Jesus’ Look of Determination

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By Allen Likkel

Luke 9:51 “When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem.”

Isaiah 50: “Therefore I have set my face like a flint.”

This descriptive expression about Jesus as he journeyed to Jerusalem and his crucifixion is one that I frequently reflect on in my Lenten devotions. I am moved by the image it conveys of Jesus’ determination and resolve to complete all that the Father had asked of him. Jesus knew well what he faced. Prior to this verse in Luke 9:22 Jesus says, “The Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.” Again, in Luke 9:44 Jesus says, “Let these words sink into your ears: The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into human hands.”

I remind myself that Jesus was fully human and the prospect of the suffering he faced caused the same kind of apprehension that I would feel. Jesus was vulnerable about his dread of the coming crucifixion in the Garden of Gethsemane where he resolved to drink the bitter cup.

The writer of Hebrews gives us insight into what encouraged Jesus to persevere and “set his face” to walk this path of suffering and endure the cross. He writes (4:2), “Looking to Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy set before him, endured the cross, disregarding its shame.” Jesus could see you, and me, and the multitudes of humankind who would be forgiven, redeemed, and become eternal citizens of his kingdom, living in the joy and fulness of the New Creation.

Well, says the writer of Hebrews, take your cue from Jesus on how we are called to journey through difficult, painful, and challenging life situations. “Consider him who endured such hostility against himself from sinners, so that you may not grow weary or lose heart.” Jesus also reminded us in the same discourse in Luke where “he set his face” that “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23) Later in the passage Jesus says, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”

We are in times that call for “flint-faced” Christ followers. By the grace of God and the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, I seek to “set my face like a flint” to persevere in the journey of following Jesus. As you likewise “set your faces like a flint” may we be encouraged by Jesus’ model to keep our eyes focused on the joy that awaits us. The victory is coming. A great wedding feast and celebration awaits us.