Jesus’ mission in Luke 9-10 revealed that as He turned His attention toward Jerusalem, He did so in light of the record of redemptive history in the Old Testament. He was not a radical, esoteric figure, but One who brought to culmination God’s earlier acts of revelation in the Old Testament.
(1) In Luke 9:28-36, Jesus was transfigured before some of the disciples and spoke with Moses and Elijah—prophets who spoke for God and performed miracles in the Old Testament. The account of the Transfiguration (Matt 17:1-8//Mark 9:2-8//Luke 9:28-36) set forth Jesus’ unique place in salvation history. When Peter, John, and James saw the change in Jesus’ appearance, Luke reported that they also saw Moses and Elijah talking with Jesus. The three were not discussing Moses’ leadership in the exodus (Exodus 12-15) or Elijah’s great acts like the defeat of the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel (1 Kings 18), but Jesus’ departure that would take place via the cross in Jerusalem (Luke 9:31). The voice from heaven confirmed for Peter, John, and James that Jesus was God’s Son, the Chosen One whose ministry fulfilled all that Moses and Elijah had done in God’s name.
(2) In Luke 9:51, Jesus’ mission toward Jerusalem echoed the significance of the city of David in the Old Testament. Melchizedek, king of Jerusalem, visited Abraham and received a tithe of the spoils of war from the patriarch (Gen 14:17-20). Jerusalem was the city of David, the place that David established as the center of Israel’s religious and civic life (1 Chron 21:18-22:1; Pss 2:6; 48:2; 137:3; Zech 9:9). But after the days of David, Jerusalem descended into an idolatrous abode—a place hardened to God’s prophetic word and destined for destruction (2 Kgs 24:10-12; Jer 1:15; 5:1-13; 7:1-11). Jesus understood Himself to be in the tradition of the rejected prophets, those whom Jerusalem loathed. Luke wrote, “When the days were coming to a close for Him to be taken up, He determined to journey to Jerusalem” (Luke 9:51). Jesus sent seventy disciples to journey south ahead of Him, preparing the towns and villages for His ascent to Jerusalem. He was so sure that Jewish leadership would seize Him there that when He was warned along the way that Herod Antipas, the iron-fisted governor of Galilee, wished to kill Him. Jesus replied, “I must travel today, tomorrow, and the next day, because it is not possible for a prophet to perish outside of Jerusalem!” (Luke 13:33). If the Jewish leadership in Jerusalem had a chance to get Jesus, then even the danger of Herod Antipas would have to take second place. As Jesus arrived in Jerusalem to die, He wept over the city and pronounced judgement against it (Luke 19:41-44).
(3) In Luke 10:27, an expert in the law said that Deut 6:5 and Lev 19:18 were the commandments that led to eternal life. After stating the Ten Commandments in Deuteronomy 5, Moses told Israel that they were to love God with all of their life (Deut 6:5). In Leviticus 19, Moses prescribed various laws for Israelite purity and justice. As the people of Israel showed love for one another (Lev 19:18), they would reflect God’s holiness and purity in the Promised Land. Jesus’ discussion with an expert in the law (Matt 22:34-40//Mark 12:28-34//Luke 10:25-28) demonstrated His new, advanced proclamation of the way of salvation. This lawyer came to Jesus asking what he needed to do to inherit eternal life. When Jesus asked him how he understood the law, the lawyer answered that the way of salvation was found in love for God and love for one’s neighbor, in accord with Deut 6:5 and Lev 19:18. Jesus affirmed the man’s analysis of the way of salvation. But the lawyer wanted to justify himself and asked Jesus to define who qualified as a neighbor. The lawyer’s query prompted Jesus to tell the Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37). Jesus’ point with the parable was that the lawyer needed to be more concerned with being merciful to those in need around him than wondering who qualified as his neighbor. The lawyer appeared to be near salvation, but Jesus exposed the lawyer’s self-righteousness and lack of love toward the needy around him.