"Then rest, poor soul,
He bids you rest,
Nor tremble at the dread tomorrow;
Lean on Your Savior's willing breast,
And you shall know no care nor sorrow
No longer trust your tottering limb,
But cast your burdens all on Him
Who set His face to tread the blood-stained path,
And without murmur drained His Father's cup of wrath."

"As the time approached for Him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem." Luke 9:51

There must always be a feeling of sadness in bidding farewell to a place where we have long sojourned, and with which is interweaved many hallowed associations—the scenes of sunny childhood—the hills on which we gazed—the stream which murmured tranquilly by the parental home—the kind looks, and kind hearts, and kind words which throw a halo more sacred still around the dwelling of our early youth.

Jesus, being Man, participating in all the tenderest sensibilities of our nature, could not be altogether a stranger to similar emotions. He is now about to bid farewell to scenes and localities with which for thirty-three years of a mysterious life He had been familiar. The last three of these, though saddened, as we have seen in the former Chapter, by unbelief and impenitence, were yet linked with loving and momentous memories. His words and deeds were embalmed in grateful remembrance in many a town and fishing hamlet of Gennesaret. The dying, the dead, the sick, the blind, the halt, the lame, had learned to revere Him as a Great Prophet, a generous Philanthropist, a faithful Friend. The very children loved to follow Him—to listen to His simple teachings, and to lisp His sacred name. If He refused the offer of a crown, He was king in ten thousand hearts; and heavily would the tidings have fallen on many, had they known the truth, that this Great and Gracious Redeemer was about to depart from Galilee, never again, except for the briefest of interviews, to return!

If it is sad, even with bright prospects before us, to bid adieu to a home such as I have described, how are these feelings of sadness augmented when that departure is accompanied with gloomy forebodings, too truthful presentiments of evil and sorrow?—the knowledge that there is but a step between the hallowed home-hearth and the chilling blasts of a wintry unbefriending world? When the hand of death has entered a household, and the widow and her orphans are forced adrift amid bleak scenes and stinted comforts, who (save those who have felt it) can describe the fond lingering look turned to the old dwelling, listening for the last time to the murmur of its brook, the sunlight glancing amid the quivering leaves, under whose shadow childhood has often loved to repose! The youth leaves a father's roof under any circumstances with a drooping spirit. But how are his regrets embittered when he knows that he is entering on a rough and rugged path, about to exchange gentle looks and kind smiles—for frowns, reproach, cold neglect, and insolent scorn!

What—if we dare compare human feelings with those of Jesus—what must have been His emotions in leaving now the home-scenes of Galilee and Gennesaret under the tremendous consciousness of the trial-hour awaiting Him? What must have been His thoughts, as for the last time He stands near some spot where the Jordan, issuing from the lake, resumes its impetuous course, and, taking His farewell glimpse of the scenes of His ministry and miracles, He hastens onwards to the climax of His life of woe? But He trembles not—flinches not—falters not! His resolution is taken! With a HEROISM unparalleled in the world's history, He seems, in words He afterwards uttered, to be longing for the hour of conflict and victory—"There is a terrible baptism ahead of me, and I am under a heavy burden until it is accomplished!" In this Festival Journey, how diverse the thoughts and experiences of the multitudes—the Disciples—their Lord!

The multitudes could participate in no such saddening farewells. These feast-days periodically recurring, formed to them the most joyous events of the year—holiday times, all whose associations were mirth and gladness; happy occasions for friends meeting friends at the distant capital, and uniting together in the worship of their fathers' God and their own! On ordinary occasions these feelings would have been also shared by the disciples. It was different, however, now. They had recently been receiving mysterious and significant intimation from their Beloved Master of a terrible crisis impending—how He "must go up to Jerusalem" to suffer, to be rejected, and crucified. Their feelings are thus powerfully and graphically described by Mark—

They were now on the way to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking ahead of them. The disciples were filled with dread and the people following behind were overwhelmed with fear. Taking the twelve disciples aside, Jesus once more began to describe everything that was about to happen to him in Jerusalem. "When we get to Jerusalem," he told them, "the Son of Man will be betrayed to the leading priests and the teachers of religious law. They will sentence him to die and hand him over to the Romans. They will mock him, spit on him, beat him with their whips, and kill him, but after three days he will rise again." Mark 10:32-34

