Jesus Was Determined
By Lance Mosher
Imagine the inner torment Jesus faced as His hour of sacrifice approached. There was a time in His ministry when He began warning His closest friends, “saying, ‘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 up on the third day’” (Luke 9:22). Take the time to read what Jesus suffered when all of this came true (Luke 23). Do you think you could stay focused on your task, if you knew such details awaited you?
Soon after Jesus explained to His disciples what was waiting for Him in Jerusalem, Luke tells us, “When the days were approaching for His ascension, He was determined to go to Jerusalem” (Luke 9:51). While some translations offer the word “determined” here, the literal translation is that Jesus “set His face toward Jerusalem.” While setting His face toward His task and torture, Jesus tells a prospective disciple, “No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62). In one context, Jesus both exemplifies and demands determination and total commitment.
And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it. For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses or forfeits himself? For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when He comes in His glory, and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.
For those who have made the commitment to follow Jesus, we know that He calls for each of us to bear our cross daily. That is, we are to live crucified lives. We no longer live. Christ lives in us (Gal. 2:20). We have died to sin, and He has raised us to walk new lives (Rom. 6:1-7). But how does this work practically? It is easy enough to talk (or write) about, but when Satan is tempting us to look back, and our past lives seem so much smoother, what can keep our face “set toward Jerusalem”?
1. SET YOUR FACE TOWARD JESUS
As we have seen, Jesus sets the example by setting His face toward His sacrifice. But it was not always easy. On one occasion, Jesus agonized over His task so much that the Scriptures tell us, “And being in agony He was praying very fervently; and His sweat became like drops of blood” (Luke 22:44).
When we are tempted, when we are downtrodden, when we suffer, we are instructed:
Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
Not only is Jesus our example, but He is also the one to help in time of need. Set your face toward Jesus.
2. SET YOUR FACE TOWARD HEAVEN
If you are truly following Jesus’ example, you will find yourself in prayer a lot. Some people treat prayer as a last resort. Sometimes, Jesus treated prayer as the only reasonable option. What was He doing while agonizing, while His sweat became as blood? He was “praying very fervently.” Jesus’ communication with the Father kept Him going, kept His commitment in check, every step of the way. Read through the gospels and watch Jesus value prayer over food, sleep, and comfort.
Jesus spoke these things; and lifting up His eyes to heaven, He said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify Your Son, that the Son may glorify You.
Set your face toward heaven.
3. SET YOUR FACE TOWARD (NEW) JERUSALEM
The Hebrews author explains that one of the things that kept Jesus committed to His task was “the joy set before Him.” Considering this, He “endured the cross” (Hebrews 12:2). Jesus was able to look beyond the suffering and see the outcome, which was our salvation and His glory. While writing to Christians who were tempted to give up in the midst of horrible persecution, the Holy Spirit inspired John to end His encouragement of determination with a picture of the outcome.
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.”
There is joy set before us. Do we have the eyesight to see past the difficulty? When Jesus accomplished His task, He was able to say, “It is finished” (John 19:30). We, too, will be able to say that, so long as we set our faces toward Jesus as example, heaven in prayer, and new Jerusalem as our goal.
Except where noted, Scripture quotations are taken from the NASB. Copyright by The Lockman Foundation