The Final Turn: Meditation for the Sixth Sunday of Lent

home exitDo you know the feeling? I mean the feeling of taking your home exit off the freeway after a long journey. You are finally turning toward home. You can park in your own garage, eat your own food, sleep in your own bed, shower in your own shower, and nap in your own recliner. The tension of traveling begins to relax.

For those of you who have followed me these past few weeks, we have been using Luke’s Gospel to travel with Jesus to Jerusalem, the final journey to the cross. Luke presents this as an extended journey, surely exhausting for Jesus. At one point Jesus admits, “The Son of Man has no place to lay his head” (Luke 9:58). This was not even couch surfing, but sometimes sleeping rough, outdoors, for the Lord.

You might be thinking, how could going to Jerusalem be going home? The cross and a horrible death awaited Jesus in Jerusalem. No one should desire that! But remember as we started this journey, Jesus set his face like flint to go to Jerusalem. Perhaps it wasn’t just the cross that drew him to the holy city. Surely he saw beyond it and knew it was just a matter of days for him to be returned to his Father in heaven.

The last turn for a Galilean pilgrim on the way to Jerusalem for Passover would normally be the south end of the Jordan River valley at the oasis city of Jericho. From there, the road to Jerusalem loomed, a climb of over 3,500 feet in about 18 miles. Sometimes, when you are driving home, that final stretch of freeway seems the hardest, the longest. Yet home awaits, and we don’t want to stop. We want to get home.

Blind BartimeusAs Jesus comes to this final Jericho turn, he is accosted by a blind man whose daily existence consisted of begging by the side of the road. He hears that Jesus is passing by and understands it is a carpe diem moment for him. He calls out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” He is asking to be healed, to receive the mercy of God for his miserable life. What will Jesus do? Surely he wants to get home!

A little later, as Jesus enters Jericho, he encounters Zacchaeus, a “wee little man” who has climbed a tree to see the famous rabbi traveling zacchaeusto Jerusalem. Zacchaeus, a wealthy outcast in his city, needs Jesus as much as the poverty-bound blind man. We would think that the urgency of Jesus’ journey would mean there is no time for this tax collector. What will Jesus do?

Luke tells us that Jesus heals the blind man and goes to the home of Zacchaeus to redeem this hated “son of Abraham.” Jerusalem can wait a little. Jesus has time for those who need him. The journey can be as important as the final destination.

Holy Week is upon us. Today is Palm Sunday, the celebration of Jesus’ entrance into his city of destiny. In the midst of these momentous events, don’t think Jesus has forgotten you. Speak with him and he will be listening. Ask for his mercy and he will bless you. Look for him and he will come to your home and bless you.

Prayer: May we prepare our hearts for Good Friday, the day of Jesus’ death, and Resurrection Sunday, the morning of his true triumphal entry from death to life. Let us not stumble through this week without taking time each day to remember Jesus. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, may you have mercy on us!

Mark Krause
Nebraska Christian College

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