Turning Point: The Journey to Jerusalem Begins (Luke 9:51-62)

Let’s take a journey back in time together. Think back to a moment in your childhood when you and your family were about to begin a journey to a new and perhaps distant place? The air was electric with a sense of excitement as you eagerly longed for the journey to begin and end so you could reach the destination you had dreamed about for so long.  For some of you that might have been a journey to a famous theme part, as is the case with me and my family. My brother and I were elementary age children living in the far northeast corner of the state of Oklahoma in a small town called Picher. It was Friday night, my mom had the station wagon packed and we eagerly awaited the arrival of dad home from work so we could begin the road trip to Arlington, Texas and Six Flags! Approximately 400 miles southwest of our home, my dad estimated it would be an easy seven-hour drive with stops for food and gas.

When our journey began, my mom had possession of the most valuable thing in the entire world. No, it was not money, tickets, reservation or even the bag of snacks, it was the map! My dad was so proud of it; he had spent a week studying it, annotating it and highlight the primary route we would take to Texas. Fuel stops were denoted as were rest stops and bail-out campgrounds should we need to pull up short on our planned non-stop trip to happiness and glee.

You remember those maps don’t you; you could get them for free at many filling stations across the country. They were practically wall sized in the beginning, but a careful craftsman could skillfully fold them into neat squares of a more manageable size to focus attention keenly on the area of travel. Some of you are thinking right now about just such a map your once saw displayed with pride. Yes, it takes true skill to build such a navigational masterpiece. But the miracle happens in the passenger seat where the navigator is charged with deciphering the hieroglyphs at 70 mph on a bumpy two-lane road in dim lighting while feeding the beasts in the backseat and keeping their unruly behavior to a minimum. Been there?

If you are like me there was only one driver in the family, and it was my dad. Bob Glover never yielded the steering wheel to anyone, no matter how many hours he had worked or how tired he must have been. If there was driving to be done, he was doing it. But, the all-important role of navigator, that job fell to my mom. Dad called her Sug, short for sugar. Bob and Sug didn’t have many arguments during their lifetime, not that I remember anyway.  But there were more than a few heated discussions over those maps and whether we were traveling on the right or wrong road.

Is this bringing back any memories? If so, then you know full well the unforgivable sin that every navigator feared making. In our case, it almost always happened at night, and often in the rain as I recall. With little clarity of vision, we would sometimes travel tens of miles before realizing the dreaded inevitable thing had happened. Yes indeed, we had missed the turn off! Did anything like that ever happen with your family…

Well, as it happened in our case, it was a dark and rainy night with no moon to aid the navigator. And sure enough, it happened. That easy seven-hour drive turned into 10 and we thought we would never make it to Texas. Then along about 3:00 AM the car comes to a stop and there we are; at long last we had arrived at the Howard Johnsons in Arlington, Texas. Our excitement grew as we exited the car and could see the giant roller coasters eerily illuminated in the night sky by distant lights in the background.

Then the second shoe dropped; that’s right, no room. Our reservation was not guaranteed with a credit card (my parents didn’t have one) so the motel had given away our room just a few hours before we arrived and sadly, we were not welcome there anymore. Back in the car we went, driving around for another hour or two until we finally found a room in another city, with no roller coasters…

Things like that rarely happen today with the advent of highly sophisticated GPS apps on practically every cell phone in the world. No one must read tiny map print in a poorly lit moving vehicle with whining kids in the backseat asking for the millionth time ‘are we there yet’. All we do now is listen and obey. And still we end up missing the turning point far too often because of distractions and/or inattentiveness.

What does all of this have to do with the Gospel of Luke you ask? Plenty. For you see, our focal passage today marks the beginning of a major journey for Jesus and His disciples. It signifies a significant turning point in the ministry and mission of Christ. One that cannot be missed without dire consequences for the world. In Luke 9:51-62, Jesus turns from Galilee and heads toward Jerusalem. The long, arduous journey has begun. The road map is in place, the landmarks are all ahead and the author and creator of the plan is also the navigator. But He is not alone on the journey, He has others with Him. Others who are watching and learning as events unfold before their very eyes. And when they make their first stop along the journey, guess what happens. Yep, there’s no room. They are unwelcome when they arrive.

How did that happen? Why did it happen? How did Jesus respond when it happened? You’ll have to join us on the journey through God’s Word to find out!

If you’re unable to join us in person for this study, please feel free to download the Bible study materials for your personal use by following one of these links: PowerPoint Slides, PDF File.  For more information on this Bible study series please see Doubtless Living: The Gospel of Luke.