Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament gospel account of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ as written and recorded by the beloved physician Luke. More specifically, today’s passage begins with the twenty second verse of the thirteenth chapter and continues through to the sixth verse of the fourteenth chapter. When you come to this particular passage of scripture you will find it beginning in a similar fashion as a previous passage found within the gospel of Luke. As you begin reading the words which are found within this section of Luke you will find Jesus coming to the point within His ministry when He would make His journey unto the city of Jerusalem. This passage begins and opens up with the beloved physician describing how Jesus went throughout the towns and villages within the land of Judaea, and how during this circuit of synagogues He sought and desired to go to Jerusalem. While Jesus traveler throughout the towns and villages which were present within the land of Judaea, He taught the people from the scripture and according to the word of God, however, Jesus was intent on journeying toward the city of Jerusalem. In all reality, if you study the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ you will find that while He visited Jerusalem many times throughout His ministry, and perhaps even visited Jerusalem often while growing up—everything about His life and ministry would lead Him to and toward Jerusalem. What so impressed and amazed me about Jesus during and throughout His life and ministry is the incredible focus and determination He possesses and exercised each and every day. In studying the life and ministry of Jesus you will quickly and undeniably come to the conclusion that He did everything deliberately and intentionally, and nothing happened by coincidence or happenstance. During the entire ministry of Jesus the Christ—all three and a half years—He spent every single day traveling and journeying to the various towns and cities throughout Judaea, however, He knew and understood that His journey would ultimately lead to and bring Him to the city of Jerusalem. Jesus knee recognized and understood that His entire life and ministry was destined to bring Him to Jerusalem, for it would be in Jerusalem where Ge would ultimately fulfill the divine plan and purpose of God for His life. It would be within the city of Jerusalem that Jesus would finally come face to face with the ultimate purpose for which Ge had been sent by the Father into the earth. We dare not miss or lose sight of the significance of this reality, for everything Jesus did was to bring Him straight to the city of Jerusalem where He would encounter the ultimate purpose for which the Father had sent Him unto the earth among men.
If you read the gospel which the beloved physician Luke wrote concerning the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ you will find three distinct places within the gospel where Jesus set His face steadfastly to go unto Jerusalem. The passage we find before us today was not the only time within the gospel of Luke where Jesus would set His face to go to THR city of Jerusalem. As you read and study this particular gospel you will find both in the ninth chapter, as well as again later on in the gospel Jesus sought and earnestly desired to go toward the city of Jerusalem. What we find within this passage is essentially one of three different references to Jesus desiring—and evening setting His face to go toward the city of Jerusalem. When reading and studying the life and ministry of Jesus within and throughout the four gospels you will find that eventually there would come a point within the life of Jesus when He knew that His hour had come and that He would return unto the Father. Upon reading the four gospels concerning the life and ministry of Jesus you will notice that there cake a point within and during His ministry when He knew and understood that His time upon the earth was drawing to a close, and that He would return unto the right hand of the Father from whom He had come. With full knowledge of where He came from, and full knowledge of where He was going, Jesus steadfastly set His face like a flint to travel and journey toward Jerusalem, for He knew and understood that the entire purpose for His life and ministry would be found within the city of Jerusalem. What I so love about the life and ministry of Jesus is that He never sought, nor did He ever make any attempt to void the city of Jerusalem. If you read and study the four gospels written concerning the life and ministry of Jesus you will find that there was not a single time when Jesus sought and even desired to avoid the city of Jerusalem. Instead, what you will find is an intense willingness and readiness of Jesus—not only to journey toward Jerusalem, but also to face and accept what awaited Him there within the city. We must understand that Jesus was not ignorant concerning that which would take place within the city of Jerusalem, for He knew that He would be betrayed by one of His own, He knew that He would suffer at the hands of the chief priests, the scribes and the elders of Israel, He knew that He would suffer at the hands of sinners, and He knew that He would ultimately die a cruel and brutal death.
