Great events always send messengers ahead. There is a movement in the spirit currents. A sort of tremor of expectancy affects the finer currents of air. The more sensitively organized one is, that is to say, the more the spirit part of a man dominates body and mind, the more conscious will he be of the something coming.
Jesus was keenly conscious ahead of the coming of Calvary. Apart from the actual knowledge, there was a painful thrill of expectancy, intensifying as the event came nearer. The cross cast long, dark shadows ahead. The darkest is Gethsemane. It would be, for it was nearest. But there were other shadows before that of the olive grove. Jesus plainly reveals in His behavior, in His appearance, that He felt keenly, into the very fibre, so sensitively woven, of His being, that the experience of the cross would be a terrific one for Him. It was deliberately chosen by Him, and the time of its coming chosen in the full knowledge that it would be an awful ordeal. It would establish the earth's record for suffering, never approached before or since.
As He turns His face for the last time away from Galilee, and to Judea, it is with the calmness of strong deliberation. Yet the intenseness of the inner spirit, in its look ahead, is shown in His face, His demeanor. As He comes to a certain Samaritan village on the road south, the usual invitation to stop for rest and a bit of refreshment is withheld out of respect to His evident purpose. It is clear to these villagers that His face is set to go to Jerusalem. In Luke's striking language, |His face was going to Jerusalem.| What going to Jerusalem meant to Him had no meaning to them. They saw only that face, and were so caught by the strong, stern determination plainly written there that they felt impelled not to offer the usual hospitality.
They were Samaritans, it is true, a half-breed race, hated by Jews, and hating them, but invariably they had been friendly to Jesus. That must have been a marked face that held back these homely country people from pressing their small attentions upon Jesus. They are keener to read the meaning of that face than are these disciples who are more familiar with the sight of it. The impress already made upon the inner spirit by the great event toward which Jesus had determinedly set Himself was even thus early marked in His face.
Later, on that journey south, as the time and place are nearing, He strides along the road, with such a look in His face as makes these men, who had lived in closest touch, |amazed,| that is, awed and frightened. And as they followed behind, they were |afraid.| It is the only time it is said that the sight of His face made them afraid. Then He explains to them what is in His thoughts, with full details of the indignities to be heaped upon His person. The sternness of His purpose, perhaps not only the terrible experience of knowing sin at such close range, but, not unlikely, an anger, a hot indignation against sin and its ravages, which He was going to stab to death, flashed blinding lightning out of those eyes.
It was, not unlikely, something of the same feeling as made Him shake with indignation as He realized His dear friend Lazarus in the cold, clinging embrace of death, sin's climax. The determination to conquer sin, give it a death thrust, mingled with His acute consciousness of that through which He must go in the doing of it, wrote deep marks on His face. It is the beginning already of Gethsemane, as that, in turn, is of Calvary.
Earlier in the last week occurs the incident which agitates Jesus so, of the Greeks' request for an interview. These earnest seekers for truth, from outside the Jewish nation, seem to bring up to His mind the great outside world, so hungry for Him, and for which He was so hungry. But, quick as a flash, there falls over that the inky black shadow of a cross in His path, and the instant realization that only through it could He get out to these great outside crowds.
As though unaware of the presence of the crowds, He begins talking with Himself, out of His heart, saying words which none understand. |Now is my innermost being agitated, all shaken up; and what decisive word shall I speak? Shall I say, 'Father, save me from this experience'? He can. No, I cannot say that, for for this purpose I have deliberately come to it. This is what I will say -- and the agitation within His spirit issues in the victorious tightening of every rivet in His purpose -- 'Father, glorify Thy name.'| This is Gethsemane already, both in the struggle and in the victory through loyalty to the Father's will.