The heart of the matter is that Jesus had to make a difficult decision – whether or not to go to Jerusalem. He knew that if he went there, more likely than not he would be killed. Some will argue that there was no decision to make. This was simply who he was and, being who he was, it was straightforward what must occur. He must go up to Jerusalem, die, rise again, and be on with the next phase of God’s plan – the Church.
But life is rarely as plain and clear when we live it as it is when we look back upon it. And life, even his life, surely has the same basic tone that your life and mine have. That basic tone is that we are free, aren’t we? I don’t have to be a pastor. That is the character of my existence – freedom. Moses was free, wasn’t he? Abraham was free. Isaac was free. Isaiah was free to be a prophet or not, and so was Jesus. He could have retreated to a safe sanctuary and decided not to go through with the whole thing. Otherwise, he wasn’t a human being but only a puppet, not a man but a robot. As far as I know, puppets and robots do not save people.
So Jesus freely decided whether or not to go to Jerusalem. Some people tried to persuade him not to go. Others wanted him to go with an army at his back. Some thought he should join the Zealots, a group of revolutionaries.
Jesus decided. As it says in Luke 9, he resolutely turned to Jerusalem. He made the decision himself. A difficult decision. Not a perfect decision. After all, he would have to suffer. After all, he would have to give up his physical life, which he enjoyed as much as you and I do. But he made the decision. He set his face resolutely toward Jerusalem.
Life is much the same for us as it was for him. Most of you have a decision to make. It probably is not as momentous as the one 2000 years ago. It likely will not affect world history. But you still have a decision to make that will affect the history of your world.
I don’t know what that decision is – maybe to move, maybe to love someone, maybe to change your lifestyle, maybe to set in place a new set of priorities. I don’t know what it is. But it’s something you’ve been carrying around a while now.
I would only guess that this time of year is a good time for you or for me to decide what we must do to set our lives straight and then to turn our faces resolutely toward Jerusalem.
It’s the only way to get to Easter Sunday. This is the heart of the matter.