Geography of the Soul

Geography of the Soul

Words of Faith 9-24-18

Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2018

Jeff.Hoy@faithfellowshipweb.com

Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL

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Luke 13:31-35

    At that time some Pharisees came to Jesus and said to him, "Leave this place and go somewhere else. Herod wants to kill you."

    [32] He replied, "Go tell that fox, 'I will drive out demons and heal people today and tomorrow, and on the third day I will reach my goal.' [33] In any case, I must keep going today and tomorrow and the next day for surely no prophet can die outside Jerusalem!

    [34] "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! [35] Look, your house is left to you desolate. I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, 'Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.'"

 

        Believe it or not, there were some Pharisees who were concerned for Jesus.   Some came to Jesus saying:  "Leave this place and go somewhere else. Herod wants to kill you." We often miss that in our quickness to blame one particular group or another for the death of Jesus.

        There were even some Pharisees who recognized God at work in Jesus.  Jesus once remarked that some of the Pharisees "were not far from the Kingdom of God" (Mark 12:34).  Others definitely came to faith in Jesus (Acts 15:5).  At this point, they knew what was brewing in the Sanhedrin and they knew that Herod had already killed John the Baptist.

        So Jesus replied, "Go tell that fox, 'I will drive out demons and heal people today and tomorrow, and on the third day I will reach my goal.'  In any case, I must keep going today and tomorrow and the next day for surely no prophet can die outside Jerusalem!"  Jesus made it clear that Jerusalem was not only His destination; it was His destiny.

         As Jesus was talking about Jerusalem, He was deeply moved.  "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! Look, your house is left to you desolate. I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, 'Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.'"

         It is interesting that in the midst of the journey Jesus paused to reflect so deliberately upon where He was going and what it would mean to go there. Perhaps if Jesus "took pause" to reflect, then we should too.  Think for a moment of the places Jesus had been on this journey. These represent powerful locations spiritually in our own journey of Faith, a sort of geography of the soul that marks our journey with God. 

       First there was NAZARETH.  Remember the hometown of Jesus where He announced His ministry with the words: "The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.  He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor" (Luke 4:18-19). Nazareth was a homey place of childhood prayers and loving relationships, but He was rejected there. It was a place that Jesus disturbed with the call to embrace the Kingdom of God.  The people were so disturbed that they drove Jesus to the edge of town ready to take his life. 

        Remember CAPERNAUM?  After Jesus was rejected, He did not miss a beat.  He went straight to Capernaum and began to heal, preach and teach.  A great revival broke out.  This was where Jesus called His disciples.  There were big crowds and a lot of excitement.  These were remembered as the "glory days" when thousands were fed and hundreds were healed in a day.

       CAESAREA PHILIPPI was where Jesus withdrew to get away from the crowds. Far to the north, this was a place of contemplation. This was where Jesus asked, who do men say that I am?  And more important: Who do you say that I am?  This was a place to make a commitment beyond the crowds and make faith solid.

       From there Jesus went to the MOUNT OF TRANSFIGURATION.  This was a place of clear vision.  This was where three disciples caught a vision of who Jesus really was and what was ahead.  It was a place of transforming clarity. From this place Jesus set His face resolutely toward Jerusalem making His journey through the valley.

       THE VALLEY was a place of real world ministry.  This was where people heard Kingdom principles for real life.  It was a place of many attacks.  Forces were at work against the progress of God's message.  We learn a lot about the Kingdom of God not just from the words but from the action and focus of Jesus.  The valley led to Jerusalem.

        JERUSALEM was where it all came together.  Jerusalem was where the people actually said: "Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord" as He entered. But Jesus knew the people were looking for something else-- a military Messiah or political Savior.  Jerusalem was actually a place of enormous disappointment.  This was a powerful political and religious city that chewed prophets up and spit them out without a thought. But Jesus would not be dissuaded. 

         Jerusalem was not a place for comfortable ministry.  In Jerusalem we may even long for the simplicity of Nazareth or the glory days of the Capernaum revival. Things grew increasingly tragic in Jerusalem.  It was a powerfully emotional place where many prophets had died.  This was where Jesus went before His Father and pleaded while sweating great drops of blood.  "If there is some other way...  Nevertheless not my will but Thy will be done.” 

        Jerusalem was where Jesus gathered the Disciples to somehow say goodbye, knowing already that one would betray Him.  This was where the suffering would take place.  This was where He would be falsely accused, tried in the night, rushed to the whip, spat upon, beaten and finally forced to carrying a rough beam to the place called "the skull.”  Jerusalem was where Jesus confronted all that was wrong with us and paid the price to make everything right.

