The Steadfast Face, Luke 9. 5
David Taylor, Kirknewton
There are a number of very interesting verses in Scripture that tell us about the face of our Lord. In 2 Corinthians 4. 6, we are told of the shining face that gives the light of the knowledge of the glory of God. In Matthew 26. 67, we have the scorned face that was spat upon and disfigured. In Matthew 26. 39, we have the submissive face, as he fell on his face and prayed that God's will would be done, and in Revelation 6. 16, we have the searching face that caused men to hide from His presence. In this meditation we want to think of His steadfast face.
In Luke 9. 5, we read, 'when the time was come that he should be received up, he steadfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem'. Here we see the resolute mind, the purpose of heart and the holy determination of our Lord. What did it mean for Him to go to Jerusalem? Why press on so diligently? It meant Gethsemane, the common hall, Golgotha and the grave. This purpose was ever present in the mind of our Lord. In Psalm 40. 6-8, it is said of Him prophetically, 'Mine ear hast thou opened, I delight to do thy will O God, yea thy law is within my heart'. This is quoted again in Hebrews 10. 7, 8.
A verse of a poem says,
'One ship goes east and one goest west by the selfsame wind that blows. It is the set of the sail and not the gale, that determines the way it goes'. The set of the sale is all important. It is said that in the storm and wind, the eagle can set its wings in such a way that it is lifted above the storm by the furty of the wind. The set of the sail and the movement of the wings illustrate the bent and the purpose of the mind.
There are a number of expressions in the word of God that suggest the same thought. We have the words of Ruth to Naomi, Ruth 1. 18, 'Intreat me not to leave thee, or return from following after thee, thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God'. When Naomi saw she was steadfastly minded, she left off speaking to her. Her sail was set and her mind was fixed.
In the well-known story of Daniel and his three companions, we read that the master of the eunuchs gave them foreign names, and appointed their meat and drink. But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the king's meat, Dan. 1. 8. The chief eunuch could see difficulties in arranging this, but these were overcome and Daniel was excused. He purposed in his heart, his sail was set and his mind was clear as to the course he must take.
In Acts 11 when it became evident that the hand of God was at work in Antioch, Barnabas was sent to help in the work. When he saw how great a number had believed and turned to the Lord, he was glad and exhorted them all that with purpose of heart they should cleave unto the Lord. They had set their sail so that their voyage through life would be as close to the Lord as possible.
In the story of Lot in Genesis 13, when it became necessary for him to separate from Abram, we have this significant statement, 'He pitched his tent towards Sodom'. These words indicate, that the purpose of his heart was not set in a good way. In the well-watered plains of Jordan his flocks and herds would increase abundantly.
We now go back to Luke 9. 5, and think again of the steadfast face of the Lord. In Hebrews 12. 2, we read, 'Who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame'. We may ask, 'What joy could possibly be before His mind?' Perhaps there were many. One could be the joy of doing His Father's will to the utmost, and another could be the joy of seeing heaven filled with people redeemed by His blood. In Isaiah 53. 11, we are told that 'He shall see of the travail of his soul and be satisfied'. These and other joys were before His mind while pressing on to the loneliness of the cross and the agony of Calvary.
In John 13. 1, we read that, 'having loved his own that were in the world he loved them to the end'. Many waters could not quench His love, nor the floods drown it, song of Sol. 8. 6. When death stood between Him and the people He loved, love was triumphant and steadfast, even through death.
In Luke 2. 49, the Lord said to His mother, 'Wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business'. So, at the very beginning of His life on earth, His mind was set. He came not to do His own will, but the will of Him that sent Him, John 6. 38. Always his mind was fixed, His purpose firm and His face steadfastly set.
In Isaiah 50. 4-8, we read prophetically concerning him, 'The Lord God hath opened mine ear, and I was not rebellious, neither turned away back. I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair; I hid not my face from shame and splitting; for the Lord God will help me; therefore i shall not be confounded: therefore have I set my face like a flint, and 1 know 1 shall not be ashamed.' So the prophet Isaiah saw Him as the One with the opened ear, and the steadfast face, ever going on to the goal set before Him.
Isaiah 42. 1-5, again speaks of Him, 'Behold my servant whom I uphold mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth.' Verse 3 says of Him, 'A bruised reed shall he not break and a smoking flax shall he not quench.' This was true of our Lord while here on earth; He was kind to the lost, the last and the least. He expended himself on the bruised reed and smoking flax; the poor the penitent and the sinful. He bore their griefs and carried their sorrows in His life, Matt. 8. 17, and He brought new life to all who trusted Him. Verse 4 says, 'He shall not fail nor be discouraged till he have set judgment in the earth.' Here again we see the steadfast face, the purpose of heart, and the determined mind that all through His life characterized Him.
It is good for all of us to have an aim in life. It has been said that 'If we aim at nothing we are sure to hit it' Much of the trouble with young people today is a lack of purpose in life. They do not know where they want to go, and Satan finds mischief for idle hands to do. This can also be true of older believers as well.
In John 17. 4, the Lord in prayer said, 'I have glorified thee on the earth, I have finished the work thou gavest me to do.' A glorious climax!