He Went To Jerusalem

Jesus, in his work of atonement for the sins of mankind, did the most important thing for us...
he went to Jerusalem.
In this article I discuss, first, the resolute and orderly plan that Christ followed as revealed in the book of Matthew, second, how this plan demonstrates that Christ died for the sins of all mankind, and third, applications for following Christ to Jerusalem.
Christ’s Resolute and Orderly Plan
The book of Matthew begins with a detailed account of the genealogy of Christ from Abraham through Joseph, the custodial father of Christ. The genealogy of Christ recorded in Matthew can be contrasted with a second genealogy recorded in Luke which spans from Adam to Christ. Luke’s genealogy begins with Adam and so could be said to prove that Christ is the savior of mankind promised in Genesis 3:15. In this way Luke’s account is the gospel to all mankind. Matthew’s genealogy, however, begins with Abraham and so could be said to prove that Christ is the promised seed of Abraham promised in Genesis 12:7 and explained in Galatians 3:16. Thus in this way Matthew’s account is understood to be the gospel to the Jews.
The genealogy in the book of Matthew could also be described as peculiar. The genealogy is laid out in a neat progression from Abraham to King David, from King David to Israel’s exile to Babylon, and from Israel’s exile to Babylon until the day of Christ. Matthew 1:17 (WEB) even explains this pattern by saying, "So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; from David to the exile to Babylon fourteen generations; and from the carrying away to Babylon to the Christ, fourteen generations."
Why did God arrange Christ’s genealogy this way? And why did the Holy Spirit, through Matthew, record Christ’s genealogy in such an organized and systematic way? I am not proposing some sort of numerology here. Numerology is a way of studying the Bible where numbers and patterns of numbers take precedence over basic Christian truth. However, I am noticing that the Holy Spirit himself called attention to this numerical pattern in Matthew 1:17. After some study and prayer I have come to the conclusion that the Holy Spirit has used the pattern in Matthew’s genealogy to organize or outline the rest of the book of Matthew.
Most people have noticed that the gospel of Matthew quotes the Old Testament more than any other gospel. This is especially fitting since Matthew is the gospel directed toward the Jews. Matthew wants to appeal to the Jews and so quotes the Old Testament which they already accept as the Word of God. Taking the time to count the number of Old Testament quotes provides at least one possible answer as to Matthew’s genealogy. Counting the number of Old Testament quotes will reveal that the Old Testament is quoted exactly 42 times from beginning to end. This is the same as the number of generations recorded in the genealogy. Again I am not proposing some sort of numerology here, but instead that the Holy Spirit freely used an interesting literary device to order Matthew’s account of the life of Christ.
Further study of the use of Old Testament quotes in the book of Matthew reveals that the life of Christ could be divided into three segments just as Matthew’s genealogy divides Israel’s history into three segments. That is there are 14 quotes of the Old Testament in the beginning, middle, and end of Matthew’s account of Jesus life. The first 14 quotes occur in chapters 1-10 from Jesus’ birth until the initial sending of the twelve. The next 14 quotes occur in chapters 10-21 from the initial sending of the twelve until Jesus enters Jerusalem. The final 14 quotes occur in chapters 21-28 from Jesus entering Jerusalem until his death, resurrection, and final commission. This progression or outline of the life of Christ could be compared with the outline of Israel’s history given in Matthew’s genealogy of Christ from Matthew chapter 1. Consider the chart below:
Israel’s history
Christ’s life
Abraham -to- King David.
One man -to- a physical nation.
Genesis - 2 Samuel.
Birth -to- sending the twelve.
One man -to- a spiritual nation.
Matthew 1-10.
King David -to- Israel’s exile.
Nation -to- exile for sin.
2 Samuel - 2 Kings.
Sending the twelve -to- Jerusalem.
Spiritual nation -to- exile for righteousness.
Matthew 10-21.
Israel’s exile -to- Christ.
Exile -to- new covenant in Christ
Post-exile prophets - Malachi.
Jerusalem -to- Resurrection.
Exile -to- new covenant in Christ.
Matthew 21-28.
So we see that these observations in the book of Matthew can be very helpful in understanding more about Christ and his relationship to Israel. We should not go beyond good Bible study principles in our conclusions from these observations. However, we do want to learn as much as we can from the things we have seen.
So let’s make a few conclusions at this point in our study. First I see the sovereignty of God at work in history and the Bible record. When I say "sovereignty" I mean that God not only knows what will happen from beginning to end, but also brings it to pass himself. Thus the parallels observed between Israel’s history and Christ’s life are not to be admired because they are coincidence, but instead they are admired because God himself brought both Israel’s history and Christ’s life to pass according to his own good will. Thus we can take great confidence that God is in control of our lives as well.
Second I see that all three persons of the godhead brought these things together in an orderly and resolute way. God ordained Israel’s history as well as the life of Christ. The Holy Spirit made use of Israel’s generations from Abraham to Christ to order the account of Christ’s life in the book of Matthew. Christ himself walked a course from birth to Jerusalem in obedience to the Father. God also did not act hastily in Israel’s history or the advent of Christ. Rather he brought it to pass according to his own plan, wisdom, and timing. Thus we can also take great confidence that not only is God in control, but he is faithful and purposeful in his own timing.
