About 2,000 years ago a young man walked into the history books when he led his army on a 1,000 mile march from Greece all the way to India. If you wanted to travel that far in the US, you would have to travel from here to Milwaukee. Then you would have to get home again. This march wasn’t just impressive because it was so long but because it was unstoppable. Alexander didn’t just travel over 1,000 miles he fought his way. There was not a foe that could stop him. The only reason he didn’t go farther was that his soldiers became homesick and wanted to go back to Greece.
Alexander’s march was far-reaching in another way; some 2,300 years later it still affects us today. That’s remarkable when you consider the fact that Alexander never set foot in the United States. What happened was that he took the Greek culture and language wherever he went. The result was that it became the standard for the world much like English culture has today. Many of the words we use, like biology, philosophy, telephone, and microscope. Signs of the Greek culture can be found in almost every aspect of our life, from architecture to government. What’s even more impressive is that Alexander did all this by the age of 33. That’s why he is called Alexander the Great.
A little over 300 years after Alexander the Great died another remarkable 33 year old embarked on a march. Like Alexander’s march this one was unstoppable. While it was not nearly so long as Alex’s (only about 90 miles), it was far more important and far more difficult. It was the march or journey Jesus took from Galilee to Jerusalem and then on to the cross on Calvary.
As Jesus made his way from Galilee to Jerusalem for the last time, something unusual happened. We are told by Luke that the Pharisees told Jesus to leave Galilee for Jerusalem for Herod wanted to kill him. Herod and the Pharisees would get their shot at Jesus soon enough but not until Jesus was ready. He told the Pharisees “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.”
Jesus’ goal was to head to Jerusalem. He says, “In any case, I must keep going today and tomorrow and the next day – for surely no prophet can die outside Jerusalem.” Each step he took brought him one step closer to the city where he would die.
So why did Jesus say he was going, “must go,” to Jerusalem. He was going there to die. We know the answer. It was his love for us sinners, his love for the lost. That’s why Jesus was marching to Jerusalem. Jesus knew what was going to happen. He knew the hatred that awaited him there. He knew all about the humiliation he would face. He understood the painful way he would die. He knew that his Father in heaven would heap on him the sins and guilt of all humanity. He knew the Father’s wrath would be poured out on his as well and he would endure the pain and torment of hell. Yet, Jesus kept going, going to Jerusalem and the cross. So great was his love for fallen mankind that he “must go” to the cross. Only then could his mission, the salvation of souls, be complete.
God’s love for you is still there. He loves us all, each and every one of us. In love he went to the cross. In love he comes to us through his Word with the message of salvation. In love he forgives our sin and gives us the gift of eternal life. Thank the Lord Jesus’ made that “march” 2,000 years ago.