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Father, set my face like flint, give me, that strength, that character, that determination, that conviction of faith that Jesus showed in His march to the Cross. We make our beginning in the Name of God the Father and in the Name of God the Son and in the Name of God the Holy Spirit and all those who have set their face like flint to serve and glorify Jesus said … AMEN!
This is the deal, we have a crowd that has decided that they have the King of Israel, the run who will run the Romans out and even more, He’s the Bread King, He’s going to feed them and heal them and bring them back to life, heck he just did that with Lazarus a few days ago. When we were in Israel at Lazarus’ tomb, it was pointed out how close his tomb, where he lived, was to Jerusalem. All of Jesus’ other healings and raisings, were done in the northern part of Palestine. As far as the shakers and movers in Jerusalem were concerned the people in the north were just huckleberries, right off the tuna trolley. They had created these crazy stories, no one but this rabble took them seriously. But remember how Jesus had waited three days after He knew Lazarus was dead? He wanted there to be no doubt, Lazarus was dead, beyond all hope. Martha had given up hope, she chastised Him; “if you had come Lazarus would be alive, why did you dwaddle, I thought you loved my brother, how could you fail us and him?” Why? Jesus wasn’t going to get into it with her, He had a plan, “His face was set like flint.” It’s interesting the use of “flint”, flint was used to start a fire, Jesus was going to start a fire. The crowd may be cheering now, but the fire was sparked and the crowd would be on fire to crucify Him five days later. The world as everyone knew it at that point, would go up in a metaphorical burst of fire and three days later Jesus would overcome the ultimate enemy death! He started to chip on that flint with Lazarus. Right under the leader’s noses. Why this dramatic resurrection of Lazarus? The other people Jesus raised had just died, so even if the stories were true, from these hayseeds, it could be explained, somehow Jesus managed to resuscitate them. So even if the stories were true and not just the imagination of some hick, they were explainable. Not so with Lazarus, he was raised right next door, the memory was fresh in the mind of everyone who mattered. It was immediately following the raising of Lazarus that the Jewish leaders met and Caiaphas had decided his prophesy needed to happen immediately, Jesus must die to save the nation, more importantly to save us and our positions so the Romans wouldn’t decide to take matters into their own hands about Jesus. Just to underline the event, chapter 12, the chapter we are reading, starts with; “ Six days before the Passover, Jesus therefore came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. So they gave a dinner for him there. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those reclining with him at the table. Mary therefore took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was about to betray him), said, “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it.” (John 12: 1-6 ESV) There it is the table is set, Jesus was making a statement without any words. He sat down to dinner with Lazarus the day before He makes His Palm Sunday entrance into Jerusalem. “Remember what I did with Lazarus? You either acknowledge who I am, because no one but God could have done that or take the worldly way out. Judas? It is now plain what he is all about. Why are you wasting all that good stuff on Jesus? We could get a lot of money for that. The passage says he said that not because he cared about money for the poor, he wanted the money for himself. Jesus said he was being anointed for his burial. You are always going to have the poor, but this is where it all comes together, starting now. Six days after this Jesus would be buried and not one of those people at this dinner, none of the disciples saw Jesus’ death coming at all. Six days later Judas would receive a nice little payoff, that was his concern, until the reality of his action hit him right in the face.
Isaiah is telling us five hundred years earlier what is going to happen on that Palm Sunday. Jesus has hit the high note, he raised Lazarus, He is being hailed by the crowd, after hiding the last few days from the Jews, He is riding into Jerusalem in triumph. We have no other evidence in the Bible that Jesus did anything but walk anywhere He had to go, but not today, He’s set this up, told His disciples where to find the donkey and what to say to its owner. He’s riding into Jerusalem in a way that everyone would understand, He’s doing it in a way that a king of his day would demonstrate that he has conquered. He has drawn the line in the sand. The Jewish leaders can accept what He has made very clear, that He is the Messiah or they can chose to fight against Him and all the players are set to play out their part.
The Key Word Study Bible explains the word “set” in the Isaiah passage the Hebrew word :~yf which means to “to committ, to determine, “The verb indicates that which God put on the earth, as noted in Genesis where God put the man and woman that He formed in the Garden of Eden. The usage of the verb in this sense indicates God’s sovereignty over all creation … The word is used in Exodus in response to an interaction between Moses and God, in which God gave a new decree and law to the Israelites (Ex 15:25). In this setting, the verb again emphasizes God’s sovereignty, His ability to establish the order of things”1 Isaiah is describing Jesus at this pivotal moment, He is setting a new order, He has stacked the deck and the outcome is going to be according to His sovereign Lordship, Jesus is deciding what will happen here and the priests, Pharisees and lawyers are playing out the parts that Jesus has put them into.
The word shame in the same verse in Isaiah is the Hebrew word vAb to put to shame, disgrace, guilt. The Jewish leaders have tried to make Jesus out to be a shameful, fool, one who is trying to convince people that He is God and He’s not, they are sure that He is a charlatan or just a naïve bumpkin. In either case a very real threat, one that they can no longer allow to live. The Key Word Study Bible explains” disgrace, guilt “as farmers with no harvest”2, that is to say that after they are through with Jesus He will have nothing to show for His efforts, His intention is to raise a great harvest and now He will be tortured, shamed, humiliated on that cross, they intend to make it so that Jesus’ world will crumble around Him.
No brothers and sisters, His face is set like flint, He has become hard, He intends to be the ignition of that fire that will consume the world of the Jewish leaders and the whole world. Those people are cheering Him now because He is the “Bread King”, the one they can make do their will, feed them, heal them. They will be crying for Him to be crucified in five days because He didn’t do their will. He did His will, they wanted bread and health, He gives them something that they don’t understand, Life and life eternal. By lighting this fire, He will be sacrificed for all of them for all of their sins, He will put them back into relationship with the Father. Those who know Jesus as Lord will know true life, now and in the resurrection. Jesus set it all up so that He would be their salvation, He would be our salvation, He would die for the sins of all mankind on that cross and would rise and defeat death three days later. For those who know Jesus as Lord, that would be their promise of eternal life.
The peace of God which passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Shalom and Amin.