Third, I can see that the New Covenant begun by Christ does not leave the Israelite people or anyone behind. Rather Christ continues to have a great heart for his people Israel as evidenced by his final trip to Jerusalem. Christ did not begin the New Covenant in order to abandon Israel his people, but instead to save them. Thus these observations in the book of Matthew should serve to bolster our efforts to share the good news, not only with all mankind, but especially with Israel, God’s chosen people.
To Jerusalem for All Mankind
We observed that in the last third or phase of Jesus ministry recorded in the book of Matthew, chapters 21-28, Jesus made his final entrance into Jerusalem. Properly understood Jesus’ determination to face the cross in Jerusalem proves that his work of atonement is applied to all mankind with himself as head alone of the church, his purchased bride.
Jesus had many reasons not to face Jerusalem according to the flesh. If all he was concerned about was having a faithful following of a few men, Jesus already had that before his entrance to Jerusalem. Jesus had twelve disciples and more with many of them promising to follow Him even unto death. Perhaps God could simply destroy all the unfaithful and build his new nation with the disciples that had followed him so far and promised such great faithfulness? This is reminiscent of God’s dialogue with Moses in Exodus 32:9-14 when God threatened to destroy Israel for their rebellion and make a great nation of Moses alone.
Christ did not do this.
First, the vain promises of his disciples could not be trusted, for they were sinful men just as much as the Pharisees. Second, Christ did not come to die for the visible disciples alone, but also to die for the Pharisees and all mankind so that they could become disciples too. We can all thank God that Christ turned to face Jerusalem to die for the sins of mankind rather than to create one more schismatic sect of religious people. Christ’s purpose is most elegantly explained in Ephesians 2:11-22. He planned to make one new fellowship, a fellowship of the cross, with himself as the head. Praise God that through Christ we are now brothers with all believers and are freed from the bondage and impossible task of somehow proving to God and "good men" that we are better than other "sinful men."
Jesus had another reason to avoid Jerusalem, his opposition. For much of his ministry Jesus avoided and at times confronted his opposition. He was first opposed by King Herod who tried to kill him at his birth, Matthew 2:13. As an adult Jesus healed people and commanded them to tell no one so that he could continue his work without confrontation, Matthew 9:30. Later the Pharisees set out to kill him because he performed his healing works on the Sabbath, Matthew 12:14. When John the Baptist was beheaded Jesus retreated to pray, perhaps anticipating his inevitable confrontation with sinful men, Matthew 14:13. After explaining fully to his disciples that he needed to suffer and die in Jerusalem at the hands of sinful men, Peter, his own disciple, opposed him directly. "Never, Lord." Peter said in Matthew 16:21-23. Jesus responded with his sternest rebuke because not even his best disciple could stand in the way of his mission to die for the sins of mankind in Jerusalem. Later he was even transfigured into his glorious body before three disciples and told them not to tell a soul, Matthew 17:9.
With two-thirds of his ministry completed Jesus had many great successes in teaching, healing, and building a following. Perhaps Jesus could somehow complete his mission without the final confrontation with sinful man scheduled for Jerusalem? But whom would be his faithful followers since Christ was opposed by every category of men? He was opposed by the state, by the Pharisees, and by his own disciples. Instead Christ’s purpose was to endure the cross to redeem all His people, the people who opposed him. Furthermore, the sinful rebellion of these people was not merely ignorance or a mistake easily mended. The sinful rebellion of mankind required blood atonement if any were to be redeemed at all. God knows that we ourselves deserve to die cruel deaths on a cross for our sin, but Christ himself took our place on the cross. Christ resolutely set himself to Jerusalem to pay the price for mankind’s sin that we could not pay for ourselves.
Applications For Following Christ to Jerusalem
Peter planned, as did all the disciples, to follow Christ to Jerusalem. However, the disciples intended to follow Christ with a sword. They all vowed that they were prepared to die with Christ in Jerusalem. Peter himself, at the arrest of Christ, pulled out a sword and cut off the ear of the high priest’s servant. The disciples were zealous and faithful to Christ even at the very end, and yet they had no clue as to Christ’s purpose in Jerusalem.  They had zeal without knowledge. Jesus said he needed to die in Jerusalem and they imagined that they would die by His side. Peter and the disciples wanted to die for Christ, but Christ had to die for them in the heart of Jerusalem. Perhaps most simply stated, even the most zealous disciple is just like every man, a sinner in need of grace. Paul reminds us in Galatians 5:11 that the message of the cross is an offense to mankind. It says we are sinners. It says our righteousness is like a filthy rag. It says we can do nothing to amend for our sin. It says we need the blood of Jesus shed in our place or else we are eternally damned. Brother or sister in Christ, praise God that Jesus Christ has paid a debt for our sin that we could not pay. Praise God also for the fellowship we share at the cross of Jesus Christ.
One thing is clear. We cannot follow Christ to Jerusalem wearing our own righteousness, for we have none to offer. Peter and the disciples tried, but received repentance and grace instead. May God give us the grace to be true disciples and enter the new Jerusalem wearing the righteousness of Christ alone freely given to us by His grace. Now that is a place of joy unthinkable. Sinners that were doomed to damnation, but now are saved by grace and are freely given eternal peace and rest. That is a place of perfect fellowship. It is filled with sinners rejoicing together over how Jesus Christ spared their lives despite their sin and gave them every good gift.
Lord Jesus we pray that your kingdom of peace, joy, and love would come quickly to this earth and come forever.