And when he had thus spoken, he went before, ascending up to Jerusalem.…
He went before, ascending up to Jerusalem. "To go to Corinth" once meant to give way to dissipation. What did it mean to "go to Jerusalem"? To the Jews generally it meant to go to some sacred service, to visit the temple of Jehovah, to enter the sacred precincts where sacrifice was offered to God. To Jesus Christ, now, it meant to go on to martyrdom and to death. But still to go thither was to "go up," was to "ascend, and in his progress to that sacred city he did not lag behind, nor even walk abreast; he "went before," he showed great eagerness in that upward and most honourable path. Such was his eagerness of soul that the disciples were astonished and even awed as they beheld it (Mark 10:32); they were profoundly impressed with the ardour and intensity of his spirit: "As they followed they were afraid." We may share the Saviour's spirit of holy ardour and elevation as we tread -
I. THE PATH OF HOLY PRIVILEGE. When may we be said to be on the upward road so tar as our activities are concerned? When we are presiding? or when we are ruling? or when we are winning? or when we are rejoicing? It'-racy be so. But assuredly we are then on the way that slopes upward and heavenward when we are in the path of sacred privilege, when we are "on our way to God" - to his nearer presence, to the worship of the Holy and the True One, to communion with the righteous Lord of all, to fellowship with Christ, to gathering at his table of love, to work in his vineyard. Then are we in the high places - " in the heavenly places;" then are we engaged in an exercise of human power which is most worthy of our highest faculties and reflects dignity on our human nature; then are we "ascending" in spirit; and we do well to feel that it is not a time for slackness of speed, for exhaustion of spirit, for signs of weariness. We should show a sacred ardour, a holy eagerness, like unto him who "went before" as he ascended to Jerusalem.
II. THE WAY OF WITNESS-BEARING. To go to Jerusalem was, to our Lord, to go where he should "bear witness to the truth" (John 18:37); should bear witness by words, of which many would be utterly misunderstood, and many treated with high disdain; should bear witness by suffering, by calm, brave, patient endurance of wrong. And to do this was to go up, to ascend; as it is to-day, and will always be. Where shall we find the martyr-witnesses among mankind? Not as we look down, but as we look up - up to the very loftiest altitudes that human foot has ever trodden. Kings and statesmen walk not along such lofty, such truly celestial paths as do they who speak amid derision or suffer without flinching to attest the living truth of God. When we go forward toward self-sacrifice for Christ's sake we "ascend up" to the high places of the kingdom of God. It may well be with no faltering or lingering step, but with a free and forward movement, like him who now "went before," that we move to those sacred and noble levels.
III. THE MOUNT OF TRANSLATION. Jesus went up to Jerusalem, to Calvary, to that wondrous redeeming death which is the world's great sacrifice. We may well say that he ascended to that. That was the culminating point of his career; that not only concluded, but crowned his course. And after receiving all the light which he has shed upon it, we need not be ever speaking of death as a dark valley down which we must descend; we may rather regard it as a mount of translation up which we move. In all things physical, indeed, we descend to die; our powers become lower, our life grows less. But we walk by faith in Christ Jesus. And by faith we regard ourselves as going up to the gateway which admits to the celestial glories. In view of that which immediately afterwards awaits us, we need not lag behind; we may press forward, like our Master, as we draw toward the close, and may eagerly pass on the way which ends in death and victory. - C.
Parallel VersesKJV: And when he had thus spoken, he went before, ascending up to Jerusalem.