Chapter 61

 

“When the Time was Come”

 

“And it came to pass, when the time was come that he should be received up, he stedfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem, And sent messengers before his face: and they went, and entered into a village of the Samaritans, to make ready for him. And they did not receive him, because his face was as though he would go to Jerusalem. And when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did? But he turned, and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them. And they went to another village.” (Luke 9:51-56)

 

      From old eternity the Son of God determined to save his people by the sacrifice of himself; and nothing could keep him from the accomplishment of his determined purpose. Having pledged himself as our Surety in the covenant of grace, he never went back on his word, or even thought about doing so (Proverbs 8:23-32). Though we fell in the garden, through the sin and fall of our father Adam, our Lord’s purpose never changed. At last the appointed time came; and the Son of God assumed our nature that he might die in our stead upon the cursed tree (Romans 5:6-8; Galatians 4:4-6). He had a baptism to be baptized with. He had a cup to drink. With ardent desire, he longed to eat the last passover supper with his disciples. Now, his hour had come. Now, in due time, when the fulness of time was come, Luke tells us — “It came to pass, when the time was come that he should be received up, he steadfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem

 

            He had set his face like a flint upon the accomplishment of the great work he had undertaken for us and refused to be hindered. With the Son of God, there was no turning back. Though there were none to help and many who tried to hinder him, he would not be deterred from his great work.

 

A Ready Substitute

 

            Because of his great love for us, the Son of God went to Calvary to die as our Substitute willingly (v. 51). Our great Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ came into this world resolutely determined to fulfill his covenant engagements as our Surety. Never once did he flinch. When his hour came, “he stedfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem.

 

            There was a time fixed in the purpose of God from eternity for the sufferings and death of our Redeemer. He knew the hour appointed. He knew his time was at hand. He never paused, never hesitated, never flinched from his purpose. He never thought about hiding from his enemies or saving himself. He had come to save others. Himself he could not and would not save.

 

            When he saw the hour approaching, he looked through his death and sufferings and looked beyond them, to the glory that should follow. The Lord Jesus knew what his reward would be. He knew that soon he would be received up into glory (1 Timothy 3:16), received up into the highest heavens, to be enthroned as Zion’s King. Moses and Elias spoke of his death as his departure out of this world, as the decease he would accomplish at Jerusalem. The Master himself looked upon it as a thing to be desired. Why? — By his death, he would save his people. — By his death, he would glorify his Father. — And by his death, he would be translated into a better world, a better life, in better company.

 

      May God give us grace to look upon death as a desirable thing, not a thing to be dreaded and feared. If we are Christ’s, death should be looked upon as a welcome friend. Soon we shall be “received up,” to be with Christ where he is (John 14:1-3; 2 Corinthians 5:1-9; Philippians 1:21-23).

 

            Knowing that the hour had come, anticipating the joy set before him, the Lord Jesus steadfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem the place where he was to suffer and die. He was fully determined to go, and would not be dissuaded. He went directly to Jerusalem, because there his business lay. There he must lay down his life for his sheep. Courageously and cheerfully, he went to Jerusalem to die for us.

 

Yes, he knew all that would befall him there. But he had a mission to accomplish. He did not fail; neither was he discouraged; but set his face as a flint, knowing that he should be not only justified, but glorified too by the redemption he would accomplish there as our Substitute (Isaiah 50:7).

 

How should this shame us for, and shame us out of, our reluctance and backwardness to do anything for him, suffer anything for his sake, or bear any reproach for him! How can we draw back and turn from him and his service who steadfastly set his face against all opposition, to go through and finish the great work of obtaining eternal redemption for us by the sacrifice of himself at Jerusalem?

 

            Let us ever give thanks to God our Savior for his willingness to suffer for us and save us!

The Lord Jesus knew full well all that awaited him at Jerusalem. — The Betrayal! — The Mock Trial! — The Mockery! — The Crown of Thorns! — The Spit! — The Spear! — The Agony! — Yet, he never flinched! His heart, set upon us from eternity, drove him as it were, to the torment of divine wrath and judgment. His love for us caused him to hasten to his torment, that he might redeem us from the wrath of God. It was the desire of his soul to die in our place at Jerusalem!

