Are We “Cross-Eyed” As We Anticipate Easter?

Chris —  March 21, 2014 — Leave a comment

Our church is making a special effort to be cross-centered this year as we celebrate Holy Week. A very helpful way to prepare for Good Friday and Easter Sunday is to study Luke’s Travel Narrative. I will be preaching on the healing of the 10 lepers on Sunday and there is a D.A. Carson sermon below that you can watch.

Luke 9:51-19:44, sometimes called Luke’s “Travel Narrative” is a section of Luke’s gospel that emphasizes Jesus’s determination to go to the cross.[1]

For a great introduction to Luke’s Travel Narrative, watch D.A. Carson’s sermon from The Gospel Coalition 2014, “Jesus’s Resolve to Go to Jerusalem.”

Jesus’ Resolve to Head Toward Jerusalem – Don Carson (TGC13) from The Gospel Coalition on Vimeo.

Throughout the “Travel Narrative” Luke returns reminds his readers that Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem. Notice these verses:

 When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. Luke 9:51

He went on his way through towns and villages, teaching and journeying toward Jerusalem. Luke 13:22

 On the way to Jerusalem he was passing along between Samaria and Galilee. Luke 17:11

 And taking the twelve, he said to them, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written about the Son of Man by the prophets will be accomplished. Luke 18:31

And when he had said these things, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. Luke 19:28

 And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. Luke 19:41-42.

 Luke’s agenda is to show Jesus determination to go to Golgotha.[2]The point of the travel emphasis is not to trace a geographical route. The person who focuses on a map misses the point. Rather than a list of places, seventeen parables dominate this section[3] and, interestingly, Luke mentions few miracles in this segment.[4]

Green lists 5 points of emphasis in his Travel Narrative:[5]

  1. With Christ, salvation is coming in its fullness to all people, which Green regards as the overall theme of Luke-Acts.[6] See Luke 19:10!*
  2. The expectation was that Mary’s son would be the cause of division in Israel. Those who read this section closely notice the hostility of the religious leaders builds as Jesus makes his way to Jerusalem. By the time he arrives, things move to a murderous crescendo.
  3. Jesus, in order to fulfill God’s purpose, must suffer rejection and be killed. Likewise, Christ’s followers must enter the kingdom through many persecutions (Acts 14:22).
  4. The “journey” to Jerusalem is a time of intensive training for the disciples who are surprisingly obtuse. Much of the content of this section is very didactic or instructional.
  5. Progress is being made in an incredible way for God’s unfolding plan of buying his people back from their bondage to sin..

*As noted in point #1 above, one aspect of the beauty of Luke’s Travel Narrative is that it anticipates the gospel going to all nations. Immediately after Jesus sets his face on Jerusalem (Luke 9:51), the Samaritans reject Christ because of his commitment to Jerusalem. Echoing 2 Kings 1, the James and John offer to call down fire (Luke 9:51-56). This is not altogether surprising since this follows the Transfiguration and recalling that Elijah did call down fire on blasphemous Samaritans (2 Kings 1).

However, with their suggestion of fire from heaven, James and John demonstrate that they fundamentally misunderstand the nature of Christ’s Kingdom. To be sure, God’s judgment was coming. But Jesus was going to take the penalty for sin upon himself on the cross so that the Gospel could go out to Samaria (Acts 1:6-8). Jesus rebukes James and John and goes to the cross to take the fire on him so that the gospel might go out to Samaria and all the world. (See my sermon on 2/16/14, “Fixed on the Cross I: Two Passages to Know on Holy Week”).


[1] Darrel L. Bock, Luke 9:51-24:53, ed. Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1996), 957. See also D.A. Carson, “Jesus’ Resolve to Head Toward Jerusalem” (presented at the The Gospel Coalition, Orlando, Florida, April 9, 2013), http://thegospelcoalition.org/resources/entry/jesus_resolve_to_head_toward_jerusalem. Green points to this list of travel allusions: 9:51, 53, 56, 57; 10:1, 38; 13:22, 23; 14:25; 17:11; 18:31, 35-36; 19:1, 11, 28, 39, 37, 41, 45. Green, The Gospel of Luke, 398, n. 12.

[2] Green, The Gospel of Luke, 399.

[3] Ibid., 398.

[4] Bock, Luke 9:51-24:53, 960.

[5] Green, The Gospel of Luke, 394–399.

[6] Ibid., 394.

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