Blog Post: Journey to Jerusalem

Beginning a Journey
Matthew 16:21-28 and Luke 9:21-27

            We are quickly approaching the biggest and most attended Sunday of the year.  Of course, this year our attendance takers can have the week off and google analytics will provide an official count.  No matter where you worship or even if you worship, the events of surrounding Easter have changed the world.  The impact of that first Easter morning is felt by everyone.  World history would be forever changed in light of this amazing event.  Over the next few days let’s take some time to look at Jesus as he makes his way to Jerusalem.  What does he talk about? What’s his demeanor? What does he do? 

            This Journey to Jerusalem begins to get very real and focused when Jesus begins talking to his disciples about death.  I know, I know, Jesus’ journey began in a manger surrounded by shepherds, but our focus begins when Jesus fully turns his eye toward Jerusalem and the events that will unfold.  This journey begins in Matthew 16 and Luke 9 when Jesus predicts his death for the first time. 

This seems like an odd way to begin a journey to the most significant event in human history.  Most of us would begin such an important journey by rallying support and building up anticipation.  Perhaps we would slowly unveil a great marketing campaign designed to draw people in and create excitement.  I am not a great marketer, but I do know that starting your campaign with ‘I am going to suffer many things and then die, so grab your suffering cross and join me!,’ does not tend to get good results.  Jesus may be the worst marketer and event planner ever!  What was he thinking?

Why didn’t Jesus start off with saying something like this: ‘Do you want to find purpose and meaning? Follow me to Jerusalem! Do you want to find hope and peace? Follow Me! Do you want new life and victory? Follow my lead!’

This is the marketing pattern we prefer; a promise we can get what we want without mentioning the reality of how this is achieved.  Even Peter reflects this in his response to Jesus.  He assures Jesus that this suffering will not happen.  Jesus responds in a fairly direct and extreme way by saying, “Get behind me, Satan!” Clearly Peter did not understand Jesus’ methods or way of thinking.  We easily fall into this trap as well.

Jesus tells his disciples true life is found in taking up a cross.  This is not an easy way to finding fulfillment and purpose, but it is the only way.  Jesus knows life will be full of challenges for each of us. Yes, this will include suffering.  There is nothing you can do to avoid this in your life.  Aren’t you glad we have a God who acknowledges this truth from the beginning?  The reality of life being challenging is not in the fine print. Jesus is up front about the difficult road we all will walk. 

This journey to Jerusalem begins with Jesus being brutally honest with us.  Life will have times of pain and suffering.  Jesus himself will experience suffering in unimaginable detail.  Jesus doesn’t want us to have the misconception everything will be easy if we just follow him.  He wants us to know new life is found through the suffering.  Choosing to follow Jesus each and every day leads to experiencing victory in the midst of a challenging world.   

Are we willing to choose to live the life Jesus has called us to live?  This is a life that will not be easy, but will lead to fulfillment, purpose and meaning in spite of life’s challenges. Guess what, no other way of life is easy either; they just eventually lead to frustration, anger and a desire for more.  Take up the way of Jesus by taking your cross and walking toward victory.

Leave a Reply