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Easter: The Point of No Return  

 

The fighter jet hurtled down the runway as the pilot checked his instruments anticipating the moment of rotation and the aircraft lifting off the runway. Just as he passed the point of no return he heard a small 'bang' and the undercarriage shook. It was too late to stop the takeoff procedure. Having passed that point of no return, it would have been catastrophic to abort the takeoff. He was irrevocably committed to proceed come what may.  

 

As it happened the aircraft climbed swiftly into the sky. A low level pass over the airfield allowed the ground crew to confirm that a tyre had blown just after the point of no return. In due course the pilot was able to safely land the aircraft with no harm to himself.   I listened with undivided attention to the pilot as he recounted the details of his adventure. I did so because the pilot was my son!!  

 

In aviation circles, the term "point of no return" refers to (1) that point in the takeoff roll where the aircraft is irrevocably committed to continue; where aborting the takeoff is no longer an option or (2) that point in the flight where returning to the airport of origin is no longer an option because there is insufficient fuel and time.  

 

As I think about the story of Easter and the death & resurrection of Jesus Christ, it seems to me that there had to be a "point of no return" as He journeyed to Jerusalem and the destiny that awaited Him there. As I read the story, I am gripped with the realization that this God-man was not the victim of circumstances but the master of them.  

 

SO, when was He at the PNR the point of no return?  Here are two possibilities for us to consider. No doubt there will be those reading this who will want to suggest other events or occasions.  

 

[1]  Mount of Transfiguration. (Luke 9/28-36)  

I can't provide you with chapter and verse to prove my conviction here but I believe that Jesus could have ascended into heaven from this mountain. He was fully qualified by His sinlessness to do so. He had passed the test that Adam failed. There was nothing to bar the way into the presence of His Father.  

 

However, had Jesus bid us farewell at that point, we would have been left with nothing more than an example of life as God intended it to be before sin corrupted and contaminated it. There would have been no sacrifice or resurrection to deal with the presence and power of that sin in our lives.   Almost immediately after that transfiguration event, we read this:

 

"As the time drew near for his return to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem". (Luke 9/51 NLT).

 

Jesus will return to heaven but it will be via Jerusalem and the cross and the tomb and the resurrection. This sounds to me like a point of no return. He resolutely set His face to go to Jerusalem, knowing all that was to confront Him there. Now there was no going back.  

 

[2]  The Triumphant Entry into Jerusalem. (Luke 19/28-40)  

I think that, in an open and public sense, this was the real PNR point of no return. When Jesus mounted that donkey He was making a declaration a declaration that was unmistakable and unequivocal. If actions really do speak louder than words, then riding that young donkey spoke powerfully as Jesus identified Himself with the long-anticipated Messiah.

 

In an open, public sense, Jesus is now irrevocably committed to go all the way to the Cross. There can be no going back. He is now passed the point of no return.   Disciples of Jesus share the desire to be like Him. His example of irrevocable commitment surely challenges our sometimes partial, often conditional and even reluctant commitment to the King and the Kingdom.   At the very end of the same 9th chapter of Luke, Jesus summed up this challenge for us  

 

"Anyone who puts a hand to the plow and then looks back is not fit for the Kingdom of God." (Luke 9:62 NLT)      

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