Most New Testament scholars refer to Luke chapters 9-18 as “Luke’s Special Section” because so much of the material in these chapters is not found in the other two synoptic gospels, Matthew and Mark. In these chapters, Luke temporarily stops drawing on material from Mark's gospel and inserts his own material. The most famous examples of this unique Lukan material found in this section are the parables of Good Samaritan (Luke 10:29-37) and the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32). The formal opening verse of Luke’s special section is Luke 9:51:
- “As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem.”
- Ἐγένετο δὲ ἐν τῷ συμπληροῦσθαι τὰς ἡμέρας τῆς ἀναλήμψεως αὐτοῦ καὶ αὐτὸς τὸ πρόσωπον ἐστήρισεν τοῦ πορεύεσθαι εἰς Ἰερουσαλήμ.
The word "solidified" in Greek is ἐστήρισεν (estērisen), an aorist conjugated form of the verb στερεόω (stereoō), “to strengthen”. This in turn derives from the adjective στερεός (stereos), which means “firm” or “stiff”. This Greek word, by the way, is the basis for the modern term stereo for a sound system which uses two or more separate channels to produce a fuller distribution of sound. This sound is regarded as more “solid” than a single-channel sound system. This Greek adjective is also the root of the word stereotype, literally a “firm" (στερεός), preconceived "image” (τύπος) that we have about certain groups of people.
But why does Luke chooses to use word face as opposed to heart or mind? The face is not usually the part of the body we associate with decision-making or resolve. Luke uses the face because he wants to make clear that as a observant Jew, Jesus literally faces Jerusalem when he prays. The Greek πρόσωπον is most likely composed from two words: "on the side of" (πρός) and "eye" (ὢψ). In the following verses Jesus is spurned by the Samaritans “because his face was set towards Jerusalem” (9:53). The Samaritans who sanctify Mt Gerizim in place of Jerusalem were not interested in fraternizing with Jews like Jesus. Long-standing hatred between the two groups had been seriously aggravated by the razing of the Samaritan temple on Mt Gerizim by John Hyrcanus I in 128 BCE.