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. [Luke 9:51-31]
The phrase SET HIS FACE is an interesting phrase. It appears twice in our gospel lesson this coming Sunday. We also find the concept in Ezekiel 3:8 where God warns Ezekiel that his message will not be well received: “See I have made your FACE HARD against their faces, and your FOREHEAD HARD against their forehead.” We find it again in Isaiah 50:7 where the prophet says “Therefore I have SET MY FACE like flint, and I know that I shall not be put to shame; God who vindicates me is near.”
So what does all this face setting mean? Obviously it means more than putting on your make-up! Several English translations do a great job of bringing out the meanings in this phrase: “Strong with resolve” – The Voice; “Was determined” – NASB; “Made up his mind” – CEV; “Gathered up his courage and steeled himself for the journey” – The Message.
Jesus SET HIS FACE to go to Jerusalem. In other words, he was strong with resolve to follow God’s will even though he knew what awaited him at the end of the road. He gathered up his courage, kept his eyes looking forward, and made sure that nothing distracted him. Later he used the phrase “keep you hand on the plow” to say the same thing. In modern language we would probably say “keep your hands on the steering wheel and your eyes looking forward.”
This coming Sunday’s gospel lesson reminds us that we are also challenged to SET OUR FACES in life. We are challenged to not let distractions get in the way of living a God-centered life. This is SO HARD to do because there are SO MANY distractions that cause our focus to go in a thousand different directions: working more than one job, thinking that multi-tasking is a good thing, our obsessive use of cell phones, too many people crying for our attention, feeling overwhelmed by all the violence and hatred in our world, etc.
Being a follower of Christ does not happen by accident. We need to be “strong with resolve” to follow the Way of Love. We need to “gather up our courage and steel ourselves for the journey” because following Jesus can sometimes be a rough and bumpy ride. Let’s use this week to think about the things that distract us from living a God-centered life and work toward a deeper commitment to Christ.
Copyright ©2016 by David Eck