Written by Fr. Dale Minor - The Reclaim Ministry
“Now it came to pass, when the time had come for Him (Jesus) to be received up, that He steadfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem,...” (Luke 9:51)
We are in the fifth week of Lent, looking toward Palm Sunday and our celebration of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. So, my thoughts are drawn to the activities of Jesus and his disciples as they began their journey to Jerusalem. However, as I read through the Gospels, it doesn’t take long before I realize that his wasn’t a headlong rush to the Holy City. Indeed, it won’t be until ten chapters later that Luke tells us about Jesus’ trek from Bethphage to Jerusalem riding on the back of a donkey while being hailed as King of the Jews. And a lot will have happened in the meantime.
We can’t herein provide detail of everything that Jesus did, but just to provide a sense of where Jesus went during this time, let’s try to track his movements a bit. First of all, it can be argued that this journey began at the Mount of Transfiguration. (Luke 9:28) It was there that Jesus was observed in the presence of Moses and Elijah and was transfigured into the fullness of the glory of God. And in Luke 9:31 it says that these Old Testament prophets “spoke of His decease which He was about to accomplish in Jerusalem.” A clear reference to His trial and its result.
Now the Mount of Transfiguration is some 120 miles north of Jerusalem. Even by the most direct route, and with a purposeful walk, it would take at least 15 days to make the journey. But the Gospels also testify that Jesus didn’t take the direct route. In fact, even as He had his eyes, (and his heart) set on Jerusalem, He remained first and foremost about completing the mission His Father has set for Him. And following the chronology of the sum of the gospels we can assume that He spent as long as six months getting from The Mount of Transfiguration to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives. We can track his movement from The Mountain back to Galilee where he spent quite a bit of time in and around Capernaum. From there He went to Jerusalem for the Feast of Tabernacles before moving out into the Judean countryside and visiting friends in Bethany. Then we find him ministering in Perea, on the opposite side of the Sea of Galilee, before finally returning to Bethany and Bethphage to prepare for His final entrance into Jerusalem.
Does all this moving about indicate that Jesus had lost his focus on Jerusalem, that He had forgotten what He heard on the Mount of Transfiguration and of the Father’s direction to head for Jerusalem? Not in the least. If anything, Jesus was even more aware of His mission and the timing of it. Perhaps He felt a new sense of urgency as He prepared His disciples for the trials and persecution they would have to endure. At the same time, He needed to prepare them to carry on the work they would be called to do in His name, and He was very aware of the schedule that had been laid out for Him, -- that He be in Jerusalem for the Feast of the Passover. The place and the timing of Christ’s Passion would be critical for powerfully demonstrating how Jesus, the Son of God, was our Passover Lamb, being sacrificed that we might live. They, and we, needed to see and understand how this was necessary to fulfill all the Law and the Prophets as He had said was His purpose.
But all this is more than just a call to reflect upon some details of Jesus’ Galilean ministry. It is a call for us to consider our own walks with Him. Perhaps some of you have received a direction from the Lord by way of the Holy Spirit and set your eyes on the journey with anticipation of its completion, only to discover that there were a few stops to be made along the way? Perhaps you have, or will find yourself on a side trail, even a reversal of direction for a season, before one day arriving at the place to which He has been calling you all along.
The Lord is steadfast. He is also kind and considerate of matters in our lives, those things which are important to us. But if we too, remain steadfast in our trust of Him, we will arrive at the end of our journey precisely when and where He wants us to be.