There are two people in the Bible who set their faces toward Jerusalem. The first was Jesus. Luke 9:51 says, “And it came about when the days were approaching for His ascension that He resolutely set His face to go to Jerusalem.” His ascension … the time in which He would be received up into heaven to sit at the right hand of His Father. But going up to Jerusalem spoke of something else … it spoke of the cross.
The second was Paul. In Acts we find that Jerusalem was Paul’s goal. As he prepared to start back from the third missionary journey, we’re told that “Paul purposed in the spirit to go to Jerusalem after he had passed through Macedonia and Achaia” (Acts 19:21). And then, “For Paul had decided to sail past Ephesus … for he was hurrying to be in Jerusalem, if possible, on the day of Pentecost” (Acts 20:16).
But, as with Jesus, there was a dark side to his journey. In Acts 20 Paul said, “And now, behold, bound in spirit, I am on my way to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit solemnly testifies to me in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions await me” (verse 24). Then, the disciples in Tyre “kept telling Paul, through the Spirit, not set foot in Jerusalem.” And finally, Paul is given a prophetic word by Agabus, who taking Paul’s belt, bound his own hands and feet and said, “This is what the Holy Spirit says, ‘In this way the Jews at Jerusalem will bind the man who owns this belt and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles'” (Acts 21:11)
But listen to what Paul said in response to all these warnings. He said, “… none of these things move me, neither do I count my life as dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24). And, “Then Paul said, ‘For I am ready not only to be bound, but even to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 21:13).
Just like his Master, for Paul, going to Jerusalem spoke of a cross. And yet, both had set their faces in that exact direction.
And so, the question for us becomes: In what direction have we set our faces? Is our goal a new or a bigger house; a new or a better car; maybe a better place to live; a bigger diamond; new furniture or nicer clothes? Or maybe it’s a new or better job; worldly success or a ministry position … the list could go on and on and on. Sometimes we need to take stock and make sure that our goals match the goal of our Savior.
Listen to a profound poem by Amy Carmichael entitled Scars:
Hast thou no scar? No hidden scar on foot, or side, or hand? I hear thee sung as mighty in the land, I hear them hail thy bright ascendant star. Hast thou no scar?
Hast thou no wound? Yes, I was wounded by the archers spent. Leaned me against the tree to die, and rent. By ravening beasts that compassed me, I swooned: Hast thou no wound?
No wound? No scar? Yes, as the Master shall the servant be, And pierced are the feet that follow Me; But thine are whole. Can he have followed far, Who has no wound? No scar?