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.'"
Luke 13:31-35 NRSV
Our scripture today hits me.. Let’s take it apart.
Now earlier in scripture Luke makes a point to say that Jesus was still travelling. The end goal was Jerusalem. In our scripture for today, he is currently in Galilee, which is ruled by Herod. When we think Herod we often think of the baby killer in the beginning of Matthew. This is not the same guy. The Herod in Matthew was incredibly narcissistic. He named multiple children, including females after himself. This Herod is one of his sons. This is the son that beheaded John the Baptist and married his own niece. (The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, right?) Anyway, this Herod had no desire to kill Jesus. In actuality, he just wanted to see him. Eventually, when Jesus was arrested, Herod finally gets his chance, and sends him back to Pontius Pilate. So why are the Pharisees telling Jesus to leave, or Herod will kill him? He was already headed out of town, and Herod had no desire to kill Jesus? Because, like many things the Pharisees did, it was a trap. Jesus was a known prophet. If he ran from Herod it would look like he didn’t have God’s power behind him. Therefore, he would appear as a false prophet. If he faced Herod to speak with him, it would make a people who were already angry with Herod (he was the guy who used the temple tax to put a Roman Eagle at the entrance to the rebuilt temple) they would be enraged with Jesus. Like all the other traps, this one looked impossible to break free from.
Jesus’ response is interesting to me. First, I believe he gets angry, or at least frustrated. I say this, because a fox was not one of the good animals to be associated with. In his frustration he defuses the bomb. He’s not running out of town. He’s not seeing Herod. Instead he basically says, “I have work to do. We both know nothing is going to happen. Leave me alone.”
I don’t know if I’m alone here, but when I’m frustrated it tends to spill over into other areas. Like, I might be frustrated a project I’m working on isn’t going the way I want. Well, then I recall other projects that didn’t work. Sometimes that leads to getting frustrated at things that don’t deserve my frustration. Like, I might unfairly get frustrated at the ones I love, and that usually leads to me apologizing.
Jesus’ frustration spills over to Jerusalem. The city that “kills the prophets, and stones those that are sent to it.” See that phrase at the top of the page? When one feels sorrow instead of anger, you are on the Christian path. In Jesus’ frustration, he begins to lament the very people who would eventually kill him. Most would react a bit different than Jesus did. A group of people want you dead, you call those people your enemy. A group of people don’t want to listen to what you have to say, and just call you a liar, you unfriend them. In an act of radical love, Jesus still wants them to be included in God’s family. It’s a lamentation. He is literally walking to his death, and he is weeping for those who will crucify him.
What do we do with that? We have to find that sorrow for those who have hurt us. Why? Often times, the ones who have hurt us are hurt too. There comes a time where it is more important to do what is right than what is fair. It’s not easy. Easy is biting back, taking revenge, or living in the pain of the past. There comes a time where we are called to that radical love of forgiveness: When we end that cycle of brokenness and abuse, so we don’t end up being the ones who hurt someone in the future. When we weep for those who haven’t found that true peace yet. When we no longer see enemies, or outsiders, but simply people who haven’t accepted God’s love in the Body of Christ. It’s accepting our ability to wound others; in our imperfection, we are fallen creatures. We try our hardest to follow God’s will, but our hardest will never be perfect. It is in our own humility we can find forgiveness for others.
You cannot change who you were. You can only make actions now, to try to live into God’s purpose. It’s a purpose that doesn’t belong to me, or you. It’s God’s plan, and it requires letting go. Let go. It’s time.