Apr 10 2013 - Luke 13:22-14:6 – Pressing on to Jerusalem
Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. Some Pharisees, thinking perhaps that Jesus would make trouble for them in Jerusalem, tried to turn him back by telling him that Herod was out to kill him. But Jesus will not be dissuaded from his course of action; he is intent on the goal set before him (Luke 13:32). So he tells them, "I must press on today and tomorrow and the next day – for surely no prophet can die outside Jerusalem!"
Jesus is fully aware of all that awaits him in Jerusalem, but he will not turn back. This was why he was sent into the world; this is the work that the Father had sent him to accomplish and he will see it through to the end. He will let nothing deflect him from the path marked out for him.
And Jesus calls us to follow hm. This is not the work of a moment; it is to be the preoccupation of a lifetime. We too are to have our eyes fixed upon a goal and to refuse to let anything deflect us from it:
Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy that was set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (Hebrews 12:1-3)
It’s easy to grow weary or to lose heart. We take our eyes off Jesus and fix them on others around us. We turn around to see how others are doing and we begin to question how they are running. That’s how a race is lost.
When some asked Jesus, “Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?”, he answered them, “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to” (Luke 13:24). In other words, our primary concern must be with our own Christian life. We need to ensure that we go on following Jesus, following him closely in the path that leads to life.
This is not to say that the Christian life is basically selfish. Not at all. Jesus would not allow himself to be turned aside from Jerusalem because he was determined to endure the cross for us, with all its pain and shame. It is only as we follow him closely and faithfully that we are useful to others and able to lead them in the path of life.
But what of the question “Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?” Having told us to take care of our own discipleship, Jesus says, “People will come from east and west and north and south, and will take their places at the feast in the kingdom of God. Indeed there are those who are last who will be first, and first who will be last” (13:29-30). There will be a great number there at the last day, gathered from every part of the world all worshiping God and praising the Lord Jesus who gave himself for us.
But there will be surprises on that day. Jesus is doubtless addressing the Jewish leaders when he says some whom they expect to have exalted places at the feast will find themselves at the back of the crowd while some whom they never expected to be there will have prominent places as displays of God’s saving grace. Nevertheless, his words challenge our own prejudices and warn us against passing quick judgments on others.
Lord Jesus, you would not turn aside from the course set out for you by your Father. Enable me to follow you and not turn back. Help me to keep my eyes fixed on you that I may not grow weary and lose heart.