In the western world, determination is normally considered the crucial quality for success. Ralph Waldo Emerson puts it this way, “The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be.” Without determination you will never become what you hope to be. Following a concert, the famous Russian pianist, Igor Stravinsky, having heard the adulatory remark, “I’d give my life to play like that,” responded, “I did.” There is no question but that to perform like a master requires the determination of the master. The determination of Jesus Christ to be the man intended by his Father is clearly seen throughout the gospel story.
Early in the ministry of Jesus, Mark records a typical busy day (1:16-34). After challenging some men to follow him as disciples, he went to a synagogue in Capernaum where he taught and drove out a demon. Then it was off to the house of Simon and Andrew where he healed their mother-in-law of a serious fever. That evening the sick and demon-possessed came and he healed them. It had been a vey full day, but early the next morning he left the house to find a solitary place to pray. When the disciples found him and told him that everybody was looking for him, he responded, “I must preach the good news about the kingdom of God in other towns as well. That is why God sent me” (v. 38). Jesus was determined to do what his Father had sent him to do even though opportunities to help and heal requested his attention. Healing was something he did more than something he came to do.
The last period of his ministry was approaching, so Jesus ”set out for Jerusalem determined to carry out his role” (Luke 9:51). En route he entered a Samaritan village but the people wouldn’t welcome him because “it was clear to them that he was determined to go to Jerusalem” (v. 53). He had “set his face” (ESV) to go to Jerusalem and that was perfectly clear to those who saw him. Determined to carry through his role as a sacrificial offering for the sins of man.
In that excruciating night in Gethsemane when deep distress rolled over Jesus like a great wave, he called out to God. As his sweat fell to the ground like great drops of blood, he prayed, “Dear Father, there is nothing you cannot do; take this cup of suffering away from me – yet may it be your will that is done, not mine” (Mark 14:36). Such determination to fulfill a destiny is impossible for us fathom. It is the ultimate test of character. It bids us to ask again why we are here and do we in some say display a determination to fulfill our purpose that reflects that of our Lord?