When the days drew near for [Jesus] to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. Luke 9:51
The Pixar film Up tells the story of Carl, an aged widower, and Russell, a young scout, who end up on an adventure together where they meet up with a lovable talking dog, named Dug. The most memorable part of the story though is how easily Dug the dog is distracted by squirrels. Repeatedly, the chatty dog’s conversation is interrupted by the sight of another pesky squirrel.
In St. Luke’s Gospel, there is a change in tone with 9:51 where Jesus “set his face to go to Jerusalem.” While previously, Jesus ministry had been devoid of any obvious plan beyond teaching and showing mercy to those in need, this marks the shift in Jesus’ mission as He heads toward Jerusalem and the cross that would await Him there. Nothing would distract or deter Jesus from carrying out His mission to rescue and redeem God’s wayward children by offering Himself on the altar of the cross. As St. Paul would write in Philippians 2, “he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” Neither the crowds’ adulation, nor the disciples’ petty squabbles, would prevent Jesus from taking the path appointed for Him.
We are far more like Dug the dog. We are easily distracted by many things that get in the way of God’s appointed path for us to hold His Word sacred. As Jesus continued His journey to Jerusalem, He went to Bethany, just two miles away, to visit the home of Mary and Martha. Jesus began to teach, but Martha was “distracted with much serving.” How often we have been like Martha and our attention has been occupied by many things that take our focus away from Jesus. It would be easy for a time such as this that we could have our eyes fixed not on Jesus but the cares and worries of this world. What a comfort it is to know that nothing would distract or deter Jesus from His mission to save us by taking our place on the cross. My prayer is that we would not be distracted by squirrels or shiny objects or anything else that would divert attention away from Christ. Rather, may we focus on the one thing needful – Jesus and His Word.
Prayer – Almighty God, our heavenly Father, we praise and thank You that nothing would deter Your beloved Son from His path to the cross. By Your Holy Spirit, help us to not be distracted by the things of this life, but focus on the one thing needful that is Jesus Christ. In His Holy name we pray. Amen.
Fraternally in Christ,
President Lee Hagan