Before I delve any further into that which is written and contained concerning the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ, I feel a great need to journey back to the Old Testament book of genesis. More specifically, I feel it absolutely necessary and imperative that we journey to the twenty-second chapter of this book. It is within this particular chapter where we find the Lord speaking unto Abraham and testing him concerning his only son Isaac. It would be in this chapter we would find the Lord speaking unto Abraham and providing him with very specific instruction concerning his one and only son Isaac. I am thoroughly convinced that this passage must be considered—even if only briefly—for it helps bring us face to face with a steadfast determination to carry out that which the Lord our God has commanded and instructed us. While that which is found in this passage only touches the natural within the life of Abraham, it has direct application to what we find and read concerning Jesus. Beginning with the first verse of the twenty-second chapter of the Old Testament book of Genesis we will find the following account of the life of Abraham, and how the Lord spoke very clearly unto Abraham in order that He might test him concerning his son Isaac whom he loved. Consider if you will the words which are found within this passage beginning with the first verse of the chapter concerning this particular point within the life of Abraham:
“And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am. And He said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of. And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and clave the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went unto the place of which God had told him. Then on the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place afar off. And Abraham said unto his young men, Abide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you. And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, and laid it upon Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife; and they went both of them together. And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said, My father: and he said, Here am I, my son. And he said, Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering? And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together. And they came to the place which God had told him of; and Abraham built an alter there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the al tar upon the wood. And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son. And the angel of the Lord called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham: and he said, Here am I. And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me. And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son. And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovah-jireh: as it is said to this day, In the mount of the Lord it shall be seen. And the angel of the Lord called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time, and said, By myself have I sworn, saith the Lord, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son: that in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice. So Abraham returned unto his young men, and they rose up and went together to Beer-Sheba; and Abraham dwelt at Beer-Sheba” (Genesis 22:1-19).
Now, while on the surface it might not seem like this particular passage has anything to do with that which we find written within the gospels, and that which is found before us within the New Testament gospel of Luke, I would dare suggest that this passage serves as a great background and backdrop for that which we find concerning the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ. Within this passage of Scripture located in the book of Genesis we find the Lord speaking unto Abraham and in testing him, instructed him to go unto a place which He would show him, and there in that place would he offer up his one and only son Isaac as a sacrifice of burnt offering before and unto the Lord. That which is found in this Old Testament book of Genesis is quite remarkable and quite astounding, for within it we find the Lord speaking directly unto Abraham, and instructing Abraham to take his only son Isaac whom he loved, and to sacrifice him upon the altar as a burnt offering. What so amazes me about this passage of Scripture and event within the life of Abraham is not merely that Abraham obeyed the voice of the Lord, and that Abraham was willing to take his son Isaac to the place which the Lord would instruct Him, but he also rose early the very next morning. It is worth noting and pointing out that Abraham neither hesitated, nor did he look for a way out of taking his son Isaac unto the land of Moriah, and unto the place the Lord would show and reveal unto him. Abraham did not look for a way out of obeying the voice of the Lord his God, and instead rose up early to obey the word and voice of the Lord. RISING EARLY IN OBEDIENCE! RISING EARLY TO OBEY! Perhaps one of the greatest questions we must ask ourselves is whether or not we possess the same willingness within our own hearts to rise early in order that we might carry out the divine will of the Lord. The question we must ask ourselves is whether or not we are willing to rise early in order that we might carry out that which the Lord commanded and instructed us. Do we possess the willingness within our hearts to rise early in the morning in order that we might faithfully obey and carry out the will and mind of the Father? Are we willing to rise early from the place of our slumber, and instead of sleeping in and remaining in bed, we instead choose to get up from our bed and carry out that which the Lord our God instructed and commanded us. Do we possess the wherewithal and the fortitude within our hearts and souls to rise early each morning in order that we might obey and carry out the will and mind of the living God? Are we willing to rise early and essentially rush into obedience before the living God? RISING EARLY TO RUSH INTO OBEDIENCE! Are we ready and willing to rise early each morning in order that we might get a head start on obeying the voice and word of the Lord? How we answer this particular question is of the utmost importance, for it can and will directly impact the entire course of our walk and journey with the living God, and with Jesus the Christ.
