Set Toward Jerusalem: The End of the Long Journey

Text: Luke 9:51 and Luke 19:28–41 ESV

In the fall of 1999 and spring of 2000, Katie and I were engaged and planning our wedding. As we prayed about our next steps, we thought God was calling me to seminary and full-time ministry. So, we planned our wedding, rented a house to stay around for another year so Katie could finish up her degree at BSU, and then intended to apply and then attend seminary in 2001. That didn’t turn out to be God’s plan!

It is another story for another time to tell of those wonderful 12 years where God had left and right turns, all along the way demonstrating his love and care for us. At times we wondered if God really had wanted seminary and full-time ministry for us, or if we had misheard. As jobs came and went, as we started our own business, and as five children mysteriously popped up in our house, it was easy to put our hand to the work God had in front of us, and be excited about the ministry opportunities we had all around us.

Yet, in 2012, God began to stir in our hearts again. When I asked Katie about moving away to go to seminary, in God’s grace she no longer cried at the thought of moving a family of five who were ages 8, 7, 6, 4, and 2 across the country away from family and free babysitters. And it was literally 13 years to the day we got married—August 4, 2013—that we pulled away from our home church at that time, through tears, and headed out after a Sunday service toward Minneapolis.

One Suburban, packed with three kids and two cats. One Ford F-250 packed with two kids and an entire back-end stuffed to the gills with belongings. Three days on the road. Gabe had ear infection, the cats decided the litter belonged all over the car, and Katie, Abigail and I all came down with Strep and had to unload our belongings with 101 degree plus fevers. And that was just the beginning of our journey. Or was it?

We could have viewed our trip to Minneapolis as the “beginning” of our seminary experience. And we had no clue what we were in for! Four years with many surprises, both hard and joyful. Yet, in hindsight, we could easily say that God had started this journey for us years earlier, before we were even married, and likely even before that. And our trip out to Minneapolis was just the end of the journey to get there. This amazing path God gave us to get to the next stage.

He Set His Face to Jerusalem

This is very similar to what we find as we look back in Luke this morning. Clear back in Luke 9, we see that Luke tells us:

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

Jesus knew where his ministry was going to end up, and what it would look like. There was no happenstance, no mistakes, no moments where Jesus was taken aback by what occurred. He knew where he was headed, the path it would take, and the cost of that moment.

As we come to Luke 19 this morning, we see that Jesus’s journey has brought him right to the outskirts of Jerusalem. He has been traveling there, along with many pilgrims, for the Passover celebrations. Crowds of people are on this road, winding its way up from Jericho to Bethany and Bethphage. And here Jesus is on the Mount of Olives coming down across the valley getting ready to enter Jerusalem.

It’s funny, we sometimes call this passage Jesus’s “Triumphal Entry,” but it really isn’t. Everything in our passage happens outside of Jerusalem and it is really a capstone of his ministry up to Jerusalem—it is actually the conclusion of the long journey to get there, much like our trip to Minneapolis. 

And like my family’s journey, this is something God has been working on for a long time—since before creation and the garden. This morning, I want to back up and look at that entire story with you. We don’t always do this in every passage that we preach. Usually we want to start with the exact context and see how it fits into the immediate story and then the whole bible and your life. But this morning I want to zoom out right at the beginning and remind you of the much larger story that this exact moment in Luke fits into. It is not a story that God didn’t know. In fact, he told us much about it from the very beginning. So, sit back for a minute and follow along with me as we survey this story.

God’s Great Rescue

This story started in the garden. Adam and Eve gave in to sin, and in doing so set the pattern for the rest of humanity, where we all pit ourselves in opposition to God and his good plan for our lives. Praise God he was willing to go down this path with us! Right then and there he set in motion the story that we are seeing played out in Luke today. God promised that Jesus would come as the promised seed of Adam who would crush Satan’s head (Genesis 3:15). And the rest of the story shows how only Jesus is the great savior of his people and there is no other beside him (Isaiah 43).

Who This Jesus Is [1]

So much of this is possible because of who this Jesus is as we have said as we have preached through Luke. And for us and the disciples, the Old Testament tells us much about who Jesus is in this story.

  • He is the descendent of Abraham through whom every nation on earth would be blessed (Genesis 12:3)

  • He is the greater son of Israel who comes out of Egypt, and He is the great redeemer who brings his people out of bondage and slavery that is far worse than anything the Israelites experienced there (Exodus 12–14)

  • He is the true bread from heaven that nourishes and feeds his people like Israel in the wilderness (Exodus 16)

  • He is the Rock from whom the only life-giving water flows (Exodus 17)

  • He is the one through whom we enter into our lasting Sabbath rest, not just for one day out of seven, but for every day from now through all eternity (Exodus 23:10–12)

  • He is a city of refuge for guilty sinners to run into and find shelter (Numbers 34)

  • He is our conquering warrior, victorious over the powers of sin and death (Joshua 5)

  • He is the righteous judge and savior who never fails to defend and protect his people when they repent and turn back to him (Judges 2)

  • He is the eternally begotten Son of the Lord Most High, whom kings fear in his anger and who blesses those who take refuge in him (Psalm 2)

  • In his coming, the glory of the Lord is revealed and all flesh shall see it together (Isaiah 40)

  • He is the very wisdom of God made manifest in the flesh (Proverbs)

  • He is the only purpose in life that matters (Ecclesiastes) 

But Jesus isn’t just a promised prophet, another “good” man serving the Lord his God. No, he is much, much more.