How strange, that notwithstanding such an announcement as this, the bearing of Him who uttered it should be so calm, so magnanimous!—that instead of shrinking at these dreadful shadows that were now projected on His path, He should commence from Galilee that "Dolorous way," terminated by the crown of thorns and the bitter tree, with tearless eye and unhesitating step; and that the Evangelist has to give, as the closing record of this portion of His Gennesaret life—"As the time approached for Him to be taken up to heaven, He resolutely set out for Jerusalem."

Let us endeavor to ponder one or two reasons which among others must have served to strengthen and sustain the Savior in setting out on this momentous journey—in other words, the causes of a resolution and magnanimity so remarkable, with a crisis so appalling at hand.

I. He was cheered by the consciousness that in now going to Jerusalem He was fulfilling the will of His Father.

This great idea, this elevated motive, was ever paramount with Him—the impelling power in every thought, word, and deed—"My food is to do the will of Him that sent me." There was an hour appointed by the Father for the consummating of His work on earth. That hour, no bribe, no threat, could tempt Him either to anticipate or evade. A short while before, some worldly, time-serving "kinsmen" urged Him to proceed without delay to Jerusalem, seizing the opportunity of unbounded popularity to claim the Throne of David, and assert His claims to the Messiahship, "Leave here, and go into Judea, that Your disciples also may see the works that You do. If You do these things, show Yourself to the world." His answer was meek and gentle, yet tempered with righteous severity, "My time has not yet come, but your time is always ready." "There is no restriction laid upon your time, and even if there were, you would not be willing to attend to it, if worldly prudence or advancement dictated otherwise. But it is otherwise with ME. A great WILL above regulates my every movement; I cannot and shall not by one hair's-breadth deviate from the path that WILL has prescribed."

But the moment had at length arrived which the Father had appointed for the Great Sacrifice. Daniel's "seventy weeks" of years were on the eve of "accomplishment;" and, in obedience to that Higher WILL, He prepares to depart. The hour strikes which had been waited for by all time, "and He sets his face steadfastly to go to Jerusalem!"

Here is the secret of moral strength in encountering our seasons of trial and difficulty—the conviction that our times are in the hands of God; thus leading to complete and entire subordination of our wills to His. How it would disarm affliction and bereavement of their bitterest stings if we were enabled to give as the history of our darkest dispensations, "This is my heavenly Father's will!" The hour has come—the hour appointed by loving Wisdom. "The world's time is anytime;" their trials are called "misfortune;" "untoward accident;" "wayward calamity." But the Christian, like his Lord, is able to view every occurrence as emanating from a Hand of infinite love, a Mind of infinite foreknowledge, and a Will of infinite faithfulness. Every phase in his history—every step in his pilgrimage—its most trifling incidents and circumstances—are Divinely appointed. Feeling that he is under this kind and gracious guardianship, he resolves his own will into the will of The Supreme! All that concerns him and his are parts of a vast harmonious plan. The future (mazy, dark, mysterious,) is fully known to One who sees the end from the beginning—educing good out of seeming evil—order out of apparent confusion. Even when a cross (a shadow of his Lord's) looms gloomily on his path, he breathes with unmurmuring lips, "Even so, Father!" and sets his face steadfastly to endure his baptism of suffering and blood!

II. Another reflection which would, doubtless, sustain Jesus in this farewell hour, would be the thought of past fidelity and devotedness in His great work.

How faithful, how devoted, the great Redeemer was during these brief but eventful years of residence within and around Capernaum, we have often had occasion to note; from His first utterance in its Synagogue, as the anointed Preacher of glad tidings, down to the hour here spoken of, when He took His last view of Galilee, and proclaimed to its cities, and to the world, those healing words on which His own death was now to impress an untold significancy and value—"The Son of Man is come to save that which was LOST!"

