When the days drew near for Jesus to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. (Luke 9:51)
It is so vitally, vitally important that we have the courage to know Jesus fully, not just the stories or teachings of Jesus that set us as ease.
Jesus setting his face to go to Jerusalem meant Jesus had committed to giving His life for the sins of the world upon the cross in Jerusalem. Once Jesus made this commitment he ensured his followers, and potential followers, were fully aware the difficult path he was following.
In fact, in the Gospel reading we learn of a man who asks to follow Jesus. Our Lord cautions him, saying “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” (v 58) Jesus called another potential follower, who asked if he could finish caring for family members before becoming a follower. Jesus replied with this famous statement. “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” (v 62)
Notice that Jesus is saying these hard words to his supporters, to potential followers. It reminds me of our very human tendency to focus on favorite teaching of Jesus or account about Jesus, to the exclusion to other teaching or stories about our Lord that make us uncomfortable.
Maybe we focus on Jesus’ teaching on the Sermon on the Mount. Or we repeatedly read Jesus’ promises about eternal life with Him. Yet we largely ignore Jesus’ teaching on specific sins, such as pride or idolatry, because it makes us uneasy.
Some of us love to retell accounts such as Jesus calling His first disciples. Or Jesus healing people. Yet we shy away from Jesus’ parables about the judgement. Or Jesus confronting religious leaders of His day, since in this day we are considered religious because of our faith and life.
For us to have the relationship with God that God desires, the relationship for which we were created, we need to know Jesus fully. At least once a year, read each Gospel end to end. Get to know Jesus fully through the Scriptures, as we are fully known by God.
(A Second Look devotions are written for the churches of the Ohio District LCMS.)