Even though he wrote with the precision of a first century medical professional Luke's record of the journey to Jerusalem lacks a few details. The starting point isn't specifically identified. Many of the villages along the way are mentioned in generic form without specific names. It reminds me that Luke wasn't writing a travel guide or geographical lesson plan. Dr. Luke wanted his readers to note the passion and intentional movement of Jesus along the way. That is perhaps the reason God inspired him to use connection language in the stops the entourage made as they traveled. Luke shifted our focus away from the trip. The destination was his focal point.
Jesus and the disciples had been in the Galilee region. He had fed the 5,000 on a hillside facing the Sea of Galilee. If their journey began anywhere around the sea, the trip to Jerusalem would have been in the neighborhood of 118 km, around 75 miles. There would have been pauses traveling that difficult terrain. Luke noted several of them---
Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha
welcomed him into her house.
Luke 10: 38, ESV
He went on his way through towns and villages, teaching and journeying toward
Luke 13: 22, ESV
Nevertheless, I must go on my way today and tomorrow and the day following, for it
cannot be that a prophet should perish away from Jerusalem.’
Luke 13: 33, ESV
On the way to Jerusalem he was passing along between Samaria and Galilee.
Luke 17: 11, ESV
Each verse reminds the reader that Jesus was either "on the way", "on my way", or "on his way". Stops were made. Jesus ministered, served, and blessed people in those remote towns and villages. In each instance, however, his focus was on mission---"finishing the work of his Father in heaven" (see John 4: 34). This kind of mission focus inspires and challenges me. You know it's true. Today the Christian community in the USA stays busy and occupied with worthy and beneficial service. In many instances, however, mission is set aside. As the old saying goes, we're often so busy doing church that we lose focus on being church. Ouch. That's a strong dose.
It is easy to lose focus in a world of need. Not one of the ministries Jesus performed during that journey could be considered wrongful, or outside the scope of Christian ministry. They were certainly not distractions. Jesus taught, healed, and served at every rest-stop. He never lost focus of his destination, however. All of those ministry needs were "on the way". Jerusalem was central.
Focus is a product of genuine passion. Take right now, for example. Few of us are scientifically qualified to do anything regarding the coronavirus. Even the thousands of medical and laboratory professionals are being stumped by this virus strain. The prevention and cure of Covid-19 should be a unifying focus our of prayers, thoughts, and other resources, however. Today our comforts in a trying time are the central issue for most of us. Life must go on, and we're allergic to others telling us what to do, especially the government. We're a little resistant. We want to do our thing.
For me, the focus of this hour is the safety of our families and fellow citizens. Scripture advises that everything we do be done for the glory of God. But, the safety of our people and prevention of the contagion should be our unified focus. In my heart we should willingly step away from meeting as a church for the sake of these corporate goals.
We should have the passion to keep us focused.