This account we read in Mark’s Gospel describes the journey that Jesus began towards Jerusalem. Jesus had spent most of his time in and around Galilee, but at a certain time, he set out for Jerusalem. He and his disciples and usually a large crowd, went from Galilee to Samaria, then through the area called Perea, and then finally on to Judea and Jerusalem. Up until this point, the disciples had enjoyed their time with Jesus, it was good to be walking with the amazing miracle worker. I am sure if they had facebook back then, they would have posted pictures and selfies of their time with him. They were on an emotional high, things were going well, but then the mood shifted. Jesus got serious and began to stride a little more purposefully. Is seems like Jesus changed gears and began to lock in on a goal that was over the horizon.
Luke 12:51 says; “When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem.” Jesus was on a timeline, history was about to change. The creator was about to sacrifice himself for the creation.
Up until this time we see many occasions when Jesus had held back because the timing was not yet right.
The Gospel of John frequently refers to the fact that Jesus was on a timeline. (see, John 7:6, John 7:30 and John 8:20). Jesus was listening to His Father and the schedule was to be kept.
So the time was now, Jesus knew his purpose and he set his face to Jerusalem. In Isaiah 50:7 we see the remarkably accurate picture of Jesus at this moment; “Because the Sovereign Lord helps me, I will not be disgraced. Therefore have I set my face like flint, and I know I will not be put to shame.” Jesus is the one who sets his face like a flint, knowing that he will not be put to shame, knowing that he has a task to perform.
Flint is a very hard sedimentary rock, that when it is hit against steel it produces a spark. The picture of setting one’s face like a flint is focusing on the goal, knowing that you are going to encounter opposition. Taking the adversity and challenges in stride, knowing that there is a bigger purpose and goal. Jesus knew that he was going to Jerusalem to encounter incredible suffering and shame, so he literally steeled himself and with eyes on the horizon, he gritted his teeth and moved forward.
In Mark 10:32 we see one moment they are walking through the hills of Galilee and Samaria, and the next Jesus begins walking out in front. The disciples were “astonished” as they observed Jesus. And the crowd following were “afraid”. The Greek words used here seem to indicate a fear that something bad was about to happen. The disciples who had walked with Jesus for three years, had never seen him like this before. Jesus seemed different, his demeanor had changed, and he became extremely serious and focused.
And the crowd was afraid, they began to fear that something bad was about to happen in Jerusalem. Why was Jesus suddenly so solemn? Suddenly it must have dawned on the crowd, that there was a cost involved in following Jesus – it might cost them their lives.
And today there is a cost involved in following Jesus, and it does involve you losing your life. You have to be prepared to give up everything for him. Dying to ourselves and our own selfish ambitions is the only way to live as a Christian.
The crowd and the disciples were faced with a choice; “am I in or out?” We too are faced with that decision, there is no middle ground – either we follow Jesus to the cross or we may as well turn around and go back home.
But this is not the walk of a man who is walking to his death, it is not the walk of a man who is consigned to the fact that he has to go and suffer a cruel death. Not at all, this was the march of a warrior heading into battle, it was the march of our warrior King about to head into the decisive battle in all of history. Jesus knew that this was his purpose, he was going to destroy death and sin by going to Jerusalem.
When Jesus turned his face like a flint towards Jerusalem, he knew that it meant his death was coming soon. He knew that he was about to have his flesh torn off his back by whips, he knew that he was going to be mocked, spat on, treated shamefully, and then die on the cross, the most cruel form of execution. Jesus also knew that he would face the wrath of God, his father as he paid the price for your sin and mine.
The disciples noticed the shift in the atmosphere, the crowd sensed something big was about to happen, and yet they followed. Some followed out of curiosity, some followed out of love for Jesus, some followed because Jesus had healed them.
Are you following? Have you made a decision to follow Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and savior? Jesus took this journey for you, so that you and I would not have to face an eternity in hell being separated from God. When Jesus began this journey, he was thinking about you.
You may have made a decision to follow Jesus a long time ago, but the distractions and temptations of the world have slowed you down. Jesus calls us to daily take that walk to Jerusalem with him, to walk with purpose and determination. Is your mind set like a flint on following Jesus? Or are you wavering?
Are you following at a distance, not sure if you are going to be able to continue the journey? Maybe the cost seems to be too high. Maybe the challenges and temptations of this world are becoming too strong.
I want to encourage you today to recommit to walking with determination.
“O you redeemed ones, on whose behalf this strong resolve was made—you who have been bought by the precious blood of this steadfast, resolute Redeemer—come and think awhile of Him, that your hearts may burn within you and that your faces may be set like flints to live and die for Him who lived and died for you!”
— C.H. Spurgeon