The beginning of the journey

In this coming 13th Sunday of Ordinary time, the gospel is taken from Luke. In yesterday’s post we explored the Elijah-motif of Luke’s narrative. Today we focus on Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem as a march toward exaltation (“to be taken up”) in fulfillment of God’s plan. The earthly journey of Jesus serves also as the framework for the progress of the church in the time after the ascension. We find ourselves on the way toward Jerusalem with the Lord. But the march to glory, as Jesus has already warned, is a path through suffering. The disciples must expect to be treated no better than the Master. The cost of Christian discipleship is clearly stated as the journey gets underway.

The theme of the journey into discipleship is well marked. Brian Stoffregen notes, in the first seven verses of the text, the Greek word poreuomai occurs five times. It is a word that means “to move, to go, to journey.” A translation of the portions of the verses where the word occurs:

  • v. 51 — he resolutely determined to journey into Jerusalem
  • v. 52 — and journeying they enter into a Samaritan village
  • v. 53 — because the destination of his journey was Jerusalem
  • v. 56 — and they journeyed into another village
  • v. 57 — and as they journeyed on the way, a certain person said to him…

In addition, the word aperchomai meaning “to go, to depart,” occurs three times:

  • v. 57 — “I will follow you wherever you go.”
  • v. 59 — “Let me go first and bury my father.”
  • v. 60 — “But you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”

Our text relates two different scenes on this journey: in the village of the Samaritans (9:51-56) and on the road between villages (9:57-62). The first event is found only in Luke. Matthew (8:18-22) has a version of the second event, but with only the first two “would-be” followers. The third is unique to Luke.  As regards the larger narrative (here to the end of Luke 18), the journey narrative will become the form upon which Luke describes what it means to be disciple to Christ.

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