Sunday 17th March St Petri Lutheran Church
Vicar Shaun Manning
Lent 2, St Petri
Luke 13: 31-35
31 At that very hour some Pharisees came and said to him, “Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you.” 32 And he said to them, “Go and tell that fox, ‘Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I finish my course. 33 Nevertheless, I must go on my way today and tomorrow and the day following, for it cannot be that a prophet should perish away from Jerusalem.’ 34 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! 35 Behold, your house is forsaken. And I tell you, you will not see me until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!’”
I wonder what analogy you think of when you reflect on your relationship to the Lord? Or when you think of the Lord’s relationship to His people.
The Scriptures have several ways of expressing this, a Shepherd and His sheep, a Bridegroom and His Bride, as well as others.
Here Christ, see’s His people as His brood of chicks and He our mother hen. Jerusalem, the place where prophets and messengers of God are killed are about to put to death it’s greatest prophet. In fact, this is not just any prophet and messenger, this is God Incarnate.
Our Lord Jesus speaks to Jerusalem, a representation of His people, directly… not just as His Father’s people but also His people as He expressed His deep love and longing compassion for them.
When our Lord Jesus laments over Jerusalem, He is lamenting over His rebellious and stubborn people. Is the Church still rebellious and stubborn in need of being gathered and protected by its mother hen and Lord? I would think so.
Our Lord goes from this lament over Jerusalem to stepping into this very city to be crucified by them in order to redeem them. It is the only way in which Jerusalem could live, in fact it is the only way His people both then and now can live.
And so our text begins…
31 At that very hour some Pharisees came and said to him, “Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you.”
The motive of these Pharisee’s is unknown, were they legitimately warning Jesus so that He would avoid being killed by Herod? This is would be a turn of events for the Pharisee’s, for to this point they have often been a hindrance for Christ, through constant questioning of His ministry.
Not only is the Pharisee’s motive’s unclear from our text but also the truth of their message and warning. Did Herod really want to kill Jesus? Chapter 9 and 23 of St Luke give us evidence that Herod was more curious of Jesus and His legitimacy as the Christ than He was about His demise.
With this in mind, perhaps the Pharisee’s were trying to lure Jesus to Jerusalem, non-Herodian territory, so that could do what they pleased with Him with more freedom.
Jesus responds to this imperative to leave…
32 And he said to them, “Go and tell that fox, ‘Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I finish my course. 33 Nevertheless, I must go on my way today and tomorrow and the day following, for it cannot be that a prophet should perish away from Jerusalem.’
Was this really intended for Herod to hear? or was Jesus speaking to the Pharisee’s who being ‘fox’-like’ in attempt to manipulate Jesus to Jerusalem?
I think it is safe to say to that the Lord Jesus is directing his statement for both audiences. Perhaps even knowing that this message would probably never get to Herod anyhow. It is as if the Jesus here is saying that He dictates the when and how of His course, His goal, His mission. And what is this course? what is this course He is looking to ‘finish’? It is the goal of the Father, to reconcile all people to Himself through Christ, starting in Jerusalem then to the Gentiles.
Jesus says blatantly says that His reason for eventually going to Jerusalem is to perish, for prophets should not die outside of Jerusalem.
We may have heard the narrative many times but it’s worth meditating on, especially in Lent, that our Lord came to die, this was an essential part of His goal, His course, His mission. For who though? His people. Hence He speaks directly to them… listen to this again and imagine where Jesus may have been looking… He either looks to Jerusalem geographically or perhaps He even keeps dialoguing with the Pharisee’s and speaks to them and calls them Jerusalem… Just like the Lord Jesus out of compassion says “O Martha, Martha” and later confronts St Paul with “Saul, Saul” here He says similarly…
34 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!
Again I think this statement could be directed at both… For the Pharisee’s are not only advocates for Jerusalem but also a part of it. So perhaps this response is directed straight at the Pharisee’s, who are unwilling and in fact are trying to control and manipulate Christ (by killing and stoning Him through these actions now as well as covenantly throughout the OT History) rather than being His children and letting God be their mother hen.
They/We would much rather be in the line of a fox attack then safely under the care of the Father (mother hen). This is who we are without Christ, and who we were before Christ.
Hence, Christ comes into this rebellious city of Jerusalem to buy them back… to be the chick they were supposed to before their mother hen. On Christmas Eve, I preached about the example of cats. The man trying to woo in the freezing cold cats outside who will die if they didn’t find warmth. After the run away from Him, he says “I’d have to become a cat, maybe then they would listen and trust me”. Well here, in this analogy, God did become a baby chicken. The chick we were supposed to be, living under the motherly care of our Hen but always being unwilling, running away, preferring care elsewhere which then put us in the line of attack from the fox. We still are, aren’t we? Stepping constantly into dangerous territory, doing things the Hen would not want her chicks to do.
Living by the world’s standards, precepts, opinions and norms is like the modern day Herodian, those prefer to live under that fox than the Hen. We are so susceptible to these attacks from the fox, the evil one, our flesh and the world when we run away from the care of the Heavenly Father.
35 Behold, your house is forsaken. And I tell you, you will not see me until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!’”
They will say this when the Lord makes his entrance into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. But not for long, they will soon after crucify Him.
God, through Christ, has stepped into Jerusalem, and also steps into your life by laying down His life for you. He then put His spirit in us so that we can say “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord”. As St Paul says, “no one can Jesus is Lord but by the Holy Spirit”. This was granted to Lily today, as it was granted to any of us who have been baptised and been adopted as God’s children. Lily has now been given the right to say, along with the rest of the Lord’s people, Jesus is Lord. So that we avoid the warning of being a house forsaken by God, under the power of the evil one, having no Saviour to wipe away our sins and make us clean before our Heavenly Father.
Our Lord is going to gather you under his wings again this morning when you come and kneel at the altar, as He has already begun doing this morning. Picture this sanctuary as His nest and other little chicklings coming to under His wing of protection, forgiveness to be comforted and then sent back out to do His will in the world.
And this truth of the Lord being the mother hen who gathers us and His peace of God which surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds safe in Christ Jesus. Amen