THERE IS A HIGHWAY TO HOLINESS
Reading: Luke 10:30-37
Preacher: Felix Ngunjiri
Nameless WENT DOWN from Jerusalem, the city of God to the Sin City of Jericho
In the book of Luke 10:30-37, Jesus used a parable to answer a lawyer who wanted to know who a neighbour is. He told him of a certain nameless person, assumed to be a Jew, who went down from Jerusalem to Jericho. “And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.” (Luke 10:30 [KJV]) Jesus was very selective with the words He was using because He had to say only that which He heard from his Father in heaven His words were heavily inspired from heaven because He only spoke “what the Father has told Him.” (John 12:50 [HCSB]) and “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:” (2Tim 3:16 [KJV]). When Jesus called the person ‘a certain man’ He meant a nameless person who can be you or me. When He said that the nameless person went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, He meant that Mr. Nameless descended from Jerusalem, a higher ground, to Jericho city down there in the Jordan valley. Even their altitudes told a lot as Jerusalem was up there surrounded by the mountains while Jericho was down there, the lowest place on earth. The elevation of Jericho is 260 meters below sea level making it the lowest city on earth.
The word Jerusalem is derived from two root words Jeru which means city in Hebrew and Salem or Shalom which means peace. One of the names attributed to God is Jehovah Shalom as explained in the book of Judges 6:23-24: “And the LORD said unto him, Peace be unto thee; fear not: thou shalt not die. Then Gideon built an altar there unto the LORD, and called it Jehovahshalom: unto this day it is yet in Ophrah of the Abiezrites.” (Judg 6:23-24 [KJV]) The Hebrew word for peace is shalom (שׁלום) is derived from a root denoting wholeness or completeness, peace, perfection and the place of righteousness. When Jesus selectively said that the nameless person went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, He meant that the ‘certain’ man left his place of peace and safety, the city of God, the city of our Lord and WENT down to the city of Jericho. Jericho was symbolic of wickedness. You can imagine leaving your place of safety and righteousness, the city of your Lord God Almighty to go down, sliding down, backsliding to the lowest place on earth that was symbolic of wickedness. He moved from Jerusalem, the city of peace that is surrounded by mountains to the sin city of Jericho, passing through the Valley of the shadow of death. There is an actual location along the dangerous road from Jerusalem to Jericho known as The Valley of the Shadow of Death mentioned by David in Psalm 23. Jericho city was a flourishing fortified city that was captured and destroyed by Joshua who cursed it because of its wickedness together with anyone who shall attempt to rebuild it. “So the people shouted, and the trumpets were blown. As soon as the people heard the sound of the trumpet, the people shouted a great shout, and the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they captured the city. Then they devoted all in the city to destruction, both men and women, young and old, oxen, sheep, and donkeys, with the edge of the sword. But to the two men who had spied out the land, Joshua said, “Go into the prostitute’s house and bring out from there the woman and all who belong to her, as you swore to her.” So the young men who had been spies went in and brought out Rahab and her father and mother and brothers and all who belonged to her. And they brought all her relatives and put them outside the camp of Israel. And they burned the city with fire, and everything in it. Only the silver and gold, and the vessels of bronze and of iron, they put into the treasury of the house of the LORD. But Rahab the prostitute and her father’s household and all who belonged to her, Joshua saved alive. And she has lived in Israel to this day, because she hid the messengers whom Joshua sent to spy out Jericho. Joshua laid an oath on them at that time, saying, “Cursed before the LORD be the man who rises up and rebuilds this city, Jericho. “At the cost of his firstborn shall he lay its foundation, and at the cost of his youngest son shall he set up its gates.” (Josh 6:20-26 [ESV2011])
First, Joshua clearly did not want to see this city that worshiped other gods to be rebuilt. A curse was upon its citizens and their memory due to their worship of false gods. Second, the destruction of Jericho served as an example to other cities that opposed Israel and its God. When the Israelites crossed the Jordan River, Jericho was the first major city they encountered. Its devastation would serve as a powerful warning to other people in the land of God’s power. Joshua’s curse was literally fulfilled years later during the reign of King Ahab. We read in 1 Kings 16:34, “In his days Hiel of Bethel built Jericho. He laid its foundation at the cost of Abiram his firstborn, and set up its gates at the cost of his youngest son Segub, according to the word of the LORD, which he spoke by Joshua the son of Nun.” The poor hamlet of er-Riha, the representative of modern Jericho, is situated some two miles farther to the east. It is in a ruinous condition, having been destroyed by the Turks in 1840.
The road to Jericho is one of the most dangerous roads to dare pass through for it is a den of thieves and robbers who will attack you for you took yourself there not knowing that it is a dangerous road. There is an actual location along the dangerous road from Jerusalem to Jericho known as The Valley of the Shadow of Death mentioned by David in Psalm 23. According to the parable, the moment the nameless person abandoned his place of safety and protection and descended to the road that leads to the sin city of Jericho, he was attacked by thieves, stripped of his belongings, wounded and left there lying half dead at the side of the road. The devil is described by our Lord Jesus as the “thief who cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10 [KJV]
We are given a list of other wicked guys who will meet you on that Jericho road: other nameless persons descended from the place of peace to the sin city of Jericho who included lawyers and Levites, fake pastors and other wicked people. One wonders what they were going to do in Jericho considering that they had no compassion on an injured man lying by the side of the road half dead.
Why do people decide to descend from the city of the great King who is our Lord to that dangerous road that leads to the sin city of Jericho? They are attracted by curiosity of life down there and the lure of city of life with its deafening discos, immorality, idolatry, that famous street they hear of called Koinange street, not knowing that on that road, you will never know what hit you as it is lined by gangsters lurking in the bushes planning on which of the passers-by to descend on. The moment one stepped on that road, he or she was as unsafe as the dying man lying by the roadside.
There is a Better Road
As you contemplate leaving your place of safety and godliness to go down the Jericho Road, remember that there is a better road, the Emmaus Road, much better than that which passes through the valley of the shadow of death. In the book of Luke 24:13 two of Christ’s followers, among them Cleophas, were walking towards Emmaus talking of the breaking news of the day of how Jesus Christ had resurrected. “Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles or eleven kilometres from Jerusalem. They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing him. He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?” They stood still, their faces downcast. One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you only a visitor to Jerusalem and do not know the things that have happened there in these days?” “What things?” he asked. “About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and before all the people. The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.” He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself. As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus acted as if he were going farther. But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them. When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.” Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread” (Luke 24:13-35). Jesus joined them when He realized that they were talking about Him. “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20). When you start talking about the resurrected Christ and how he is seated in glory on the right hand of God in heaven, Christ Himself will join you and dine with you.
Lions and Beasts Will not be Found on the Road to Emmaus
When you are walking with someone on a journey, you can decide to talk politics or soccer or gossip and nothing else will happen other than the talk. But the moment you start talking to someone about the Risen Christ, you draw God’s attention and Jesus Christ Himself will join you and walk with you because you are extending His kingdom here on earth. When two or more people start walking on the Emmaus Road glorifying God, Jesus Christ will join them there on that highway of Holiness and “No lion shall be there on that road, no robbers will attack you there, nor any ravenous beast shall go up there on, it shall not be found there; but only the redeemed shall walk there” (Isaiah 35:9). “And an highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called the way of holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it” (Isaiah 35:8). Robbers, ravenous beasts, diseases, accidents and demons are barred from accessing the highway of holiness. The highway of holiness is for the redeemed, the delivered, the saved and the worshippers, who thank God and praise the name of the Lord God Almighty in the name of Jesus day and night, for the Lord is good and His mercies endure forever. Amen.