When God Came to the City

Jesus endured the cross for the joy that was set before him. He knew his mission.

The evangelist Luke captures Jesus’s relentless journey by telling us that “he set his face to go to Jerusalem” (Luke 9:51). Nothing would deter him.

In their new book, Why Cities Matter, Stephen Um and Justin Buzzard discuss this significance of Jesus coming into the city of Jerusalem. Cities, they explain, play a key role throughout the biblical storyline. The end-time vision of the new world is focused on a city, the new Jerusalem. This is at the heart of our hope in the Book of Hebrews (Hebrews 11:10, 16; 12:22). And as Um and Buzzard contend, the only reason this lasting city can be our hopeful end is because of Jesus’s humble entry into that city over which he wept. The only reason we will live in the city whose designer and builder is God is because the author and perfecter of our faith endured the cross, despised the shame, and is seated at the right hand of God (Hebrews 12:2).

Mirroring the presence of God in the garden-city of Eden, and also foreshadowing the end-time city of God, God the Son entered Jerusalem. He rode on a colt to the chorus of voices, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord!” (Luke 19:38). But this was a broken city. The inhabitants didn’t hide from God’s presence this time, nor did they celebrate his presence for long. Instead, they sought to expel it. They killed him.

Um and Buzzard write,

How can an unfaithful, forsaken city become “Not Forsaken” (Isaiah 62:12)? The answer lies in the upside-down wisdom of the cross. In the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, God takes the antagonism, hostility, and violence of the inhabitants of the earthly city upon himself. Jesus, God’s Son, is forsaken (Matthew 27:46) in order that he might create a city called “Not Forsaken.” He faithfully bears the punishment for our unfaithfulness so that his city can be called righteous and faithful (Isaiah 1:26). (72)

Jesus came to the city and endured the cross for the joy set before him. And therefore we look to that city which is to come (Hebrews 13:14).

For more on Why Cities Matter: To God, the Culture, and the Church, check out this new video trailer.