  • He is our chief prophet and teacher who restores true religion by calling us away from our idols to return to the One True God (1 Kings 18)

  • He is the shepherd of his sheep, who restores the soul of his fold and leads us in paths of righteousness (Psalm 23)

  • He is the Word of God incarnate, and the only lamp for our path (Psalm 119)

  • He is the radiance of God, the exact representation of his being, and is the very presence and glory of God among his people, even more than the ark or the pillars of cloud and fire (Exodus 40:34–38)

What This Jesus Does!

This promised savior, prophet, teacher, shepherd—GOD himself—comes and does much more than we could ever imagine.

His Righteousness

  • He is the Lord’s servant, in whom God delights, and with whom he is very well pleased (Isaiah 42)

  • He is the fulfillment of the Law, perfectly obeying not only the 10 Commandments, but all 613 form the day of his birth (Exodus 20)

  • He gives us every blessing for his obedience to God’s perfect commands, and he paid the price for the curse we deserved for our every disobedience (Deuteronomy 28)

His Death

And he does this in the most unexpected way, through his death.

  • He is the Passover Lamb who was slain to protect God’s people from the Angel of Death (Exodus 12)

  • He is the once and for all sacrifice that God offered on the altar on the Day of Atonement on Calvary, and at the same time he is the scape goat that was sent out of God’s presence into the wilderness on account of the sin that he bore (Leviticus 16)

  • He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief. He was oppressed and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep goes before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth. He is the one who bore our griefs and carried our sorrows. He was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed (Isaiah 53)

  • He drinks the cup of the wine of the wrath of God so that his people will be spared (Jeremiah 25)

  • He is like the bronze serpent that was lifted up and when people look to him in faith, they find forgiveness and healing (Numbers 21)

His Resurrection

But death couldn’t stop this plan and this great rescue mission! We see that Jesus:

  • He is the very temple of God, which though destroyed was raised again in 3 days (1 Kings 8; 2 Chronicles 3)

  • He was for a time forsaken by God on the cross, so that those who are found in him might never be rejected (Psalm 22). And yet, his body did not see corruption, because, as David sang, God did not abandon him to Sheol, but raised him physically with an incorruptible body (Psalm 16)

  • He is the offspring of David whose kingdom has been established forever. (2 Samuel 7)

Resurrected King

Now, as our resurrected King:

  • He is the merciful husband who takes back his unfaithful wife, and allows us to once again call him “My husband” rather than “My Baal” (Hosea 1–3)

  • He is the sun of righteousness, who will rise with healing in his wings, and as a result of what he has done, we, like calves, will go out leaping from our stalls (Malachi 4)

  • He leads his redeemed people into the Promised Land where they will dwell with him forever (Joshua 3)

  • He is leading a remnant out of Babylon and back to the Holy Land (Ezra 7)

  • He is Job’s hope and ours because we know that our Redeemer lives and at the last he will stand upon the earth (Job 19:25)

  • He creates the new heavens and the new earth and he will dwell with his people there forever (Isaiah 65)

Jesus in Control

This is the story that had been written from the beginning and revealed over millennia, now being worked out in front of all creation—heaven and earth! And as we come to our passage this morning in Luke 19, we as well as all of Israel are meant to remember this entire story in the Old Testament and be assured that Jesus is in full control of his destiny. Look at how he talks to his disciples as they near Jerusalem. Luke 19:28–34:

“And when he had said these things, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. When he drew near to Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount that is called Olivet, he sent two of the disciples, saying, “Go into the village in front of you, where on entering you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever yet sat. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ you shall say this: ‘The Lord has need of it.’” So those who were sent went away and found it just as he had told them. And as they were untying the colt, its owners said to them, “Why are you untying the colt?” And they said, “The Lord has need of it.”” (Luke 19:28–34 ESV)

We see here that Jesus has arrived in Jerusalem righteous and having salvation, yet he was humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. This is straight out of Zechariah 9:9

“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” (Zechariah 9:9 ESV)

And it is happening at Jesus’s command. He knows where the donkey is. He knows there will be no problem from the owner to use him. Jesus is in control.

