Teaching Sermons For Pastors and Laymen

  Written 5/7/03

Title: Going to Jerusalem

Text: “Now it came to pass, when the time had come for Him to be received up, that He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem” (Luke 9:51).

Scripture Reading: Luke 9:22-27, 51

 

Introduction

Each year thousands of pilgrims make their way to Israel and the holy city of Jerusalem.  For many, it fulfills a lifetime dream if they can say, “I walked where Jesus walked.”  A journey to Jerusalem can be a rewarding travel experience, especially for Christians. 

Today we will begin a spiritual journey to Jerusalem, walking with Jesus through those critical hours surrounding His crucifixion and resurrection.  We will carefully observe the individuals we meet along the journey. 

For several Sundays we will speak about Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem and ultimately to the cross.  In chapters 9-20 of his gospel, Luke mentions Jesus’ movement toward Jerusalem several times. Luke uses this repetition to signal a decisive turn in Jesus’ ministry. 

Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem is what gives meaning to Calvary.  When Jesus set His face toward Jerusalem nothing would deter Him from what He had to do.  He knew everything that awaited Him there, but He went anyway.  He went willingly to the cross and to the tomb; then he rose from the dead and for forty days He was seen by the faithful before He ascended back to heaven where He took His seat at the right hand of the Father.

Listen as I read our scriptures for today; Luke 9:22-27.

“The Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day.”  Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.  For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it.  For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost?  For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him the Son of Man will be ashamed when He comes in His own glory, and in His Father’s, and of the holy angels.  But I tell you truly, there are some standing here who shall not taste death till they see the kingdom of God.”

And here is our text for today; verse 51: “Now it came to pass, when the time had come for Him to be received up, that He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem” (Luke 9:51).

Today, we are going to study why Jesus made the journey to Jerusalem.  We shall see first that it was an act of courage, because it was a hot spot.  He went because His life is an example for us. Second, it was a commitment to God’s will.  He was doing the Father’s will; His life would be a willing offering that would redeem mankind.  And then the third point is that He would lose His life to find life.  He said that we must take up the cross and follow Him; we must do God’s will and give our lives to Him.  As we take this journey, through what we are told in the Bible, we will listen to what Jesus taught His disciples along the way. 

Note first of all, that when Jesus went to Jerusalem, it was an act of courage.

Jerusalem was a hot spot, as far as Jesus was concerned.  He avoided it except for the feast days, because that is where his enemies were.  Jerusalem was the center of Jewish life and religion.  As such, it was the center of growing animosity to this itinerant Nazarene.  Jesus’ decision to “set out for Jerusalem” was a deliberate choice to enter the storm.  Jesus demonstrated true courage. 

On an earlier occasion when Jesus announced His intention to go to Bethany to the home of Lazarus, the disciples warned Him, “Rabbi, lately the Jews sought to stone You, and are You going there again?”  Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world” (John 11:8-9). 

The city of Bethany was less than two miles from Jerusalem, so He would be entering the danger zone.  Don’t miss the word “again.”  His disciples warned, “Rabbi, lately the Jews sought to stone You, and are You going there AGAIN?”  He had been there earlier and had been forced to withdraw.  But now He returns, and He takes His disciples with Him. 

He said that there are twelve hours in the day, and you can’t change that.  Because the Father has given the Son work to do, nothing can stop Him.  There is a great principle here.  God has given to each man a lifework.  You can’t extend that for one day any more than you can keep the sun from going down in the afternoon.  But, thank God, you are absolutely invincible until your work is done.  Nobody, not even Satan, can hinder God’s purpose in your life if you are following Him.  To fail to follow Him is dangerous.  However, you can go into the danger zone with him and you will not be touched.  You will finish your work. 

He knew what He was facing.  Jesus’ journey was not the irresponsible action of a blind fanatic.  He knew the risks but met them with courage.  And as far as we are concerned, Christian commitment does not shrink from involvement in the hot spot.

Jesus is our example.  Jesus is the continuing example and inspiration for us to face life and its difficulty with courage. 

The writer to the Hebrews had this to say: “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:1-2). 

The writer compared the Christian life to a long distance race.  The runners, who are believers, find themselves surrounded by a great “cloud of witnesses,” who are the heroes of faithfulness.  These witnesses are not heavenly spectators who observe the conduct of Christians, but they are those whose testimony is the life they lived.  Christians can run the race of life well, only by laying aside any impediment that hinders them from putting forward their best effort.  It is sin that is the greatest hindrance, especially the sin of unbelief, which will eventually cripple the believer. 

A distance race requires endurance, persistence, and sustained effort; it is not a short sprint. Jesus Christ is the supreme example of endurance.  He is the finisher and perfecter in the sense that apart from Him we can do nothing. 

Even though He was crucified in a very shameful way, He remained faithful because of “the joy that was set before Him.”  As a result of His faithful obedience, Jesus Christ is now seated at the “right hand of the throne of God.”  And believers who follow His example will also have a reward.

The next thing to notice is that Jesus had a commitment to God’s will.

His life work was doing the Father’s will.  The journey to Jerusalem was part of Jesus’ desire to do the Father’s will.  At the age of twelve He expressed this desire: “Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?” (Luke 2:49).  That’s what He told Mary and Joseph when they found Him setting with the teachers in the temple.  Note that if Joseph had been His father, He would have been trying to get some carpentry work there in Jerusalem.  But His father was not Joseph; He was speaking of the business of His Heavenly Father. 

