Gospel Luke 9:51-62
When you are sick and distressed, when you are homebound and receive Holy Communion, when you are near death and the pastor prays with you the comforting Commendation of the Dying, when your body has been lowered into the grave — in all these situations, the last words the pastor speaks are the Aaronic Blessing, “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you” (Num 6:24–25).
What makes these words so familiar is that you are blessed with them every Sunday at the conclusion of the Divine Service, and what makes these words so significant is that the face of God is in fact the face of Christ. Our Gospel reading from St. Luke for today begins with these words in chapter nine verse 51, which says “When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem” (Lk 9:51). This little sentence is the turning point in Luke’s Gospel, for now Jesus begins the journey that will take Him to the cross. He has set His face not to show wrath but mercy. The clock is running, the time draws near when He will be taken up on the cross, and taken up out of the grave, and taken up to be with the Father.