Have you ever been reading a book and are coming close to the end…all of the plot points are running full steam ahead toward a resolution that is jam packed into the final ten pages? The tension is palatable as everything comes to light, consequences for earlier choices are dolled out, and characters are changed? I love a good book of this sort, but truthfully, it’s a wee bit stressful for me. I start counting final pages, knowing things have to be sorted by the end. I start whispering unheard notes to the author that time is running out, 12 pages left, issues need to be resolved, hurry, hurry. I even start pacing the room as I read. Though I’m sure you just love to hear about my stressful reading habits (or not), there is a reason I share this with you. If we slow down and read today’s passage, not as a familiar chapter we’ve ready many times, but rather with a contemplative heart, Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem has a very similar feel to these types of books. He’s traveling along with his friends and disciples–preaching, teaching, healing–all while His opposition is mounting. He begins calling God’s people to repent, to search their hearts and realize their sins are no less than the gentiles. He warns of God’s coming judgement, that the door for repentance will soon close. He knows where His journey will lead and that time is of the essence. During this journey some rejoiced and followed Him, but many held stubbornly to their pride and hypocrisy.
Now we as we live with the great commission calling us to make the most of our days on this earth, sharing the gospel with all people, do we feel this same tension? This desire to repent and seek God’s glory? Or are we stubbornly living in opposition thinking surely our sins are small and God’s mercy is great? I pray we take time to search our hearts as Jesus called God’s people to do so long ago, that we use our time wisely–loving our neighbors and following Jesus.