We found, in a former chapter, how His weary human nature often sank under physical exhaustion, gladly snatching a few hours of sleep, as best He could, on the planks of a rough fishing-vessel, or on the brow of the midnight mountain. His was the ceaseless activity of holy work; curing physical maladies; expounding heavenly truths; pointing the weak and weary—the burdened and backsliding—the neglectful and the lost—to that wondrous salvation He was sent from heaven to purchase and proclaim. "Never a man spoke"—never a man toiled and labored, wept and prayed like this Man! Yes, the consciousness that He had been enabled to fulfill His God-like work with such unwearying devotedness, could not fail mightily to uphold His spirit when about to confront more terrible experiences—"the hour and power of darkness."

Let us ask, How is it with us? In the prospect of the time when we too are to be "received up"—that moment which sooner or later awaits us all—when our spirits shall wing their flight from an irreparable past into a changeless future—can we anticipate or meet it with the joyous humble hope, "I have not lived in vain—my work is done—I have served my God—I have been for long reposing on the merits of that blessed Redeemer—I have sought to spend existence under the sovereignty of the lofty motive to please Jesus!" Or, alas! is it with us, as with many; Christians in name, but whose lives are a mournful blank? If they have love to God; it is a fruitless love; if they have faith in Christ, it is a faith without works"—withered, sapless, unproductive, dead!

Reader, if you would seek, when the last Messenger comes, to receive his summons with calm composure and tranquil joy—live now to God! Study, as your model, that lovely Life we have been tracing in its three most momentous years—that "Rose of Sharon," as it bloomed and blossomed on the shores of Tiberias. Let its tints and fragrance follow you to your homes, your closets, your places of business, your scenes of enjoyment. Let all your daily thoughts, words, actions, be molded and regulated by the inquiry, "How would Jesus have acted here?" As activity, in His Father's work, was the great law of His being, make it also yours. "Lo, I come, I delight to do Your will, O my God," was His utterance when, (pillowed in that bosom of everlasting love), the Redemption plan was first proposed to Him. Sacredly did He fulfill His high resolve, from the moment He entered our world as the Babe of Bethlehem, until, with the voice of a Conqueror, He could proclaim—"I have glorified You on the earth, I have finished the work which You gave me to do."

Like Him, too, "work while it is called today." His appointed period for active energy on earth was short—three brief years included it all. Your probation time may not be longer; it may not be so long. Ah! "the night is coming when no man can work." Think, before it is too late, how terrible to be confronted by Death, all unfit and unprepared to die—the oil not bought—the lamps flickering—hours wasted—opportunities neglected—an unprovided-for eternity lying at your door!

If tonight the angel-messenger were to deliver his command—"The time has come for you to be received up;" could you, with the joyful alacrity of your Lord, set your face steadfastly to meet the great struggle-hour of nature? could you adopt the words uttered from the noblest of deathbeds—"As for me, my life has already been poured out as an offering to God. The time of my death is near. I have fought a good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness that the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on that great day of his return." 2 Tim. 4:6-8

III. Jesus willingly "set His face to go to Jerusalem" and accomplish His decease, when He thought of the glory that was to follow.

If His last utterance, at this time, in sight of Gennesaret was, that His mission as the Son of Man was "to save the lost," what a theme was this with which to nerve His soul in the prospect of that dreadful baptism!—"THE LOST," who by these sufferings would be reclaimed—the countless myriads whose robes, through that blood-shedding, should through eternity be made white!

At that eventful moment His omniscient eye must have had mapped out before it all terrible realities of Gethsemane's Garden and Calvary's Cross—every thorn of the crown—every mark of the nails—every gash of the spear. But if such was the dark foreground in the earthly picture, there was a bright and glorious background—the perspective of a palm-bearing multitude of triumphant victors. For the joy that was thus set before Him He "endured." He beheld, in this transporting vista-view, myriads who must otherwise have become monuments of inexorable Justice in the dark prison-house of despair, made everlasting pillars in the temple of God, saved by His bleeding love and mercy. Oh, when He thought of that goodly harvest which was to be reaped—a harvest of which His blood was the costly seed; when He estimated that revenue of glory which, by means of His cross and passion, should, through everlasting ages, roll in to the triune God, He willingly turned His back on the peaceful homes and hamlets of Galilee, fearlessly to confront the hour of His own tragic sufferings.