His prayer in the garden summarized His entire life: “not My will, but Yours, be done” (Luke 22:42).  When Jesus said this He was only hours away from the cross.  He had asked the Father to remove the cup from Him, and I believe that the cup was that He was made sin for us. 

He is the Holy One of God.  When my sin was put upon Him, It was repulsive.  I don’t know why we think we are so attractive to God.  My sin put upon Christ was repulsive and awful.  It was terrible and for a moment he rebelled against it.  But the Lord had come to do the Father’s will, so He could say, “not My will, but Yours, be done.”  He committed Himself to His Father’s will, although bearing your sin and mine was so repulsive to Him. 

Dwight L. Moody once heard a preacher declare the world had yet to see what God could do with a person completely dedicated to His will. Moody determined to be such a person, and the world felt his impact.  What could be done through us if we had a similar commitment to do God’s will?  The journey that Jesus took was the Father’s will, but by taking the journey He was a willing offering. 

Some view the will of God as Him forcing His will on us.  But God did not coerce Jesus to die on the cross.  The message that Jesus spoke and His nature made the journey inevitable. 

Sin and holiness conflict; holy people have a hard time in this world.  Jesus knew this but He still remained willing to give Himself.  He said, “Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again.  No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father” (John 10:17-18). 

Christ became our sin offering.  He voluntarily offered himself for our sins to free us from sin and death.  He says that all of this is the will of the Father.  The Father loves Him because He died for us.  We also ought to love Him because He died for us.  He made Himself an offering for sin.  On the cross, during those three hours of darkness, God the Father put upon Him the sin of the world, and He went through hell for you and me.  The Good Shepherd gave His life for the sheep. 

The writer of Hebrews explains, “(Christ) said, ‘Behold, I have come to do Your will, O God.’…”  "(And) By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Hebrews 10:9-10). 

Here is one of the most beautiful pictures in all of scripture.  The Lord Jesus came to this earth, grew to manhood, and at thirty years of age He begins His earthly ministry.  When He came to the end of that ministry He could say, “Which of you convicteth Me of sin?” because He never sinned.  He was holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners.  He could have stepped off this earth any day He wanted to, gone back to heaven and left this world in sin; left you and me living in slavery to sin.  But He loved us, and God so loved us that He gave His only begotten Son. 

And think about this precious thought.  Jesus was given a body; but why was that?  It was for death, so He could die on a cross.  “By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” 

Are you a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ?  If you can answer “Yes!”, then you need to know this—He has been given the body of believers, we call the church, for His bride.  In His prayer in John 17 He said, “They are mine.  You gave them to Me.” 

Jesus made the Journey to Jerusalem, because He loves us; He paid the price for us.

The last thing to notice is that Jesus would lose life to find life.

Jesus said that we are to take up the cross.  Christ’s offering brought life. 

In order to possess that life, we must offer our lives.  At Easter time, we celebrate the event that culminated Christ’s journey to Jerusalem.  Do not forget that the crucifixion preceded the resurrection.  The discovery of life comes in the loss of life.  We must do God’s will and give our lives.  Jesus said, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.” 

There can be no life without that courageous decision to commit to Christ.  “Following Jesus” is the definition of “commitment.” Commitment demands a choice. Jesus wasted no time getting to the heart of commitment: either the disciples would be committed to Him and deny their own desires, or they would be determined to go their own ways and deny Him. The choice to commit is the same for all believers—either we deny ourselves or deny Him; either we go His way, or we pursue our way. 

Talking about Christ would be meaningless without the walk with Him. The disciples were to take up their crosses. Jesus challenged them to put themselves voluntarily under God’s authority, doing His will His way. Commitment demands action; it cannot be divorced from responsibility.  It extends beyond our relationship to the heavenly Father to other areas of life.

Ruth’s words of commitment to Naomi did not speak as loudly as did her actions. She left her family and homeland to return with Naomi to Bethlehem.  Commitment definitely limits choices because it is exclusive. For example, in a commitment to marriage, God’s plan is for one woman and one man to commit to each other exclusively and permanently. 

Jesus demonstrated in the Garden of Gethsemane that the Father’s will always takes precedence over His. The next day, He picked up His cross, demonstrating that He would do the Father’s will the Father’s way.  Commitment builds up your faith and develops your character. It is a spiritual discipline. It is a lifetime venture, requiring time, work, and determination.

As Jesus made His way to Jerusalem, He taught His disciples along the way.  For the disciples it was a time of spiritual preparation, renewal and dedication.  On His way to Jerusalem Christ tried to lead the disciples into God’s will and to enable them to give themselves to Him.  The Master Teacher taught crucial lessons about values and motives.

Conclusion

Will you join me on a journey to know God’s will and to do it?  Will you make the commitment to follow Jesus wherever He leads, even into the hottest spot?  Set your face toward Jerusalem, remembering the words of Him who has gone before you: “Whoever would save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.”

For the next few weeks we are going to study those people who were part of Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem; Peter, Simon of Cyrene, and Mary Magdalene. We will examine Jesus’ determination to face crucifixion, so that He can reveal God’s love for sinners.

Amen.

 

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