Lent 2, Alternate Reading A
March 17, 2019
Read the passage at the bottom of this post: Luke 13:31-35, The Message or Luke 13:31-35, The New Revised Standard Version (NRSV).
Sermon by the Rev. Dr. George Hermanson, "You Have to Sing the Blues to Feel the Joy."
Luke introduces us to this Herod back in Luke 9:7-9. At that point, Jesus had sent out the twelve to practice their ministry. This had further spread Jesus' reputation - right up to the King's ears. As Luke puts it:
(Herod) was perplexed, because it was said by some that John (the Baptist) has been raised from the dead. ... Herod said, "I beheaded John; but who is this about whom I hear such things?" And Herod tried to see Jesus.
Chapter 9 of Luke then continues with the feeding of 5,000 men plus women and children; the declaration by Peter that the disciples say he, Jesus, is the Messiah; Jesus saying they are now headed to Jerusalem where the Son of Man will undergo great suffering, be killed, and on the third day be raised; and the story of the Transfiguration, Luke 9:28-36; etc. The following chapters continue to heighten the tension between Jesus and the religious authorities.
But now - surprisingly - it is these same opponents, the Pharisees, who now warn Jesus that apparently Herod has heard enough about Jesus that he wants to kill him. How come they do this?
Turns out that as far as the Pharisees are concerned anyone who is an enemy of my enemy is a friend. That is, the Pharisees are also opposed to Herod - though for different reasons and using different tactics. But in the world of "Who's side are you on?" the Pharisees regard Jesus as on their side as far as Herod goes. Hence the warning.
However, though unintended, the Pharisees warning is much like one of the tests we read about last week, Luke 4:1-13. Except instead of being tested with glory and authority and security - the test is fear. But the Pharisees are still encouraging Jesus to abandon his mission and save himself.
Verse 32. Jesus' response suggests that actually the Pharisees have the ear of Herod, and as far as Jesus is concerned are friends of Herod's.
I'd be curious to know if "fox" in Jesus' day might be closer to "weasel" or "rat" in our day. Certainly, Herod was a collaborator with the Romans.
"And on the third day I finish my work" is a saying that Jesus' friends would understand one way, and outsiders would be confused by.
Verses 33 to 35. Jesus re-affirms that he is headed for Jerusalem, knowing that he would be killed while his heart's desire is to be able to gather the city into her arms like a hen gathers her chicks for shelter.
This text presents us with a snapshot of the context in which the events of Holy Week will unfold.
It also presents us with a snapshot of the context in which God's love is still at work. Are we not Jerusalem? Still a people enmeshed with the politics and economy of this age and not those of Kingdom of God?
And as much we desire to be the ones to greet Jesus with shouts of, "Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord," are we not also the ones who - like frightened chicks - will not be gathered; will not be comforted; and in our fear will kill God's great love for us all?
Note: Historical background information is primarily from Bruce Malina and Richard Rohrbaugh, Social Science Commentary on the Synoptic Gospels (see link below), page 283.
* Link to Amazon.com Bibliography for Bruce Malina, Richard Rohrbaugh, et. al., Social Science Commentary on ... The Synoptic Gospels; The Gospel of John; The Book of Acts; The Letters of Paul; The Book of Revelation; and others.
Luke 13:31-35 (NRSV)
31 At that very hour some Pharisees came and said to him, "Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you." 32 He said to them, "Go and tell that fox for me, 'Listen, I am casting out demons and performing cures today and tomorrow, and on the third day I finish my work. 33 Yet today, tomorrow, and the next day I must be on my way, because it is impossible for a prophet to be killed outside of Jerusalem.' 34 Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! 35 See, your house is left to you. And I tell you, you will not see me until the time comes when you say, 'Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.'"
New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Luke 13:31-35 (The Message)
31 Just then some Pharisees came up and said, "Run for your life! Herod's on the hunt. He's out to kill you!"
32 Jesus said, "Tell that fox that I've no time for him right now. Today and tomorrow I'm busy clearing out the demons and healing the sick; the third day I'm wrapping things up. 33 Besides, it's not proper for a prophet to come to a bad end outside Jerusalem.
34 Jerusalem, Jerusalem, killer of prophets,
abuser of the messengers of God!
How often I've longed to gather your children,
gather your children like a hen,
Her brood safe under her wings—
but you refused and turned away!
35 And now it's too late: You won't see me again
until the day you say,
'Blessed is he
who comes in
the name of God.'"
Scripture quotations from THE MESSAGE. Copyright © by Eugene H. Peterson 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.
Permission is granted for non-profit use of these materials.
Acknowledgement in oral presentations is not required.
Otherwise, please acknowledge source as, "David Ewart, www.holytextures.com."