be put to shame " (Is 50:7).
To go to heaven Jesus has to pass through Samaria and Jerusalem. None of this is easy. It is the way of pain and suffering. So this requires self-discipline. This requires conviction. This requires determination. This requires unwavering commitment. This is what our text has in mind by using the word "resolutely."
This is a reminder that Jesus is not a victim. If we look at Jesus' death merely as the result of Judas' greed and deceit, the Sanhedrin's envy, Pilate's spinelessness, and the soldiers' brutality, it might seem involuntary. But once you read that word "resolutely" all such thoughts vanish. Jesus is not accidentally entangled in a web of injustice. It is all part of the plan. So Jesus "resolutely" set out for Jerusalem. When Jesus set His face to go to Jerusalem, He set His face to die. Because that is the way, the only way, to the glories of heaven.
III Through Samaria
A Jesus is on the way to Jerusalem. But a stopping point on the way is Samaria. Telling us what? Telling us Jesus' ministry is not just for the Jews. Telling us Jesus' ministry includes the Gentiles.
The Jews, including the disciples, need to see this. You see, the Jews hated the Samaritans. Samaritans were a mixed race, offspring of the northern kingdom of Israel who intermarried with pagans and worshiped at Mt. Gerizim rather than Jerusalem. They abandoned their Jewish roots and heritage. They became pagan. They feared the Lord but they also served their own gods (2 Kings 17:33).
Generally, Jews going from Galilee to Jerusalem didn't even walk through Samaria. They would go around and cross the Jordan twice, just to avoid going through there. When Jews did go through Samaria they brought their own food rather than eat food contaminated by the unclean Samaritans.
Jews hated Samaritans and Samaritans hated them right back. In 128 B.C. a Jewish king destroyed the Samaritan place of worship at Mt. Gerizim. Even though it was 150 years earlier, there still were hard feelings. And, when Jews actually traveled through Samaria, the Jewish historian Josephus tells us the Samaritans murdered some of them.
Yet, here is Jesus going through Samaria. And even stopping off at one of their villages. Radical. Unheard of. But, then, Jesus has no problems hanging around with tax collectors, prostitutes, criminals, lepers, the diseased, the dead, the blind, and children. Jesus pays attention to those the rabbis wrote off.
Jesus sends messengers on ahead to make arrangements for them in the Samaritan village. What kind of arrangements? We aren't told -- perhaps food and lodging. Jesus is willing to go where Jewish religion will not go. Where hatred exists. To people of another religion.
B "But the people there did not welcome him" (Lk 9:53). The villagers said to the messengers, "We don't want him. We don't want you. Keep away from our village."
Do you know why? Why they rejected the Lord? "Because He was heading for Jerusalem" (Lk 9:53). Because He was going to the city and Temple they despised. Their temple was never rebuilt and all they were left with was an outdoor kind of place while the Jews had this magnificent temple built by Herod. That made the Samaritans angry and jealous.
James and John do not like this. They do not like the response of the Samaritans. They love the Lord. They have seen His glory on the mountain. They can't believe anyone will reject Jesus. They are outraged and ask if they can "call fire down from heaven to destroy them" (Lk 9:54). They think they can do what Elijah did when he called down fire from heaven upon two groups of fifty soldiers (2 Kings 1).
Look at Jesus' response: "Jesus turned and rebuked them" (Lk 9:55). A footnote at the bottom of our pew Bibles tells us a variant reading for verse 56: "for the Son of Man did not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them." This is the same thing we read in Luke 19: "For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost" (Lk 19:10).
Hear this: the way to glory means suffering and death in Jerusalem. But the way to glory also means He seeks and saves what is lost. Including you and me.
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