THE LEADER OF THE COMMITTED
Luke 9:51 56
Jesus Christ is the leader of the committed. As a leader, He can be our Teacher.. Our text comes right in the
midst of the passage that reveals His tough demands upon His disciples. He knew the kind of people He needed
to accomplish His purpose on earth, and He was never willing to compromise His demands. He wanted only
those who were ready to make a full commitment. This is what He was doing so it was what He expected of
Our text finds our Lord closing the book on Galilee. To this point much of His ministry has been in that region
around the Sea of Galilee. In Luke's account of His life from this point forward, He will be moving deliberately
toward Jerusalem. Much of the record will involve the actual journey to Jerusalem, and the events that happened
during the climactic week in the Holy City. No one line of scripture gives us a better insight into the commitment
of our Lord, and as to how He personally made that commitment. Surely Luke includes this because His
commitment for us should motivate us to make a like commitment for Him. He is the leader and only those who
are ready to share in His commitment to the way of the Cross can go with Him. Let's take a look at our Leader as
He makes His continuing commitment for us.
I. OUR LEADER MAKES HIS COMMITMENT UNDERSTANDINGLY
When I think of the commitment of our Lord, I want to raise questions about His understanding. It reminds me of
the question that Senator Howard Baker asked concerning President Nixon in the famous Watergate hearings.
The Senator raised the question, "How much did the President know, and when did he know it?" We have this
same question about the actions of our Lord. How much did Jesus know about the outcome of His life, and when
did He know it? Some modern interpreters have denied that our Lord ever knew. They have pictured Him as a
man who stumbled into martyrdom blindly. It is evident that Luke intends for us to think otherwise.
A. He understood the price of His commitment.
Luke reports in our text that He set His face steadfastly toward Jerusalem. Jesus had no illusions about
Jerusalem. He knew that it was a seething caldron of hostility toward Him personally and toward the ministry that
He was pursing. He knew that to go to Jerusalem was only to hasten the day of His arrest, trial, and death. He
knew that the price of the decision He was making would be death by crucifixion. So He made His commitment
with understanding. This understand¬ing evidently came to Him from the same sources that are available to us.
He gained this understanding from the discernment that the Holy Spirit imparted to Him. He gained it from His
times of communion with the Father. The most recent communion with the Father had resulted in the visitation
with Moses and Elijah in which this very eventuality was discussed. Jesus understood the price of commitment,
yet He made it.
B. He understood the purpose of the commitment.
From the same source there had also come illumination concerning the purpose of this whole ordeal. There is
an allusion to this in our text. "And it came to pass, when the time was come that He should be received up." The
New International version trans¬lates this, "As the time approached for Him to be taken up to heaven." This
interprets "received up" to be a reference to the ascension. Some translate it simply "assumption". It is better to
understand this as being a reference to the whole event, the death, burial, resurrection, and ascension. Jesus
moved toward Jerusalem directly and deliberately because He was aware that it was the time to move. It was time
for the purpose of His earthly mission to be accomplished.
There are many statements made by our Lord that indicates that He so understood His mission and His
commitment. Matthew reports that He said just a little later to the disciples, "Even as the Son of man came not to
be minis¬tered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many." (Matthew 20:28) He knew that He
was making a commitment to give His life as a ransom for the people of God. According to the Gospel of John a
little later He spoke in the same way. "As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father; and I lay down my
life for the sheep." (John 10:15) Still later John records another statement, "And Jesus answered them, saying,
The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified. Verily, verily I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat
fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit." (John 12:23,24)
We need to be clear about it. Jesus Christ made His commitment for us understandingly. He knew the worst, and
yet He deliberately moved forward toward Jerusalem.
II. OUR LEADER MADE HIS COMMITMENT VOLUNTARILY
There was no outside compulsion upon our Lord to do what He did. "He steadfastly set his face to go to
Jerusalem." He voluntarily made the deci¬sion. If we look closely at the record of His life, we can discern His
motiva¬tion in volunteering. It was not a response to an outside pressure, but rather the response to an inner
compulsion. He set out for Jerusalem under the constraint of His own heart.
A. His desire to do the will of His Father moved Him to volunteer.
He had just received a new insight into the will of His Father on the mountain. Moses and Elijah had discussed
with Him His "decease". Their focus had been upon the upcoming events in Jerusalem. So it was an awareness
of what His Father wanted, and a desire to do what His Father wanted that moved Him.
Earlier, Jesus had said, "My meet is to do the will of Him that sent me.''
This has not changed. Later, He will affirm this in the agony of the Garden of'
Prayer. He will pray, "not my will be done, but thine." If it is the will of
His Father that He go to Jerusalem, He will set his face in that direction. He
B. His love for the lost world moved Him to volunteer.
John has an interesting insight into this. "Now before the feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour
was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world,
he loved them unto the end." (John 13:1) John had a special capacity to perceive and receive the love of the
Lord. He sees Him not wavering in His love for His people even when the cross draws nigh. It was His love for us
that caused Him to set His face steadfastly toward the cross.
You will recall that chant that Jesus heard from the crowd while He was on the cross. The crowd shouted at Him,
"He saved others, Himself He cannot save." They meant it as a sign of His ultimate weakness. He could not
rescue Himself from the death that He faced, they thought. But they were wrong. It was not weakness that kept
Him on the cross. Rather it was the strength of His love that kept Him there. He was there voluntarily.
III. OUR LEADER MADE HIS COMMITMENT FIRMLY
The word in our text is "steadfastly". This says so much about the nature of His commitment to the mission. The
New International Version translates it "resolutely". The Greek text suggests that a courageous decision was
made to move forward regardless of what might happen. He was firm in His commitment.
A. The pleas of His disciples could not turn Him from His commitment.
In spite of their shortcomings, His disciples did have a devotion to Him. Their devotion to Him prompted them to
attempt to turn Him from His commitment again and again. They really voiced the counsel of the enemy as they
wanted Him to save Himself. They had failed to realize that He could not save Himself and others at the same
time. He had made up His mind that the appeals of His disciples would fall on deaf ears. He would go to
Jerusalem regardless of the consequences.
C. The rejection of the people could not turn Him from His commitment.
This may be the reason that Luke includes this incident that took place in Samaria. When Jesus sent his
disciples ahead to prepare for his coming, they were turned away. They would not make room for Jesus in their
community because His face was toward Jerusalem. Their blind prejudices against the Jews kept them from
being hospitable. The reaction of James and John was predict¬able. They asked for permission to call down a
consuming fire upon the vil¬lage. Instead of giving into the appeal of the Sons of Thunder, Jesus used the
occasion to reaffirm His commitment and moved on toward Jerusalem. It did not cause Him to waver in His
commitment to die for the sins of these people in Samaria. He has come to save them and not to destroy them
regardless of what wrong they may do toward Him.
He never wavered! When He stood before the Sanhedrin and received the abuse of the leaders, He never
wavered. His face was still set. When He was flogged by the soldiers, He never wavered. His face was still set. He
would be true to His commitment regardless of what man might do. He would die for them regardless of their
actions toward Him.
He was firm! He was steadfast! He was resolute!
This is the One that we follow. Do you not see that it is proper that He demand a like kind of commitment from
us? It is not unreasonable that He demand a full commitment from us when He made such a commitment for us.
Many of us have made commitments to Him, but they have been partial. He demands and deserves a full
commitment. Too many of our commitments have been conditional. He deserves an unconditional commitment.
Will you not join me in making such a faith commitment to Jesus Christ our Lord.