Luke 9:51When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem.
Jesus’ suffering and death in Jerusalem were no accident. He told his disciples several times that this would be a necessary part of his ministry. In Galilee, with the crowds coming to hear Jesus and the sick being healed, this might have seemed like a remote prospect for the disciples, and they didn’t understand what Jesus was saying.
But the time came for Jesus to leave the relative safety of Galilee and head to Jerusalem. A long road across hills and under a hot sun lay ahead, and as Luke reports in chapter 9, they quickly encountered trouble when a Samaritan village refused them entry. Detours on foot can be exhausting…
What does it feel like to knowingly head for trouble and suffering? Would Jesus and the disciples be frustrated by the hardships on the road to Jerusalem, and jump at the any chance to get out of their difficult and risky journey? A long journey with many opportunities to turn around and go back… No, they were not! Jesus was undeterred; the plans of the Father were clear to him, and the disciples followed along, worried and anxious, but close to Jesus.
It’s a challenging example, but can we learn from them to systematically and enduringly follow Jesus, even when there is clearly trouble on the horizon? What if suffering is written over the part of the map that we are heading to? Will we keep going?
Perhaps surprisingly, Luke does not connect the start of the journey to Jerusalem with suffering, but he writes: “As the days drew near for him to be taken up…” Jesus’ victory over death and his ascension to the Father come into view right from the onset. That may be a perspective that could cheer us on, no matter which road we are traveling on.
Lord Jesus, show us the plans of the Father, and help us to look to your glory and example when we are walking on a difficult path. Amen.