Friday, February 6th

When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. And he sent messengers ahead of him. On their way they entered a village of the Samaritans to make ready for him; but they did not receive him, because his face was set toward Jerusalem. When his disciples James and John saw it, they said, “Lord, do you want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” But he turned and rebuked them. Then they went on to another village. As they were going along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” But Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” Another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” Jesus said to him, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”  Luke 9:51-62


Football players call it their “game face.”  Children (or spouses) know something is up when their parent (or partner) gets “that look on their face.”  It is the look of fierce determination, singleness of purpose, the refusal to lose, back down or quit.  That is the look on Jesus’ face as he “set his face toward Jerusalem.”


When I imagine these scenes with Jesus I’m not seeing the friendly smiling Jesus.  I am seeing a resolute Jesus with a quick temper and a quick tongue.  He walks right on past the Samaritans who don’t want to get involved.  He rebukes his disciples who are more than willing for God to do the dirty work of divine retribution (which allows them to sit back and watch rather than stand up for something themselves.)  He snaps at a would be follower, knowing there was a vast difference between the glory of being a follower of Jesus and the pain of actually following Jesus.


In this passage Jesus puts first things first.  He is going to take care of business.  Sometimes we have to do the same thing.


Certainly we choose our battles wisely.  And certainly we don’t fight just for the sake of fighting, nor do we stand up for things not worth standing on.  But there are times when the only lesson to be learned from the voices of criticism that are raised is that those voices are misguided, they have nothing of value to offer, and then it is time to put our game face on and plunge ahead in doing what is right.


That might cost us something.  It might cost us something if we stand up to our boss at work and refuse to cheat our customers even if such cheating seems built into the very nature of the work we are doing.  It might be painful if we befriend a new kid at school even if it costs us learning that our other friends aren’t so terribly friendly.  We might not get elected next time if we refuse to vote for a bill that we are philosophically opposed to and convinced would make things worse rather than better.


There are times when we just have to do what we have to do.  Times when our integrity and all that we believe is on the line.  There are times when following Jesus means putting on our game face, even though it means that we might be rejected by a government which is supposed to protect us, religious people who are supposed to know better, fickle crowds with a six minute attention span, or fair weather friends who follow 150 feet behind us.  There are times when we have to put first things first and go for it.


Let us pray:  Gracious Lord, we’ve prayed all week for wisdom and discernment in the face of constructive and destructive criticism.  We’ve prayed for the openness to learn the lessons of life along the way.  But today we pray for something else – we pray for the kind of courage of conviction, the resolute spirit, that marked your life.  Walk with us through the gathering storms and sustain us as we walk in the right direction.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.


One Response to “Friday, February 6th”

  1. Jeanne English Says:

    Once again your weekly theme has mirrored my life! Thank you for great insights about the difference between constructive and destructive criticism. And how Jesus dealt with it. Wonderful messages.

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