And it came to pass, when the time was come that He should be received up, He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem… (Luke 9:51). KJV
Determination shows itself on the face. We have seen it on the faces of athletes. That’s why we call it a game face. But it also shows up when games are not part of the picture. Warriors show that face when heading off into danger. So did Jesus.
He had just finished busy days. He had fed thousands with a couple of fish and a few loaves of bread. He had allowed three of the disciples catch a greater glimpse of his glory when he talked with Moses and Elijah on that high hill. His face had changed then, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning.
Afterwards, he again showed his power and glory by driving a demon from a helpless boy. About the nearby people, we hear: “They were all amazed at the greatness of God” (Luke 9:43).
After all this, most expected good times and easy victories lay ahead. Not Jesus.
The disciples did not understand his warning: “The Son of man must suffer many things and be rejected…and he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life” (Luke 9:22).
They felt it could not be. He knew it must be.
It would not be easy for Jesus. He would beg his Father to find a different way to rescue us. His sweat would become as drops of blood falling to the ground. Later, blood would flow from his thorn-cut head, his whip-torn back, his nail-pierced hands, and finally his spear-stabbed body. And he knew in advance all this was going to happen! When the time came that he should leave for Jerusalem with its waiting pain and death, he did not flinch. He put on his game face. Good for us that he did! Good for our loved ones who call him Lord! Good for everyone who loves him.
He knew what was waiting for him beyond the pain and the grave. He had told his disciples about first death, then resurrection. He looked forward eagerly to “be received up.” After death, the next stop would be heaven. Thus it is for all who follow him. Thus it was for Elijah and Moses who had followed him in days of old. Thus it was for all who have died in the saving faith.
So it will be for us. So, when the trouble and the pain and even the shadow of death show up on our life’s path, we will do as Jesus did. We will meet them with our game face on—and walk on to glory.
We pray: Lord Jesus, you were determined to rescue us from sin, death, and the devil even though you knew you would have to go through agony and death to do it. We thank you for that. We are ashamed of the times that we flinched and failed to follow you in our lives. Keep us strong. Make us holy. Take us home. Amen.
Written by Pastor Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain and Liaison to the Military, Cape Coral, Florida Provided by WELS Ministry to the Military