The last time we were together we looked at the “bold line” of Jesus’ final journey to Jerusalem. The place our bible authors chose to start His journey was a prediction of His death. This wasn’t the first time He had told them about what was to come but it was the most detailed time, before the final night. I want to look at two different times He told them about what “the prophets” wrote about Him. The first is this last “on the road” telling and the second happens on the road to Emmaus.
I want to look at the emotions of the disciples in each of these two instances. I want to look at Jesus’ telling of the story. And I want to look at the results of each of these tellings. Let’s take them one telling at a time to begin with, and then put them together in the end. Let’s put ourselves in the story each time and see where the Holy Spirit takes us. We are going to do this in three parts so reading (and writing) it won’t take forever.
Matthew and Luke share this final “on the road” account with us. I’ve included the links so you can read these two accounts of this event. This event takes place “on the bold line” of His journey, a short distance outside Jerusalem.
I wanted to get an idea about the weather during this final journey and found a couple of sites with good information. Passover is a Spring festival and comes at the end of the “rainy season.” Also the geography of Israel provides temperature changes over even a few miles. My final site stated that the climate during Jesus’ time was probably a bit cooler and wetter. So, taking this information into consideration, let’s set out on the road with Jesus. We are going to be joining Jesus group as Matthew.
We have been traveling all day. Our march is slow because there are so many people around us. As it is still the rainy season the dust created by such a great number of travelers is fairly mild. It reaches the knees but does not sting the eye. Jericho lies ahead of us but we will not reach it before sunset. On a normal journey we would push on to be safe within its confines because of the possibility of bandits but as this is a Passover journey, bandits wouldn’t dare attack such a large group of people, so making camp on the roadside is acceptable. It’s amazing how tired I am considering the distance we have traveled today. Passover journeys are slower paced but still take up the energy of an average day’s walk. I’m ready for rest!
Part of my exhaustion is from constantly keeping an eye open for danger. I know it is Passover and every Jew that can is commanded to come to Jerusalem but it’s not safe for us there. It’s especially not safe for Jesus. A short while ago He escaped from an angry mob ready to stone Him. We tried to talk Him out of making this journey telling Him that there was always next year but He couldn’t be persuaded. At least we aren’t arriving early so as to stick out. We are also traveling with a large group and maybe we can slip in quietly, make our sacrifices, and leave before any trouble starts. Or at least that’s my hope!
People are breaking up into smaller groups to make camp and prepare their evening meal. Meals on the road are not nearly as enjoyable as some of the dinners we have attended but the women traveling with us always seem to bring something good together for us. I’m very grateful for all their help and my stomach thanks them immensely as I can’t stand the thought of my own cooking.
As usual the meal is satisfying and conversation is flowing around the day’s events and what tomorrow will bring. Jesus has been a little quieter during the meal than usual. He seems lost in thought. As dinner is wrapping up He looks up and surveys the group. He leans over to John and whispers into his ear then gets up from the circle and walks into the beginning darkness. John taps Peter on the arm and whispers to him and then gets up to follow Jesus. Peter repeats the process with Andrew and Philip. This process continues until all twelve of us who were singled out by Jesus that one eventful day have received His summons. A couple of others thought to join those leaving the group to join Jesus but a restraining hand was gently laid upon them and they were told Jesus asked for this small band only. This isn’t the first time this has happened and they know to respect His wishes when He calls us twelve to Himself. Besides that, everyone usually hears about what we discussed when we get back. He just wants to be the one to tell us personally of something important coming up.
We twelve gather around Jesus waiting to hear what He has to say. I’m hoping it has something to do with how we can best protect Him or avoid detection when we get to Jerusalem. I know by now that He can’t be persuaded not to go, but we still need to make some kind of plan to keep Him safe. I’m hoping He will choose to stay back until right before the yearly sacrifice, make a quick appearance with His gift and high tail it out of there!
Jesus begins to speak to us. “You are my closest friends. I chose each of you with care. I know you are anxious about this journey and are concerned for my safety. And before you ask, no, I won’t consider not going. ‘So, we are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written about the Son of Man by the prophets will be accomplished. For He will be delivered over to the Gentiles and will be mocked and shamefully treated and spit upon. And after flogging Him, they will kill Him, and on the third day He will rise’ (verses 31b-33).”
No one speaks as Jesus looks around at His closest friends and gives us all a tired smile. Then He steps out of our circle, walks back to camp, gathers His cloak and finds a place to sleep. We are all stunned. How can He drop this bombshell and simply go to bed!
You could have heard a pin drop as He walked away. I had SO many questions I wanted to ask. I know He has referred to Himself as the “Son of Man” before but could He be speaking of someone else in this instance? I certainly hope so! Is He speaking metaphorically? It’s hard to tell sometimes but this time He spoke of specific events. I just don’t understand!
I know I’m not the only one with questions but no one else voices theirs either. The last time anyone really challenged His statement like this was the first time He talked about dying. THAT was NOT a pleasant experience, especially for Peter. No one wants to be the one to challenge Him again on this point.
I need to talk to the others about their thoughts. We need to come up with a plan. Maybe we should get some of the crowd traveling with us involved as His protectors. They have seen His works first hand; surely they will want to help us protect Him.
The longer I think about Jesus’ words the more my heart sinks. All my strength flows out the longer I ponder Jesus’ words. Right now I’m exhausted and all I can think about is sleep. Tomorrow. I’ll talk to the others tomorrow and we will come up with a plan.
Lord Jesus, I can only imagine the pain in Your closest friends’ hearts that night as they lay their heads down. Did they ruminate on Your words all night or were their hearts so heavy they fell right to sleep? You had so much more that could have been said but wasn’t. You were preparing them for what was to come but not enlightening them YET. There was a reason for this too! NO ONE divulges the battle plan to the enemy BEFORE the battle begins. You prepare Your troops for what’s to come and pray for their safety in the midst of the fray. And You did and would do both. You placed them in Your Father’s hands for the time You couldn’t be there with them personally. Even though they loved You with all they knew how to give, they couldn’t stand with You in this final hour. You had to send them running to protect them and to protect our future. Without their firsthand accounts the church wouldn’t have been strong enough to stand the test of time. Thanks for showing me that truth.
“I’ll explain everything; when the time is right.” I’m looking forward to that time too for my own questions. Thank You that You won’t leave me wondering forever. And thank You for preserving the lives of Your closest friends for my benefit.