Verse 51 marks a turning point in Luke. From here though 19:44, Luke writes of Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem. Jesus “set his face” to go to Jerusalem and die. Luke writes of the timing: “when the days drew near for him to be taken up”. The time had come for Jesus to die for our sins. He knew it was coming. So he determined to go there. His journey would take several months. This is also why he has begun to tell his disciples that he will be killed.
But Jesus did not go to Jerusalem only to die. He also went to be raised from the dead. Luke said the time drew near “for him to be taken up”. (51) Jesus looked forward to resurrection and ascension into heaven.
Isaiah 50:4-11 is the third of the four “Servant Songs” in Isaiah. Verse 7 prophesies the words of the Servant:
But the Lord God helps me;
Therefore I have not been disgraced;
Therefore I have set my face like a flint,
And I know that I shall not be put to shame.
As Jesus began his journey, he and his disciples needed places to spend the night along the way. Since there were no hotels, it was customary for a traveling Jew to go into a town and wait for someone to take him in.
Since there were disciples traveling with Jesus, he sent messengers ahead to a village so they could prepare to receive all of them. However, the village was a Samaritan village. Samaritans and Jews did not associate with each other. In fact, Jews would often walk a longer road to avoid going through Samaria. The Samaritans in turn came to resent the Jews. The village refused to receive Jesus and the disciples because he was going to Jerusalem.
When James and John, the Sons of Thunder, heard of this rejection, they offered to call down fire on the village. Fire represents judgment. Remember when God destroyed Sodom by raining down sulfur and fire from heaven. (Genesis 19:23) This would be a judgment on the village for rejecting Christ. Or maybe they were thinking of Elijah calling down fire on the 50 soldiers sent to capture him. (2 Kings 1:9-10)
But Jesus rebuked them. It was not the time for judgment. It was not time for destroying enemies. It was the time for preaching the gospel. When Christ returns, it will be time for judgment and destruction of Christ’s enemies. Until then, it is time for mercy.
The Cost of Discipleship, Part 2
As Jesus began his final journey, some approached him and wanted to follow him. Jesus previously spoke about this, saying that if one wanted to come after him, he or she must deny themselves, take up their cross daily and follow him. (23) In response to these volunteers, Jesus spoke more about the requirements of discipleship.
The first person said “I will follow you wherever you go”. (57) That is a statement of a sincere desire to follow Jesus. But Jesus pointed out the difficulty. He said although animals and birds have homes, Jesus as the Son of Man had nowhere to lay his head. (58) Jesus did not own property or even rent it. There was no room for him in the inn when he was born. A Samaritan village had just refused to put him up for the night.
Jesus’ devotion to his ministry caused him to do without many comforts. You know how you come back from a trip, even a fun one, and say “it is so good to back in my own bed”? Jesus never said that. He did not have a bed. He slept in other peoples homes or on the ground.
The second person was called by Jesus to follow. (59) That person wanted to wait to bury his father. This does not mean a funeral was pending. It meant his father was elderly and he wanted to take care of him until he died. He said “first” let me me and take care of my father. After that, he would follow Jesus. He wanted to negotiate the terms of his discipleship. He wanted to put his family commitments ahead of following Jesus. But Jesus told him to go and proclaim the kingdom of God. (60)
This is what Jesus did. His family tried to bring him home. They tried to halt his preaching. But Jesus refused and said his family consisted of those who obeyed and followed him.
This command my seem harsh. But remember who Jesus is. He is God, the second person of the Trinity, our savior and our Lord. He is above all commitments we have. He is our first duty.
The final encounter involved one who said he would follow Jesus, not waiting for anyone to die, but wanted to go and say farewell to the people at home. (61) Jesus knew something other than discipleship was first in the man’s heart. So, he told him not to look back, to follow immediately and completely. If you look back, you will want to go back.
This is a good day to examine your priorities. It is a good day to re-arrange priorities. Make sure you put Christ first in your life!