Jesus Pivots Toward the Cross: Revelation, Transfiguration, and Mission

Texts: Luke 9:18-22, 28-36; 10:17-20; Mark 10:41-45

Days 40-43 in Around the Bible in Eighty Days.

At some point near the end of his ministry in Galilee and other northern regions, Jesus “set his face to go to Jerusalem” (Luke 9:51). This comes immediately after his announcement to his disciples that he is the Messiah and his transfiguration on the mountain. It is followed by his sending of the 70 (or 72) into the villages to proclaim the inbreaking of the reign of God and healing the diseased.

This is a turning point in the ministry of Jesus. As he pivots toward his own suffering and death (to be followed by resurrection on the third day), he reveals his identity to his disciples and announces his coming suffering, death, and resurrection. This was a private reveal, and the pivot becomes consuming as Jesus heads to Jerusalem to complete his mission.

Before he begins his journey to Jerusalem, however, he ascends a high mountain with Peter, James, and John where he spent some time in prayer. God encountered Jesus there, transfigured his body, and affirmed his identity. Though he soon would be charged, beaten, and executed, this was God’s Son and Messiah. God is as delighted in this moment as God was at his baptism.

As he left Galilee towards Jerusalem, he rebuked his disciples from stopping someone from casting out demons in the name of Jesus. He also rebuked his disciples for their anger and thirst of revenge toward a Samaritan village that had rejected Jesus. Rather than discouraged by these corrections, Jesus appointed 70 (72) different disciples (other than the 12) to go ahead of him on his journey to prepare for his arrival by preaching “The kingdom of God has come near to you.” The disciples were empowered to heal and cast out demons to accompany this message.

Their kingdom mission was an assault on the demonic powers, and every good thing they did was another defeat for Satan. In their teaching and good works, Satan fell, and every time we “do good,” Satan falls, even today.

But Jesus does not come as a military hero but one who will give his life for many as a servant. He goes to the cross voluntarily and as a servant.

“You are the Messiah,” Peter confessed. The cat is out of the bag, and this is dangerous for Jesus. He ascends a mountain to pray for strength, and God responds with a gracious promise of a victorious future. Confident in his mission, he sends disciples ahead to prepare the way for him, including undermining the power of Satan. Despite the fall of Satan, Jesus will still go to the cross as a servant for the sake of others.

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