Is ours the same joy? does this cheer us under all the trials to which we may now be subject—does it nerve and sustain us in the thought of death itself—that soon the night-songs are to melt into the praises of eternity—the night-shadows to merge in the glories of unending day? Amid the light afflictions of the present, are we keeping in view the bliss which is hereafter to be revealed; forgetting the tossings of the intervening ocean, in the prospect of the quiet haven and the everlasting rest?

The earthly father, going to a foreign land to provide for his dependent family, is cheered amid all the difficulties and privations which may beset him, with the thought of again rejoining them—that after a brief struggle in an uncongenial region, he will be back again amid cheerful faces and joyous welcomes. Shall we not willingly submit to any loss, any cross our gracious God sees fit to appoint us, if we can exult in the well-founded hope of a blissful future—a glorious immortality, where these very losses and crosses will be found to turn into eternal gain? Let the sweet chimes, coming floating on our ears from the towers of the New Jerusalem, cheer our spirits and quicken our languid footsteps. Let us set our faces towards there; and though we may have our Kedron-brooks and Gethsemanes of bitter sorrow now, let us think of the sinless, sorrowless, tearless heaven beyond, where these shall never more be known or dreaded!

And now, in conclusion, let us ask, Are we ready for Death?—do the words of this passage fall on our ears as a truthful, a beautiful description of the "inevitable hour," the time when we are to be "received up?" How many are there to whom every thought of dissolution is strangely different—to whom death is the most harrowing of prospects—a dark portico at whose shadow they tremble—a Grim Monarch, whose very name carries with it terror and dismay? No wonder that it is so, if you are content to live in guilty unreadiness for its advent—if your peace is to this hour not made with God—if you are squandering existence without one thought of Hell or Heaven.

But if it is otherwise—if you have fled to Jesus, the Sinner's Savior and the Sinner's Friend—if you have personally appropriated all the benefits of His purchase, and are living by faith on the Son of God, who loved you and gave Himself for you, then is the King of Terrors disarmed of his might—he is an unsceptered and crownless monarch—and when you anticipate that solemn hour when he is to make inquisition at the house of your earthly tabernacle, you need no longer think of it with dread—you may rather associate it with descending angels and ministering saints smoothing your pillow, and waiting as a celestial convoy to "receive you up."

Yes, I again say, Beautiful figure! It speaks of death as an hour of emancipation and triumph. Up to that moment you are, like the fettered eagle, chained down in the earthly cage; but a Messenger comes from the Spirit-world, snaps the encumbering bond, that you may soar a free-born citizen to your true home in the skies!

That time must before long arrive when you shall be called to die. Are you so living, that you could bid a joyful farewell to your pilgrim warfare and joyfully enter on your pilgrim rest? If you cannot yet contemplate unappalled that final hour—if you are still living at a conscious distance from God, eternity unprepared for, your soul unsaved—delay no longer repairing to Him who alone can give you peace; and, as you hear Jesus proclaiming the grand focus truth of His Gospel—the Son of Man has come to save the lost—as one of the lost accompany Him in this His final journey to Jerusalem—go with Him to His cross! gaze on His bleeding wounds! His dying agonies!—see what He did to save you and such as you! As you listen to His expiring cry, "It is finished!"—remember its comforting accents were meant to reach your souls.

Do not think that Jerusalem towards which He calls you to set your face is a prize beyond your reach! He has flung open its portals for you. Having overcome the sharpness of death, has opened the Kingdom of Heaven to all believers. Ah! were the procuring of that Heaven dependent on yourself, then you might well despond and despair. But He is "the Way, the Truth, the Life"—"By Me if any man enter in he shall be saved!" It is because His face was set to the Earthly Jerusalem that the Heavenly has unbarred its gates to you! He Himself, by His doing and dying, has let down the patriarch's typical ladder; by it, you are invited to enter within the gates into the city. Relying on Him who has thus "abolished death and brought life and immortality to light," you can, like your Lord, set out on the final Journey, saying, with the cross beside you and the crown above you, "Into Your hand I commend my spirit; for You have redeemed me, O Lord God of truth."