We looked at Jesus’ singular purpose the last time we were together. As He nears His “point B” His resolve and determination embolden that “line.”
“When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem” (Luke 9:51). Jesus didn’t stop ministering to those along the way but He stopped taking “detours” on His final approach. Matthew and Mark take us on a “fast march” from Galilee to Jerusalem but Luke “points out all the sights” along the way. This may be because Matthew and Mark appear to follow Jesus’ story chronologically and Luke appears to take a more “detailed” approach to his telling of the story.
All three writers tell us that after Jesus begins telling His disciples about His death, the path to Jerusalem becomes a fixed destination for Jesus. They hear what He is saying awaits them but they don’t really understand it. This is pretty evident in the event described by Matthew and Mark right after Jesus’ third prediction of His death. James and John have a request presented to sit on either side of Jesus in His kingdom. What a strange request to make of a Jesus when He has just told them of His impending death. “He must be speaking metaphorically”, reason His disciples. Boy were they in for an awakening!
Jesus cannot be swayed from His “bold line” path now. He has one destination in mind; the cross. His followers KNOW that it is dangerous for Him to appear in public now. He has caused a LOT of stir in the religious community. They are out for blood; His blood. His disciples try everything they can to dissuade Him from this trip.
Jesus’ disciples know something is going to happen when they get to Jerusalem. They are fearing the worst but hoping for the best. They are watching for any signs of trouble or turning point in this journey. “Maybe He will change His mind and we won’t really go all the way in.” “Maybe the crowds will crown Him king in spite of the Pharisees objections.” “Maybe He will strike all the opposition down and take the kingdom.” “NO WAY are we going to let His predictions come true! We will stand and fight our way out if we have to. Be ready men.”
I’m sure there was much excitement and anticipation as Jesus finally entered the city, but we will get to that event later. The point I want to make is that Jesus, regardless of what ANYONE else thought, KNEW His destination and made a “bold line” for it. When He was ready to head to Jerusalem that last time, He didn’t wander off course. He didn’t get sidetracked by the crowds. He pushed forward every day, no matter what lay ahead. He didn’t even detour out of the way to get the donkey He would need for His ride into Jerusalem. He sent a few of His followers to fetch it and bring it back to Him.
Jesus didn’t ignore the needs along the way, as blind Bartimaeus can attest to. But they have to occur on His way and rise to a level to grab His attention. Bartimaeus wouldn’t shut up until he got a touch from the Master. I can imagine Jesus’ disciples trying their best to keep the crowds at bay as He moved resolutely towards Jerusalem. There were definitely people traveling with Him and following Him as He made this journey. He was not isolated from the people but maybe He was being insulated from them instead.
This journey would likely take about a week. It would be shorter if He was welcomed to go through Samaria and was traveling with a smaller group or on His own. Matthew and Mark only highlight two events during this time of travel. Maybe Luke’s telling included more of the details along that final march, instead of strictly being a topological account. I may have to do some cross referencing of the three accounts to have a better idea about this possibility. If Matthew and Mark mention some of the events Luke shares in a different timeframe for Jesus, it is more likely that Luke grouped Jesus’ experiences together instead of following a timeline. We KNOW John doesn’t follow a timeline in his telling of Jesus’ story.
What was Jesus thinking about as He made this final walk to Jerusalem? Was He in prayer with the Father? Was His mind occupied with the cross or the His resurrection? Was He thinking about how His disciples would do during His three day absence? Was He planning out their itinerary for the week? Was He taking time to enjoy the company moving with Him? Was He wishing for some alone time? Did He take time out to teach His disciples along the way? Did He take in the smells, sights, and sounds a little deeper, knowing that He would not pass this way again?
One thing we know for sure is that Jesus made this journey FULLY aware of what lay ahead. He KNEW what was coming and nothing anyone said or did could keep Him from this appointment. Did He carry this knowledge as a burden or a joy? The Garden scene, which we will also get to later, makes me think this knowledge was burdensome. But we are also told in Hebrew that there was also joy in His heart. It wasn’t for what was coming but for what was on the other side of it.
Lord Jesus, I can’t begin to imagine the burden You carried while on that last journey. I know You didn’t “worry” about it but I can’t imagine that Your future ever left Your mind. You knew exactly what was coming, the players involved, and the toll it would take on You. You carried that knowledge EVERY STEP OF THE WAY. And You never turned back. I would have been looking for the first hiding spot!
Father God, THANK YOU for the comfort You gave Jesus on this journey! I know in my heart that it was Your presence with Him that buoyed Him on this final leg of His journey. I KNOW that You sent Him even more help that last night in the Garden.
THANK YOU that I don’t walk alone either. There is NO WAY I could make it through this life on my own. I tend to “worry” though more than I should. I trust You but then I start thinking about what lies ahead. I wonder if I knew EXACTLY what lay ahead if it would be harder or easier. Would I start looking for an escape route or forge on ahead with You? Would I make the same CHOICE Jesus did? And He had a choice. He chose ME. THANK YOU JESUS ! I am SO grateful You did. And I’m SO sorry for what it cost You. I want to say, “Please forgive me for the pain I caused You”, but I know You already did. Thank You with ALL my heart.