“When the days drew near for Him to be taken up, He set His face to go to Jerusalem.” Luke 9:51 From chapter four to this verse in chapter nine Jesus has been teaching, preaching, and healing the sick throughout Galilee, but now everything is to change. With the words, “He set His face to go to Jerusalem,” the most important journey in the history of the world is about to take place.
Jesus is about to leave His ministry to the Galileans and begin His journey towards the great city of Jerusalem, its Temple and to the cross where He would die. There was no turning back, He set His focus on the redemption of mankind and nothing could deter Him from presenting His body a living sacrifice for the salvation to all who would believe.
The story of this journey takes us from Luke 9:51 through chapter 19:27 and through the pages of Luke’s history we get glimpses into what Jesus is about to face in Jerusalem. He instructs His disciples about how He must suffer for the salvation of sinners (Luke 9:43-45; 18:31-34) so that He may bring hope and joy to all who have strayed from God. But, He also begins to experience real opposition from those who reject His claim of good news for the lost.
Jerusalem should have been the place where Jesus would have received a royal welcome as the Messiah and Redeemer of Israel, but instead it was the city that held out the cross instead of adoration. It was there in Jerusalem that Jesus taught His last parables, corrected the corrupt teachings of the temple leaders, prophesied the destruction of the Temple, told of the end of the world that was to come and celebrated His last Passover supper.
Jerusalem was a city that was used to killing the prophets (Luke 13:33) and it was a harsh place for anyone who would preach the pure gospel that contradicted the teachings of the established temple structure. It was in Jerusalem that people plotted against Jesus and made their pact to have Him killed. It was there that He was betrayed with a kiss, arrested by the temple police and abused by the Roman soldiers. It was in that great city that He was dragged before the Jews on trumped up charges, then sent to Pilate the governor who sent Him on to King Herod. Later Herod would send Him back to Pilate who, though he washed his hands of the affair, still had Jesus killed.
Spineless Pilate, even though he had the might of Rome behind him, still wavered and surrendered his authority to a mob of discontents and hatemongers. So it was that in Jerusalem Jesus was stripped naked, beaten by sadistic Roman guards, paraded through the streets carrying His cross, and finally nailed to the cross. In Jerusalem, after death, He would be taken down off the cross by Nicodemus and Joseph and buried in a tomb.
It was in Jerusalem, three days after the crucifixion, that God rolled the stone away from the burial chamber and Jesus burst forth into ever lasting life. It was in Jerusalem that Jesus rose again and the grave could not hold Him, and it was in Jerusalem that Jesus sacrifice for you and me was accepted and He rose up into the Heavens to sit at the right hand of God to make intercession for us throughout the ages.
It was no little thing when Jesus set His face towards Jerusalem because we were on His heart and nothing could stop Him from taking our place on that cross so that we could be called sons and daughters of God. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16
Let me ask you a simple question; “have you set your face towards Jesus?” It is easy to get caught up in the commercialism of the season and forget about the birth, ministry and death of our Savior. But, if we set our eyes on Christ and keep Him in focus, this Christmas season will be a reminder of how much we mean to God and how much He was willing to give that we could escape the consequences of sin and rebellion and find safety and salvation in His substitutionary death.