51When the days drew near for Jesus to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem.
Those who are listening to the story of Jesus know what will happen in Jerusalem. This is a turning point in the narrative. On the horizon lies the cross.
We have skipped several stories since we read last week of the man among the tombs: the healing of the woman who reached out and touched Jesus; the raising of the synagogue leaders daughter, the mission of the twelve to herald the kingdom, the feeding of the five thousand, the question “Who do people say that I am?” and Peter’s confession that Jesus is the Christ followed by Jesus’ first clear statement of his coming death and resurrection, the transfiguration with the voice from heaven saying “This is my son, listen to him,” the disciples failed attempt to cast out an evil spirit (remedied by Jesus) and their argument about who is greatest. Now Jesus is heading to Jerusalem, and the tension is rising. We are running out of time. The followers of Jesus need to understand, but they are stuck in the world of a partisan God willing to smite God’s enemies (the Samaritans) for failing to receive Jesus with appropriate hospitality. They are arguing over honor and position. The want to silence those who are not from their group. They are stymied by a demon. They don’t yet understand what Jesus means when he says God’s reign is at hand. This is not a victory tour. This is not a triumphal march to an ecclesiastical kingdom in Jerusalem. This is about the rebirth of the world.