Face Set Upon Jerusalem, Jesus Sends Disciples To Prepare The Way
Even with his face set upon Jerusalem, Jesus must deal with disciples who prefer revenge to grace and mercy. The story unfolds in Chapter 9 of Luke. The Holy Spirit, through the pen of Luke the physician, shares the tale of two angry disciples zealous to destroy a Samaritan village and all the people within. Messengers they were, sent to prepare those along the way for the coming presence of the Savior of mankind, and his followers. But the Samaritans in the village along the way wanted no part of this Jewish Messiah.
The tale opens in this manner:
“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,” (Luke 9:51).
Although not a necessary course of travel, the path through Samaria offered Jesus and his followers a quicker route to Jerusalem. However, when the villagers learned from the disciples that the face of Jesus was set for Jerusalem, they refused to welcome the Christ or his followers.
Now to set face upon Jerusalem implies a deliberate, purposeful and certain plan of action. When scripture says that Jesus “steadfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem,” it brings to mind a clear and distinct image of unwavering dedication, non-conforming goals, and a willingness to march through any and all obstacles. And perhaps this is what motivated the zeal of the disciples.
Can you not see them pondering the Master’s face? Grasping his sense of purpose? Hoping, believing and wanting this march to lead into the glorious victory march over Rome and all other nations that would stand against the will of all mighty God?
Reading Between The Lines
The written words of the Spirit leave off any explanation of how the Samaritans gained knowledge of the determined purposes of Jesus. Yet due to the nature of men and the sin that does so easily beset each and every one of us, we can effortlessly construe an image of the disciples entering the village, voices raised, proudly proclaiming that Jesus was coming with face set upon Jerusalem. You see: These are proud men, and like us sometimes arrogant of having been chosen as though it is somehow due to their goodness or unique right to be a servant of God. They are certain that Jesus is the King who will soon liberate the “chosen nation” from the subjugation of the Roman Empire. And now, they sense a closing, a victory, and a certain restoration of Jewish authority. They are keyed up, perhaps even conceited. To them, the time of victory was near.
As spiritual leaders and men with Christian character, we must be cautious when adding any form of unrecorded clarification to Scripture. Yet I now speak with a reasonable sense of certainty. I believe that the messengers Christ sent into that Samaritan village went in loud, boisterous, jabbing fingers at unbelievers, and perhaps even voicing words of battle, destruction and conquering of nations. This is, after all, the nature of mankind.
Human nature leads to jumps in conclusions, words of confusion, and a chattering boast in matters that we do not understand. From the words I hear in my spirit, I see the disciples inventing a purpose that they draft into their personal image of God’s plan. Perhaps they enter the village barking orders rather than making petitions for acceptance. Perhaps they rare back like officious politicians. “Make way,” they may have shouted. “He is here, and his face is set upon Jerusalem. Make a place. Prepare a path. Jesus of Nazareth is coming through.”
Image a Frustrated and Angry Group of Villagers Who Have No Need of Jews
Imagine, if you will, the aggravation that must have accumulated within the village people. See them as one by one they take exception to and then outright reject the demands spoken by the messengers “of grace.”
And then see the disciples, the expected results thwarted. Their forward battle plans unceremoniously cast aside by these arrogant Samaritans. Feel the sting of rejection and disdain. And rather than falling back into their proper place, the following words spew from angry lips:
“And when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, even as Elijah did,” (Luke 9:54).
Wow! Did such anger and wrath, thoughts of revenge, surface due to the zealous love of Christ, or was it merely two men angry for the sake of personal pride? I believe Scripture gives clear understanding. Just as you and I are prone to erupt in anger when a lost world rejects our message, James and John reacted as though the rejection was personal to them alone. Thus evidence that their message to the people in the Samaritan village was a message without love.
See here the response that came from the Man who had set His face upon Jerusalem:
“But he turned, and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them. And they went to another village,” (Luke 9:55, 56).
My dear Christian brothers and sisters: We must discover the importance of letting the lost experience another day. Too often, we quarrel, reject and seek to destroy those who will not receive the glory of our message. We let Kingdom work become personal labor rather than Holy Spirit instructions.
His Face Set Unto Jerusalem
Jesus had His face set to go to Jerusalem. His thoughts were higher than the disciples could conceive. And although the ignorance and resistance of the Samaritans could not deter His primary goal, love remained his ultimate purpose upon this planet. There will come an hour when Jesus will judge this world and those who have rejected his love and his redemption plan. But for the moment, let his message be salvation rather than brutal retribution.
Listen to me, you who would change the world by physical force and governmental rule: you too should set your face to go to Jerusalem. Learn to live in grace, and to dispense grace, for without such mercy you are not fit for use as a soul winner.
Strive to win the lost – not with words of man’s wisdom and not with violence. Rather let love, compassion, and self-sacrifice fill you to limits of bursting, and then your message will breathe life rather than death.