Luke 9:51–56 (NKJV)
51 Now it came to pass, when the time had come for Him to be received up, that He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem, 52 and sent messengers before His face. And as they went, they entered a village of the Samaritans, to prepare for Him. 53 But they did not receive Him, because His face was set for the journey to Jerusalem. 54 And when His disciples James and John saw this, they said, “Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, just as Elijah did?” 55 But He turned and rebuked them, and said, “You do not know what manner of spirit you are of. 56 For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them.” And they went to another village.
When Jesus entered into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, it was the culmination of intentional planning on his part. From the very beginning of his ministry, Jesus understood that one day He would be called upon to enter into Jerusalem only to be rejected and killed. And it is this fixed purpose of Jesus to die for His people which Luke highlights for us in our text today.
Luke tells us that when the time had come for Jesus to be received up – in other words, when the time had come for Jesus to be crucified, the time when He would be delivered over to the scribes and chief priests, and rejected, and put to death – when that time had arrived, Jesus steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem. He knew that it was impossible that a prophet should die outside Jerusalem – that it was there in that city that the final contest would be waged. And knowing this, He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem.
As they are traveling to Jerusalem, they come into a Samaritan village, but the village rejects Him and refuses to grant him and his disciples shelter. Why? Listen to Luke’s words: But they did not receive Him, because His face was set for the journey to Jerusalem. Jesus is rejected in this village as a foretaste of the destiny that awaits him in Jerusalem. He goes to Jerusalem to suffer and be rejected.
Why? His rebuke of James’ and John’s vindictiveness gives the answer. For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them. Jesus is going to Jerusalem so that He might save men from sin and death, save men and women and children from the ravages of the Evil One. He is going to Jerusalem to give His life a sacrifice for others, to give His life so that the just penalty of the law might be paid by Him so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. Jesus set His face to go to Jerusalem to die.
It is fitting, therefore, on Palm Sunday – this day that we celebrate the entry of our Lord Jesus Christ into Jerusalem – that our color changes to red – for red is the color of blood and it was to shed His blood that Jesus entered into the city. While Jesus was acclaimed today, He knew that this acclamation would not continue and that the end of the story would be bloody. He had set His face to go to Jerusalem.
And so this morning we are reminded that Jesus set His face to go to Jerusalem for our sins – and so let us confess our sins in the Name of Christ and seek the Lord’s forgiveness through the shed blood of Jesus our Savior. As we do so, let us kneel.