Today’s passage is Luke 12:22-35 (ESV):
The Narrow Door
22 He went on his way through towns and villages, teaching and journeying toward Jerusalem. 23 And someone said to him, “Lord, will those who are saved be few?” And he said to them, 24 “Strive to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able. 25 When once the master of the house has risen and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, open to us,’ then he will answer you, ‘I do not know where you come from.’ 26 Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets.’ 27 But he will say, ‘I tell you, I do not know where you come from. Depart from me, all you workers of evil!’ 28 In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God but you yourselves cast out. 29 And people will come from east and west, and from north and south, and recline at table in the kingdom of God. 30 And behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.”
Lament over Jerusalem
31 At that very hour some Pharisees came and said to him, “Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you.” 32 And he said to them, “Go and tell that fox, ‘Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I finish my course. 33 Nevertheless, I must go on my way today and tomorrow and the day following, for it cannot be that a prophet should perish away from Jerusalem.’ 34 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! 35 Behold,your house is forsaken. And I tell you, you will not see me until you say,‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!’”
“Where are you going this spring break?” Pre-departure, this question was likely posed to you countless times. Post-arrival at your destination, the question becomes, “Where are you coming from?” These questions, like today’s passage, emphasize the significance of physical place.
For Jesus, the answers to the questions “Where are you coming from? Where are you going?” are easy: He is coming from God the Father, and he is going to Jerusalem. The city of Jerusalem, a physical place, seems to frame the entire passage. Luke mentions it by name in the very first verse, while the other “towns and villages” remain nameless, anonymous. Later in the passage, Jesus does not leave his current (anonymous) location because of Herod’s desire to kill him but only because he needs to continue his journey to Jerusalem. The passage ends with Jesus’s lament over Jerusalem, in which Jesus addresses the city directly, in the second person. In terms of places, the passage seems to imply that Jerusalem is God’s will for Jesus’s life.
While the importance and sacredness of Jerusalem to Christianity cannot be overstated, as it is the city in which Jesus experiences his passion, death, and resurrection, one must remember that the city is only the destination of Jesus’s earthly journey. His true destination is in Heaven, seated at the right hand of God, the Father.
“Where” is God’s will for our lives? For our earthly lives, maybe God is calling us to a certain physical place, a certain career, marriage, a family, religious life, or some other earthly place or vocation. Yet, ultimately, God desires that we, like Jesus, “recline at table in the kingdom of God.” Our true destination is Heaven. Our earthly destination is only a means of one day arriving at our true destination in Heaven.
If God intends the same true destination for all of our lives, then does it matter “where” we are coming from? “Where” we are coming from, our physical origins, do not matter so much to God, for “People will come from the east and the west and from the north and the south and will recline at table in the kingdom of God.” What does matter to God is knowing “where” we are coming from. By building a relationship with God, we allow ourselves to know Him, we let Him know where we are coming from. In the parable Jesus tells, the master of the house does not allow certain people to enter the house, because he does not know where they are from. Even though these people claim to have eaten and drunk in the master’s company and are aware that the master taught in their streets, they never actually formed a relationship with the master. As a result, the master does not know where they are coming from. How, then can we build a relationship with God, the master? How can we let Him know where we are coming from? How can we come to enter into the kingdom of God, the master’s house? We can do these things by living a life of faith.
It is not in merely arriving at Jerusalem, his earthly destination, that Jesus lives a life of faith. Rather, much of his life of faith consists of his journey to Jerusalem. The vast majority of his public ministry occurs before he arrives in the city; it occurs on his journey.
While we have hopefully arrived by now to our spring break destinations, however near or far they are from campus, we, as college students, probably have not yet arrived at the places we see as our final earthly destinations, our Jerusalems. And there are days when our earthly destinations seem far off, maybe even unreachable. It is on those days that we should remind ourselves of two things. First, we are on our journeys to our earthly destinations, and, by living lives of faith each day of our journeys, we will inevitably arrive at the earthly destinations that God has in mind. Second, and more importantly, our earthly destinations are just that: earthly. They are not the end. They are not the one true destination. That distinction belongs only to Heaven.
Marina Spinelli ’18 is a Human Evolutionary Biology concentrator living in Eliot House.