RISING EARLY TO RUSH INTO OBEDIENCE! Oh, I can’t help but wonder how many times we hesitate when it comes to obeying the voice and word of the Lord. I can’t help but wonder how many times we choose to hesitate and delay our obedience before and unto the living God—perhaps because we really don’t have any desire to do what He has instructed and spoken, or perhaps because that which He has asked and requested of us is much greater and much larger than we could even think or imagine. It’s interesting how Scripture declares that the living God is willing to do exceedingly above anything we could ask or imagine, and yet the question I can’t help but ask myself right now is whether or not we possess the fortitude and the willingness to exceedingly more than anything the Father could ask or imagine. We already know that the living God is willing to do exceedingly abundantly above anything we ourselves could ask and imagine, however, the question that remains to be asked is whether or not we ourselves are willing to do exceedingly above anything the Father could ask or imagine. Permit me to ask you a very pointed and serious question concerning your obedience before the living God, and that is simply whether or not you are willing to obey the voice and word of the Lord regardless of what it might mean for and cost you within your life. Are you willing to rise early in order that you might rush into obedience before the living God? Are you willing to lay yourself down to sleep the night before earlier than you have done before, or perhaps even earlier than you are used to in order that you might rise early the following morning to rush into obedience to the word and will of the living God? How quickly are you willing to rush into obedience to the word and command of the Lord, and how quickly do you normally enter into that which the Lord has spoken unto and instructed you? How many times have you been hesitant in obeying the voice of the Father, and how many times have you sought to delay that obedience because in all reality you had no desire to do that which the Lord your God has instructed and commanded you? What I so love about that which is written concerning Abraham is not only that he rose the next morning to carry out the command and word of the Lord, but he rose early the next morning in order that he might faithfully execute and carry out that which the living God had spoken unto and instructed him. Abraham did not hesitate, nor did he delay in carrying out and obeying the voice and word of the Lord, and he was willing to do anything the Lord had asked, commanded and instructed him—even if it meant sacrificing his son Isaac as a burnt offering upon the altar in the place the Lord would show him.
What we find when we come to the thirteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel of Luke is not only Jesus traveling within and going throughout the cities and villages of Judaea teaching the people, but we also find Jesus journeying toward Jerusalem. Although Jesus would travel throughout the cities, towns and villages of Judaea and Samaria, He recognized and understood that His main objective and main purpose was to journey to Jerusalem in order that there in Jerusalem He might fulfill and carry out that which the Father had spoken. Jesus knew that He was sent to the earth in order that He might make His way toward the city of Jerusalem, for it would be in the city of Jerusalem where He would carry out the perfect will and plan of the Father in heaven. What’s actually quite interesting about what we find in the thirteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel of Luke is not only that Jesus journeyed toward Jerusalem, but also that some of the Pharisees came unto him instructing him to get out and depart from that region, for Herod would kill Him. Please don’t miss the tremendous significance of what these Pharisees were speaking unto Jesus, for in all reality, it’s almost as if their words were in fact a temptation for Jesus—a temptation concerning His mission and the purpose for which he was sent. If you read the words which the Pharisees spoke unto Jesus, you almost get the sense that behind the words they spoke was a veiled temptation of the devil to try and get Jesus to abandon His journey toward Jerusalem. I would dare say that the devil knew and understood that Jesus’ journey toward Jerusalem would bring Him into the place where He would fulfill and obey the will and word of the Father, and the devil sought to do anything and everything he could to try and get Jesus to abandon His purpose and mission—abandon that for which He was sent by the Father. In all reality, I can’t help but be reminded of the words which are found in the fourth chapter of this same New Testament gospel—specifically regarding the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness—for it is within this passage where we find Jesus in the wilderness, and the devil coming unto Him in the wilderness in order that he might tempt him. As you read this fourth chapter you will notice that the first temptation of the devil was around the hunger of Jesus, and whether or not He would turn and command the stones to be turned and made into bread. Scripture reveals that Jesus declared unto the devil how it was written that man should not live by bread alone, but by every word of God. What we find next in the second temptation which the devil brought against Jesus was one that centered upon an alternate route around the cross, and around needing to go unto Jerusalem. In all reality, I am convinced that what we read and find in the fourth chapter of the New Testament gospel of Luke is in fact the beginning of temptations to try and persuade Jesus to abandon His journey toward the city of Jerusalem, and to somehow abandon His willingness to bey the will of the Father. Consider if you will Luke’s account of the second temptation of the devil before Jesus there in the wilderness—a temptation that centered not around turning stones into bread, but rather around abandoning His journey toward the city of Jerusalem, and His carrying out that which the Father had sent Him:
“And the devil, taking Him up into an high mountain, shewed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said unto him, All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it. If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Get thee behind me, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve” (Luke 4:5-8).
