Holy Week Devotionals Day One:
Jesus Sets His Face Toward Jerusalem
When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. And he sent messengers ahead of him, who went and entered a village of the Samaritans, to make preparations for him. But the people did not receive him, because his face was set toward Jerusalem.
To set his face towards Jerusalem meant something very different for Jesus than it did for his disciples. Their minds danced with visions of grandeur; Jerusalem and glory were just around the corner. How amazing would it be when Jesus cast off Roman oppression and took the throne! You see, in their minds, he was going to Jerusalem to cleanse the holy city of Gentile rule and reestablish the Kingdom of Israel as its new king.
But Jesus had another vision in his head. Here’s what Jerusalem meant for Jesus: “I must go on my way today and tomorrow and the day following, for it cannot be that a prophet should perish away from Jerusalem” (Luke 13:33). Jerusalem meant one thing for Jesus: certain death.
With every step that he took toward Jerusalem, the words of the prophet Isaiah from nearly 700 years earlier rang in his ears, “he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:5-6).
When Jesus set his face to go to Jerusalem, he set his face to die in our place.
If we were to look at Jesus’s death merely as a result of Judas’ deceit, the Pharisees’ plot, and the soldiers’ nails and spear, it might seem very involuntary. And the benefit of salvation that comes to us who believe might be viewed as God’s way of turning a bad situation good. But Luke 9:51 makes all such thoughts vanish.
Jesus did not find himself accidentally entangled in the plot of jealous men. And the saving benefits of his death for sinners were not an afterthought. God, in his infinite love and mercy for sinners like you and me, planned it all and appointed a time.
Jesus, who is the literal embodiment of the Father’s love for sinners, saw that the time had come and set his face to fulfill his mission: to die in Jerusalem for our sake.
As we enter into this year’s holy week, pray that God would focus your mind on the love that Jesus has shown to sinners like us. Thank him for his mercy and grace. Ask that, through the sanctifying power of the Holy Spirit, you would never become numb to the sacrifice of Christ on your behalf.
Also, as we focus this week on what Jesus has done to bring salvation to his people, take this opportunity each day to pray for someone who does not know the Lord and ask God for opportunities for you to share the gospel with them.