We see in our passage Jesus coming toward Jerusalem as a king, both in image and in praise. First, in image. Luke 19:35–36: 

“And they brought it to Jesus, and throwing their cloaks on the colt, they set Jesus on it. And as he rode along, they spread their cloaks on the road.” (Luke 19:35–36 ESV)

This is the picture of a king coming in power. Listen to how King Jehu was coronated in Israel:

“‘Thus says the LORD, I anoint you king over Israel.’” Then in haste every man of them took his garment and put it under him on the bare steps, and they blew the trumpet and proclaimed, “Jehu is king.”” (2 Kings 9:12b–13 ESV)

Jesus is not writing this story on the fly, nor are the characters here thwarting his intentions. The story is written—he is in control.

The End of the Journey to Jerusalem

Yet it is what happens next, the picture of the people and the leaders, that shows us this is no triumphal entry but really a summary moment of Jesus’s entire ministry up to this point, and the end of the journey to the last stage of his ministry on earth. Their praise of him as king coupled with the leader’s rejection is poignant. Jesus is coming down the mountain, not yet coming up to Jerusalem and look at Luke 19:37–40 with me:

“As he was drawing near—already on the way down the Mount of Olives—the whole multitude of his disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen, saying, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” And some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.” He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.”” (Luke 19:37–40 ESV) 

As we have seen again and again, he people have a heart to praise Jesus, but only partly. They want a king, someone to rescue them, but they do not want to have to repent. And the leaders are openly in opposition to Jesus because of his threat to them and their existing systems. As we all know, the people end up following the leaders call of rebuke in just a few days when they call for Jesus to be crucified.

They all miss that they are at war with God. As Psalm 7:12–13 says:

“If a man does not repent, God will whet his sword: he has bent and readied his bow; he has prepared for him his deadly weapons, making his arrows fiery shafts.”(Psalm 7:12-13 ESV)

Or as Paul writes in Romans 3:9–18:

“What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” “Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive.” “The venom of asps is under their lips.” “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.” “Their feet are swift to shed blood; in their paths are ruin and misery, and the way of peace they have not known.” “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”” (Romans 3:9–18 ESV)

This was our problem too, Table Rock. You and I do not seek God, and there is no fear of God in our eyes. And if you are here this morning and have yet to put your faith in Jesus, this is you as well. You are not at peace with God, and that was the problem Jesus noted for Jerusalem. 

It was at his birth, before the shepherds that a host of angels appeared and cried out:

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” (Luke 2:14 ESV)

Here, in Luke 19:41–44 Jesus promises there will not be peace in Jerusalem, for those who reject him:

“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. For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation.”” (Luke 19:41–44 ESV)

Harkening back to prophecies like Jeremiah 6:6–21 and Isaiah 29:1–4, Jerusalem will find herself under judgement in AD 70 when the forces of Rome come in, lay siege to her, and destroy everyone in the city. Jerusalem is the fig tree in Luke 13:6–9 that had a chance to bear fruit, but because it didn’t, must be cut down (at least temporarily). Jesus has come as the prophecy of Ezekiel 34 said, because the shepherds have led the sheep astray. He himself will judge the flock, and in doing so:

“I will make with them a covenant of peace and banish wild beasts from the land so they may dwell securely in the wilderness and sleep in the woods. And I will make them and the places around my hill a blessing and I will send down the showers in the season; they shall be showers of blessing.” (Ezekiel 34:25–26 ESV)

As Paul says in Romans 5:1

“Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 5:1 ESV)


Each of us this morning are somewhere on this journey of our life. We may think we are at the beginning of a new chapter, we may think we are ending a certain stage, or we may be on the way somewhere. And it is into that journey that this story of Jesus intersects. For some of us it intersected our story years ago. For some of you, it is colliding into your life right now. In the hearing of this message this morning, all of us have several choices to make. 

  1. First, Table Rock, do we see how much God loves us? Thousands of years promising and preparing this moment in Christ’s life. For you and me! Patience that spans generations to accomplish what only God could accomplish, salvation.

  2. Second, do we see our need to repent before an awesome and holy God? Whether it is for the first time or the thousandth, our sin is an act of war against a holy God and we must turn and seek peace with him. He is offering that peace through Jesus Christ—in his righteousness and his sacrifice you and I are brought back into relationship with God. As we enter into communion this morning, are there any of you who are not at peace with God? Take a moment of prayer to confess that to God. Which leads to:

  3. Third, make the choice the people and the leaders wouldn’t. Come to Christ your king this morning. Perhaps there have been areas in this journey of your life that feel like areas you just can’t give over to Jesus? Areas where you want to proclaim and look for a king—areas of hardship, difficulty, and trial—yet other areas you are more than happy to keep for yourself? Perhaps that is your whole life this morning. Lay it down at the feet of Jesus your true king, prophet, teacher, messiah, shepherd—GOD—and find yourself in his loving arms in grace and mercy.

[1] Thanks to Ben Falconer & Kevin DeYoung for a helpful resource of the many fulfillments of Christ in Old Testament prophecy and promises., last accessed 04-06-2019. Much of this section is adapted from that list.