The temptation which the devil brought before and against Jesus there in the wilderness was one that would offer Him a path to the kingdoms of the world with all their glory and power. This second temptation which the devil presented unto and before Jesus was essentially an offering of the kingdoms of the world with all their power and authority if only Jesus would worship him. The devil offered Jesus the kingdoms of the world, as well as the glory and power contained therein, if Jesus would only worship him. Please don’t miss the tremendous significance behind this temptation, for that which the devil was doing was trying to bring Jesus to the place where He would abandon His journey to Jerusalem, and to abandon His journey toward the cross. By offering Jesus all the kingdoms of the wold with the power and glory contained therein, the devil was offering Jesus a way to lay hold of a power and authority the Father would give Him through obedience to His word. Pause for a moment and consider this, for this is one of the main ways the devil can and will come against us through temptation, for he will offer and present us with an alternate route to obtaining that which the Father has promised us through obedience and faithfulness by asking us to abandon the course and path the living God has instructed us. The temptation of the devil was incredibly unique because it was essentially a way for Jesus to obtain the glory and power promised Him by the Father, and even the kingdoms of the world without obedience to the will of the Father, and without going to the cross. A PATH AROUND THE CROSS! A PATH AROUND JERUSALEM! PATH AROUND THE ALTAR! What is so incredibly unique about the temptation of the devil there in the wilderness was that it was one that sought to offer Jesus all that was promised unto Him by the Father, yet without the need to journey to Jerusalem, and without the need to go to the cross. How absolutely intriguing this temptation is, for it is a temptation that will not only cause us to forget and abandon our journey to and toward the city of Jerusalem, but it is also a temptation to journey around the cross. This particular temptation of the devil was one that would seek to offer Jesus everything the Father promised Him without the need to suffer, without the need to go to the cross, without the need to be crucified, and without the need to be buried. Oh I can’t help but wonder how many times the devil comes unto us with this same temptation—the temptation to abandon our journey toward Jerusalem, and to abandon our need to take up and carry our cross, and to. Ultimately die upon the cross. The path which the devil offered Jesus there in the wilderness was one that would give him power, authority and glory over the kingdoms of the world if only He would worship Him. We dare not, we cannot, and we must not lose sight of this incredibly important reality, for to do so would be to miss an understanding of how the devil operates within our lives on a daily basis.
If you read the words which are found within the thirteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel of Luke you will not only find Jesus journeying toward Jerusalem, but you will also find Jesus encountering certain of the Pharisees who instructed him to get out from the region surrounding Jerusalem, and to depart from that place, for Herod would kill Him. What adds more weight to their words is the fact that not only had Herod already imprisoned John the Baptist who was Jesus’ cousin, but Herod had ultimately beheaded and killed John there in that prison cell after Herodias’ daughter manipulated her daughter into asking for the head of this prophet. Jesus already knew and was very much aware of the fact that Herod had imprisoned and beheaded John the Baptist, so hearing the Pharisees describe unto Him how Herod would kill him was not something of an idle threat. Now, there is no indication within the gospels that Herod actually sought to kill Jesus, but the very fact that the Pharisees spoke unto Jesus suggesting that Herod would kill Him would have some merit and weight. Undoubtedly Jesus was aware of Herod’s actions with and toward John the Baptist, and how Herod had imprisoned and killed him, however, Jesus was not swayed, nor was He deterred from journeying toward Jerusalem. The words which the Pharisees spoke unto Jesus concerning Herod possibly killing Him are without a doubt an additional temptation of Jesus to abandon His journey to Jerusalem, and even to abandon the path that would lead Him to the cross. If you think about it—if Jesus did not and would not journey toward Jerusalem, it is possible He could have avoided the suffering which He would experience at the hands of the religious leaders, and even the suffering He would experience at the hands of the sinners and Gentiles. If Jesus chose to abandon His journey toward the city of Jerusalem, it is possible that He would have sought to avoid the path that would ultimately lead Him—not only to the cross, but also to suffering. What’s worth noting and mentioning about this is that although Jesus would later stand trial before Herod , Herod would ultimately not be the one who would kill Him. Jesus would stand trial before Herod, however, Herod found no fault with Him, and instructed the religious leaders to bring Jesus unto Pontius Pilate in order that He might stand trial before him instead. Oh, please don’t miss the importance and significance of this, for not only is there no indication in Scripture that Herod sought to kill Jesus, but even when Jesus stood before Herod and stood face to face with Him after being accused by the chief priests, scribes and elders of Israel, Herod found no fault with Jesus. What’s more, is that there is even mention of Herod desiring to see Jesus upon hearing of His fame which was spread throughout the region. Not only did Herod desire to see Jesus at one point during His life and ministry, but He even desired that Jesus would perform some sort of sign and miracle before him in his presence. In all reality, there is absolutely nothing within the gospels that indicates Herod had any intention of killing Jesus, for even when he was urged to kill John the Baptist he was hesitant to do so, for both he and the people regarded him as a prophet.
