And it came to pass, when the days were well-nigh come that he should be received up, he stedfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem (Luke 9:51).
The time had come.
For over two years Jesus taught His disciples and provided many demonstrations of His power. They now recognized that He was the promised Messiah, the Christ of God (Luke 9:20). He made known to them what was about to take place: He would go to Jerusalem, suffer many things, be rejected, be killed, and on the third day be raised up (Luke 9:22).
It was time to accomplish God’s ultimate purpose, and Jesus did not shrink from it. He set His face to go to Jerusalem, knowing precisely what would take place.
It is evident that Jesus led a life of purpose. How else could He have accomplished as much as He did during His short time on the earth (cf. John 21:25)? He knew the Father’s will (John 6:44-48), and He made it His purpose to accomplish it (John 4:54, John 5:30). He did not shrink from fulfilling that will, even when it was quite difficult and led to extreme suffering (Matthew 26:38-39). He fulfilled His purposes, and was exalted, and given the name that is above every name (Matthew 5:17-18, John 19:30, Philippians 2:5-11).
As Jesus led a life of purpose, He calls those who would follow Him to also lead lives of purpose. While we formerly might have lived according to our own desires, with our own purposes (or a lack thereof) in mind, now we are to live according to His purpose, which is for us to die to self and live to Him (Romans 6:15-22, Galatians 2:20). When Jesus says to go and show mercy, love, and compassion, we find opportunities to show love, mercy, and compassion (Luke 6:36, Ephesians 4:32). When Jesus tells us to no longer sin, and to avoid and abhor sin, we do so (Romans 12:9, Galatians 5:19-21). When Jesus directs us to take up our crosses, denying ourselves, and to follow Him, we must do so (Luke 9:23-26)! If we desire to share in His glory, we must first share in His purposes and sufferings (Romans 8:17-18).
Jesus’ purpose for our lives is not easy. It is difficult, challenging, and calls for much suffering. It would be easier to live an aimless life, as so many others do. The cost would be a lot less in this life if we rejected Jesus and lived according to our own passions and desires. The end of the purposeless or selfish live is death, condemnation, and torment (Romans 6:23, 2 Thessalonians 1:6-9)!
Therefore, just as Jesus set His face toward the earthly Jerusalem, so we must set our face toward the spiritual Jerusalem. Just as Jesus experienced great suffering and trial in order to enter glory, so we will experience suffering and trial to enter glory. It will all be more than worth it in the end, but it will only come for those who have given themselves over to Christ and live for His purposes. Follow Christ’s purpose for you today, set your face toward the heavenly Jerusalem, and be saved!
Ethan R. Longhenry