 

“Amazing love! How can it be?

That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me!”

 

            In the light of these things, who could ever question the willingness of God to save sinners? Jesus Christ is an able, ready, willing Savior! He who was ready to suffer at Jerusalem is ready to save today! Nowhere is it written that he is unwilling. Everywhere it is written that he is willing to save!

 

            May God give us grace to follow our Lord’s example. Like my Master, I pray that God will give me grace to spend my life for him who spent his life for me. Let me be ready and willing to go anywhere for Christ, do anything for Christ, endure anything for Christ. When his will is known, my duty is clear. Let my face be set steadfastly, for the glory of God.

 

The Samaritans’ Great Loss

 

            There was a village of Samaritans who allowed racial prejudice to rob them of eternal blessedness (vv. 52-53). If you want to see the origins of the racial strife between the Samaritans and the Jews, you can read about it in 2 Kings 17 and Ezra 4. But whatever the origin, racial prejudice is a horrible evil and often is the cause of even greater evil. These unnamed Samaritans would not receive the Lord Jesus because he was evidently determined to go to Jerusalem, and the Jews had no dealings with the Samaritans.

 

            What a sad picture this is of man’s obstinate unbelief! The Lord Jesus sends his messengers. By the gospel we preach, we make ready for him, preparing the way of the Lord. Yet, multitudes, the vast majority, like these Samaritans, find a reason not to receive him.

 

Angry Apostles

 

            James and John were enraged by the behavior of these Samaritans who so ill-treated the Master. — "And when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did?" (v. 54) They were in a tizzy! They said, "Lord, give us leave to do so and we will command fire to come down from heaven and burn them to ashes. We will make them like Sodom!’’

 

            Much could and should be said about this. James and John were zealous, but wrong. They used the Scripture, but did so rashly. They cited the prophets, but cited them in an manner never intended. Let me just say this: Zeal without knowledge is a dangerous thing. It is an army without a general, a ship without a rudder. Multitudes have done great harm in the kingdom of God, with true zeal for the honor of Christ, but zeal that refused direction. — Be warned!

 

            The Lord Jesus sternly rebuked James and John for their suggestion and thereby sternly rebukes the spirit of persecution. — "But he turned, and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of." (v. 55). The reproof he gave to James and John for their fiery, furious zeal is highly instructive. Human religion often seeks to establish itself by the sword or by legislation. The church and kingdom of God has other weapon (2 Corinthians 10:4). The only weapons God’s church ever uses or seeks to use, the only weapons by which God is honored, in opposing evil and in overthrowing false religion is prayer and preaching. Godliness cannot be legislated, faith cannot be forced and righteousness cannot be established by the laws of men, by political might, or by the sword of war.

 

Our Master’s Mission

 

            "For the Son of man is not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them. And they went to another village" (v. 56). — The Lord Jesus came to save his people from their sins (Matthew 1:21; John 3:16-17; 1 Timothy 1:15). Everything revealed in Holy Scripture about the Lord Jesus Christ proclaims with loud voice, — “Jesus saves! Jesus saves!” His sovereign purpose in predestination is his purpose of grace. His covenant is the covenant of grace. His incarnation is the incarnation of God in human flesh, God come to save! His miracles of mercy were but pictures of mercy flowing from his heart to needy souls. His doctrine is the doctrine of grace. Grace was poured into his lips from eternity as the sinner’s Surety; and grace pours from his lips to everlasting!

 

“We have heard the joyful sound:

‘Jesus saves! Jesus saves!’

Spread the tiding all around, —

‘Jesus saves! Jesus saves!’”

 

            He says to needy sinners, "Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else." He calls pour, lost, helpless, ruined, doomed, damned sinners to himself with the promise of mercy, grace, salvation and eternal life to all who come to him!

 

 

 

 

 

Don Fortner

 

 

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