With all of this being said, there is not a doubt in my mind that the words which the Pharisees spoke unto Jesus was not simply a declaration of Herod’s intention on killing Jesus, but rather a veiled temptation of the devil to try and once more persuade Jesus to avoid journeying to Jerusalem, and to somehow bypass the suffering He would face and experience therein. The words which the Pharisees spoke unto Jesus concerning Herod killing Him were more than just words concerning Herod’s desire to kill Jesus, but actually a temptation to avoid the suffering He would face within the city of Jerusalem, and ultimately the death He would face and experience upon the cross of Calvary. I am reminded of the words which the apostle Paul wrote unto the Ephesian saints when he wrote and declared that we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against rulers of the darkness of this present age, and against spiritual wickedness in high places. With that being said, the words which Jesus experienced and encountered here with the Pharisees was not merely word which were spoken by flesh and blood, but rather words which spoken by unseen forces behind the scenes. As I sit here and read the words which the Pharisees spoke unto Jesus the Christ on this particular occasion, I can’t help but look beyond the words which they spoke and consider the fact that it was once again a temptation to avoid the cross and a temptation to avoid suffering. I can’t help but find the words which the Pharisees spoke unto Jesus on this particular occasion to be a temptation unto Jesus to depart from the area around Jerusalem, and even to avoid Jerusalem at all costs, for it would be in Jerusalem where He would undoubtedly face and experience suffering, and ultimately death. The words which the Pharisees spoke unto Jesus were words which contained within them a veiled temptation of the devil unto Jesus to avoid Jerusalem, and to avoid the suffering that would ultimately take place within the city. What’s worth noting is that not only did Jesus choose not to avoid the city of Jerusalem, but He even set his face steadfast toward the city of Jerusalem, and embraced both the journey toward Jerusalem, as well as everything the journey to Jerusalem would entail and mean for Him. There was absolutely nothing that would and could keep Jesus from journeying unto the city of Jerusalem, and there would be absolutely nothing that would keep Jesus from embracing the suffering, and ultimately the cross and the death that would ultimately ensue as a result. Regardless of how much the devil and the unseen forces of darkness sought to tempt Jesus to avoid Jerusalem and to avoid the cross and the suffering, Jesus would and could not be deterred from making His way to Jerusalem. For Jesus, avoiding Jerusalem would mean more than simply avoiding suffering and death, but would ultimately mean disobedience and rebellion to the word and will of the Father. For Jesus, avoiding and even bypassing Jerusalem would mean a blatant disregard for the word and will of the Father, and a way to avoid both the suffering and the cross. Oh that we would recognize and understand this, for there will be temptations within our lives offering us a path around suffering and a path around the cross, and even promises to give unto us that which should only come as a result of obedience, as a result of suffering, and as a result of taking up our cross and following Jesus. The question we must ask ourselves today is whether or not we possess the willingness within our hearts and minds to fully obey the word and will of the Father, and to resist any and every temptation that would seek to bring us to the place where we avoid the cross and where we avoid suffering. Let us as we read the words within this passage of Scripture decide and determine whether or not we will rise early that we might rush toward obedience, and whether or not we will resist the temptation to avoid Jerusalem in order that we might somehow obtain that which can only come through obedience, suffering, and taking up our cross.