         Is it any wonder that Jerusalem brought tears to the eyes of Jesus on more than one occasion? But Jerusalem was also the place where atonement would take place and real peace would finally be won.  Resurrection would burst forth into creation.  It was not a comfortable place.  It was not like the glory days in Capernaum.  It was not even like the striving in the Valley.  Jerusalem was where Jesus met His destiny to die for the sins of the whole world and it is where we receive that gift. 

       Jesus paused to reflect upon where He was in the Journey and where He was going.  Shouldn't you and I do the same?  Where are you today in this journey of faith?  Where are you today in the geography of your soul? 

       Are you in NAZARETH?   Nazareth is where we start the journey.  It is a homey place of familiarity and comfort where we hang onto the things we grew up with.  It is not a bad place, but it is a place that we grow beyond. It is not a bad faith, but it may be a childish faith that we need to relinquish to the larger call of God.  It is definitely a place that Jesus disturbs.  It is a place where He calls us to move forward.  Not everyone will respond well when Jesus disturbs their Nazareth.  Some will drive Jesus to the edge of town but once He has disturbed your Nazareth you can never go back.  We have no record that Jesus ever returned to minister in Nazareth.  This is a place of comfortable family faith and childhood prayers.  But Jesus announces that the Spirit of the Lord drives us out of our comfortable places to bring good news to the poor, proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind.

        Perhaps you are in CAPERNAUM the place where we stand in the crowds that are drawn to Jesus.  This is a place where we first stand in personal awe of power of Jesus.  We hear teaching that is so true that it resonates immediately with our souls.  It is a happy place.  There is great joy in response to the things that Jesus does.  But we can get stuck in Capernaum. These are the glory days.  There is the excitement of the crowd.  We can get stuck here always remembering when things were so exciting, but the journey moves on.  Jesus goes on and the journey doesn't go backwards.  If you are waiting for the glory days to come back, you will be disappointed. 

         You may find yourself at CAESAREA PHILIPPI.  It is a place where we withdraw to contemplate and decide. It is a place where we make clear our doctrine.  Jesus is the Christ, the son of the Living God.  This is the place where we make our profession of faith.  It is where we accept Jesus as the Lord of all creation and make our doctrine solid.  But here too we must move on.  We need vision as well as a profession of faith.  We need action as well as doctrine. Some settle in at Caesarea Philippi by declaring their faith and creed but never move past that point.  Jesus moves us on from here.

         You may find yourself at the place of TRANSFIGURATION.  It is a place of great rapture before God.  Here we see thing as they really are. It is the place of inexpressible closeness to God but we cannot stay there.  We cannot build Tabernacles or shelters on the mountaintop experience.  We cannot remain on the high place seeking only experiential thrills.  Jesus moves us on.

         THE VALLEY is where we face hard realities as we see God is at work.  It can get tough in the valley but the Kingdom of God is taught and is manifest.  But we cannot stay here either. Some get stuck in the grit of the valley and never realize that there is another destination. They get cynical about life and the church and the way people let you down.  This is a time when miracles are few and it is hard to believe.  Attack after attack comes against you.  This is not a good place to stay.  Jesus knew that.

         No.  We must move on to a place called Jerusalem.  This is where it all comes together. 

         We surrender everything in Jerusalem.  The name Jerusalem means a place of peace. Here we surrender all our Palm Sunday expectations.  We surrender all our ideas about God and how He will serve us.  We surrender our religious practices and motives and even some of our theological constructs.  We surrender our will and say, "Nevertheless, not my will, but Thy will."  We surrender to the way of the cross.  We see a man bloodied by the journey.  We had hoped to see the Messiah on the white horse and say, "Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord." But we surrender to God's way in Jerusalem.

          In Jerusalem, we surrender to the forgiveness that He brings. We surrender to God that person we thought we could never forgive or that event we thought we could never forget.  These are overwhelmed by the One who could watch with forgiveness in His eyes as soldiers gamble for the tunic His mother made for Him.  And as she weeps, He prays, "Father forgive them.”  We surrender to the only way of salvation: the atoning death of Jesus.  We surrender to the only thing left that makes any sense: The resurrection life that He gives. 

          Where are you today?  Are you stuck?  In Nazareth?  Capernaum?  Caesarea Philippi?  The Mountain top?  The gritty valley?   Our destiny is Jerusalem.  Our destiny surrender.  Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.

 

          O God, may I discover You and surrender to You in the Jerusalem of my soul today.  In the precious name of Jesus.  Amen.