In Luke 9, we read that Jesus had been travelling around Galilee and the surrounding area, carrying out his ministry to preach the gospel, to bring the good news of salvation, and to heal the sick. His ministry was directed to the Jews, rather than the Gentiles, although he healed the daughter of the Canaanite woman when she pleaded with him that everyone was precious in God’s sight. There has been a pattern of Jesus’ ministry, of releasing all who responded to him from their burdens of sin as they saw in Him the light of God.
In each of the synoptic gospels, Matthew, Mark and Luke, we find this turning point as Jesus directs his travels in one direction, expressed most clearly in Luke’s Gospel, where Jesus turns his face resolutely towards Jerusalem. Whilst Jesus had a clear vision of his way ahead, his disciples were confused and could not understand his determination in the face of apparent rejection by the Samaritans in the village where he had expected to stay. Maybe this rejection was a way of showing the disciples what following Jesus would really mean in their lives, mirroring in a small way how Jesus would be rejected by the crowds supporting Pilate in Jerusalem, and be killed because men could not understand that their petty power was insignificant in the face of the power of God, through which Jesus saves us all from our sins.
Jesus moved towards Jerusalem in that power of God which enabled him to face the challenges ahead of Him, with the arrest, mocking, trial and cruel crucifixion. It wasn’t easy for him, he asked his disciples to pray for him just before his arrest – the Son of God asking his friends to pray for him, not the other way round this time! Jesus was as human as he was divine, and he understands our humanity and how we need prayer and support from our friends, as well as that same power from God to help us face the challenges of our lives as we live as Christians in an increasingly material and secular society.
That power from God is freely available to us when we ask – and Jesus continues to pray for us from his throne in heaven. We have all the spiritual support we need, and God provides for us, just as he provided for Jesus in his hour of need, when Jesus handed his mother into the care of his close disciple John, when Joseph of Arimathea came forward to give a respectful burial for Jesus’ body, when Peter took on the birthing of the new church when Jesus called him after his resurrection.
- God provides – in every respect.
- Jesus cares for us – and pleads on our behalf in heaven.
- The Holy Spirit fills us and sustains us for the work God calls us to do.
With these promises assured to us, we can take up the call of the writer of the letter to the Hebrews, ‘to run with perseverance the race that is set before us‘ (12:2), following the example of Jesus. So let us focus our trust in God so we can set our face towards God’s call on our lives, whatever that maybe, and move forward in His power.