I think most of us would agree that Jesus had a successful earthly ministry. I think a good deal of ministers of the Gospel would probably not mind a ministry like His. If we look in Luke chapters 7-9 we see a great deal of things that look like a successful ministry. To be honest, if I was building a ministry I would be very happy with the results I see in these chapters. There is great teaching, divine healing, casting out demons, and followers getting revelation. Simply put it is pretty incredible.
In chapter 7 there is the centurion who sends word to Jesus that his servant is sick and makes this great confession of faith and Jesus heals the servant. Then shortly after this, there was a dead man being carried and Jesus raised Him from the dead. Then as the crowds gather Jesus teaches them in these great parables. This is also a story of a woman washing Jesus’ feet with her tears. It is just one thing after another.
Moving to chapter 8 there are more great parables including the parable of the sower. A personal favorite happens here where Jesus calms the wind and the waves. Once the boat lands, we have the story of Jesus casting out the legion of demons into a herd of pigs. It then goes on to talk about the woman being healed just by touching the hem of His clothes. As if that was not enough there is another person raised to life, this time, a little girl.
Chapter 9 does not let up either. You might think with all this there would be a breather but this is like a fast action flick. Jesus sends out the disciples so they go and start doing ministry. After this, there is the feeding of the multitude (5000 men) with the fish and bread. Can you imagine what that must have been like? I bet there has never been fresher bread eaten. A little while later is when we read Peter’s confession that Jesus is the Messiah (Christ). Jesus then predicts His death and resurrection and tells them (and us) that we have to take up our cross and follow Him. We are not even done with chapter 9. There is also the transfiguration, another demon cast out, another prediction, and more teaching. Then Jesus says something about going to Jerusalem.
Wait! Pump the breaks! I thought Jesus had a pretty good thing going here why on earth would He want to go to Jerusalem? They want to kill Him there. Jesus has been seeing growth in His following, He was performing miracles, and He was casting out demons. What more could He want? Jerusalem was bad for business. How many people want to go to the place where they want to kill you when things are going well? Things are good in Judea why ruin it? Not only that Luke says that Jesus steadfastly set His face to Jerusalem which means nothing was going to stop Him. The word in the greek is stērizō and means to make stable, place firmly, set fast, fix 2) to strengthen, make firm, 3) to render constant, confirm one’s mind. He was going and nothing was going to stop Him? But why?
The answer is two parts. First, because it was time. If you remember we said twice before this He predicted His death and resurrection. Also, Jesus spoke about the right time a few times. He said to His mother in John 2:4 my hour (or time) has not yet come. But now it was time, it was time to head towards His death. He knew that now He must go and be betrayed into the hands of men (Luke 9:44). The second reason is you. You are why He went to Jerusalem. He went because you needed Him to. Jesus had a successful ministry on earth but He was about to have an even more successful ministry. Instead of teaching here and there, instead of healing here and there, instead of gaining followers here and there He was about to go global. He did great in Israel but now He was about to launch a worldwide ministry. The likes of which had never been seen and it was all for you and me.
Hebrews 12:2 says that for the joy set before Him Jesus endured the cross. Jesus had a good thing going but there was a better thing in store for us so He did that. He went to the cross so that we could be forgiven and live a full abundant life. He set us free and in doing so changed everything. The whole game changed after the cross. But it started with Him setting His face to Jerusalem. It started with a determination that He would die while we still sinners. It started with a the idea that He would love us first. Jesus knew that while He had a good thing going there was a better thing waiting. You are that better thing. You are the reason for the cross. I don’t say that negatively either. Yes, our sin put Him there, but He chose it. He chose it because He loves you and He could not stand to see you apart from Him.
The cross is pain, agony, and death. But it is also joy, love, and life because of what it accomplished. In the words of the old hymn, “Jesus paid it all, All to Him I owe; Sin had left a crimson stain, He washed it white as snow.” It was all paid by Him in love for you. I am so glad Jesus left a good thing for a great thing.
Just a thought,