Easter 2024 Elaine

The turning point in Luke’s gospel

Elaine Duncan, CEO of Scottish Bible Society reflects on the clear decision Jesus makes that leads us to the cross:

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Recently I have been pondering the verse that is widely accepted as the turning point in Luke’s gospel.

Chapter 9 verse 51 says: ‘As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem.’

There is about two thirds of the gospel still to go, but at this point Luke notes a clear decision that Jesus makes. The word ‘resolutely’ suggests this is no easy decision. Other words that English translations of the Bible use are: set his face; determined; settled himself fully; resolved and in one paraphrase (The Message): gathered up his courage and steeled himself for the journey to Jerusalem.

So, this was no casual decision made by Jesus. We know that he understood what awaited him in Jerusalem. He had indicated to his disciples that his death was on the horizon. No wonder it took a determined choice and much courage to take that journey.

The geographical journey that Jesus sets out on speaks of a greater journey he will undertake. Luke notes that the time was approaching for him to be taken up to heaven. The eternal Son of God, who came from heaven to live among us, will be taken back into heaven. But before that ascension to heaven there is work for Jesus to do and that will take place in Jerusalem.

The writer to the Hebrews captures Jesus’ courage and resolve in this way: ‘For the joy that was set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.’ (Hebrews 12:2) When Jesus set his face to go to Jerusalem, he had an end goal in mind that would result in something glorious for us. Through his death and resurrection, which we remember and celebrate this Eastertime, Jesus opens the way for us to travel from earth to heaven too.

The next section of Luke’s gospel covers a lot of Jesus’ teaching, including what it will cost to follow him. The journey of suffering and death that Jesus takes on our behalf is also the pattern for us as his followers.

Many of our sisters and brothers around the world have to courageously steel themselves to follow Jesus. This may be your experience of discipleship too. As we share the Bible and share our stories, let’s encourage one another to keep going, for the end goal is glorious.

All of us at the Scottish Bible Society wish you a very happy Easter.

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