John Ditty Sunday School Lesson
April 14, 2014
(Luke 9:51) Ever been resolved to get something done? Ever been so resolute that you were determined that nothing would deter you from the seeing the task through to completion? Have you ever noticed that so often the things that people are so unwavering to about really don’t make much difference in the forward movement of humanity? I am a teacher and have watched students so determined to get an A on a test that they spend endless hours in preparation. They forsake family and friends, even meals to achieve their goal. They have set in their minds that this goal must be accomplished. Then, when the test finds its place in history it is never visited again. No one asks to see it; no war stories are told concerning it; no corporate headhunter expects to find in the portfolio. Though it was gloriously passed it is now in the past. All the determination is forgotten.
So much of what folks fret and sweat over ends this way. But there are times that such determination does make a difference. There are activities that, because of the bulldogged determination of an individual, have changes the course of human history. Salk and his vaccine, Edison and his light bulb, tyrants and their greed and lust for power. What is true of all these is there was a starting point which was also a point of no return.
As we move closer to the celebration of the resurrection, let’s look to the day that Jesus acted with resolve. The gospel writer Luke records that day. As he was writing the story of Jesus to a friend known only as Theophilus, Luke tells of the day when Jesus’ heart was resolved; it was time to head toward Jerusalem. The statement is found in Luke 9:51, “As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem.” The KJV puts it this way, “And it came to pass, when the time was come that he should be received up, he steadfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem.” Take a moment and ponder the words. What difference did it make that Jesus was resolved to go to Jerusalem?
Luke began to answer the question when he wrote, “As the time approached…” What time is he referring to? The answer is found throughout the Old Testament. For centuries, God had been revealing to humanity that a time was coming when sin’s death grip on man would come to an end. God made His plan known as far back as the Garden of Eden. “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel,” God forewarned the serpent who would later be identified as Satan (Revelation 12:9), and made a promise to humanity.
As Luke wrote of Jesus setting His to go to Jerusalem, he was telling us that the wheels were set in motion to crush the serpent’s head. God told of this more than 400 years before Christ stating, “I will remove the sin of this land in a single day” (Zechariah 3:9). Zechariah’s single day was Luke’s approaching day. It was the day when our sins would be forgiven. That day was the die Jesus died on the cross and His work for which He came would be done. After that day He would go home.
So why was it essential for Jesus to set His face to go to Jerusalem? It would be there that the curse of death would be broken. The power of death crushed.
Why did He have to go to Jerusalem? Jesus explained to His disciples that “he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life” (Matthew 6:21). His words again point to His resolve.
Why did He have to die? Isaiah explains, “Surely He took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered Him punished by God, stricken by Him, and afflicted. But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on Him, and by His wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all… After He has suffered, He will see the light of life and be satisfied; by His knowledge My righteous servant will justify many, and He will bear their iniquities” (Isaiah 53:4-6,11). Why did He have to die? So He could offer eternal life to humanity.
Why did Jesus choose to do this? First, it was His Father’s plan and Jesus always obeyed His Father: “Yet it was the LORD’s will to crush Him and cause Him to suffer, and though the LORD makes His life an offering for sin…” (Isaiah 53:10). Jesus prayed to the Father in the Garden of Gethsemane, “Not my will but Yours be done” (Luke 22:42).
Secondly, because of His great love for us, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:13) “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son.” (John 3:16) “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8).
Why was Jesus resolute about going to Jerusalem? It was our only hope, and He knew that. Jesus knew His going would bring the greatest change that the world would ever see and truly need. When Jesus set His face toward Jerusalem He saw another face. He saw your face struggling with sin, pained by guilt, discouraged by failure, longing for a fresh start. So He set His face to go and invited you to come and see.