When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. (Luke 9:51 ESV)
The latter half of Luke 9 seems filled with Jesus’ disciples failing to pick up what their Master was laying down. He says, “I’m going to be killed and rise on the third day.” Peter rebukes Him (in other Gospels, Luke leaves that out). He didn’t get it. They argue over who’s the greatest. Jesus brings out a child to show as an example of greatness. So John says they hindered someone working miracles in Jesus’ name. They didn’t get it. Samaritans won’t provide hospitality to Jesus on His way to Jerusalem. James and John offer to call down fire from heaven on them. They don’t get it.
Luke has an odd sentence that really doesn’t fit grammatically with the rest of what’s going on. As the time for the day of His ascension approached, Jesus sets His face toward Jerusalem. From here on in Luke, Jesus is headed toward His passion and resurrection. This is the beginning of the end. If the disciples couldn’t understand what Jesus was saying at this point, it’s impossible to even imagine they understood the importance of this change.
But they did eventually. Luke has this material to write to his audiences because they got it eventually. Matthew and Mark point out a similar truth. They would eventually get it. The story wasn’t lost because of their ignorance and failure to understand. This wasn’t the “final exam”, it was a daily quiz. This is one of those things about the disciples that gives me great hope. The difference between the disciples on the road to Jerusalem, and the disciples after the ascension is really the Holy Spirit. So, the difficulties I face in understanding my Master have the same solution; His Spirit.
I have a history of missing things, still miss things, and will miss things as I read Scripture. That’s basically why I developed a theology dependent upon the points of view of others (knothole theology). But I can be confident that the Spirit of my Master helps me. He comes alongside me and illuminates my heart and mind. So, it’s like having the author of a book help me understand it. It’s cool. But it’s not complete. It’s not my fault, it’s His choice. He chooses to use others to widen my understanding of what He’s inspired to be written. I used to have a problem with that. Now I understand better that it’s all part of “church” as He sees it. It’s a design feature not a design flaw.
So, while they missed that Jesus had set His face toward suffering, death, resurrection, and His ascension; they got it eventually. So will I. I will miss important things in what I read, but I am confident that the Spirit of my Master will help me understand on down the road. He’ll probably use you. Of course if you keep it to yourself…well, I won’t call you a selfish pig, not to your face. But what would you call someone happily letting me run on without filling in the blanks in my ignorance? I suppose it could be entertaining. By the way, you have a piece of breakfast stuck in your teeth…I could have let you just walk around all day like that. But I’m not like that. What are you like? What’s your view through the knothole?
It’s crazy how we can read the same Scripture over and over and yet one day this whole new meaning is revealed that we’ve never understood before! Over the course of humanity’s existance, we are still discovering who God is.
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Yes! Crazy is right. But I think it requires a certain sort of insanity to even begin to appreciate our Creator. At least I hope He wouldn’t make sense to our limited ability to reason.
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