Sermon on Luke 13:31-35
Text: At that time some Pharisees came to Jesus and said to him, “Leave this place and go somewhere else. Herod wants to kill you.”
32 He replied, “Go tell that fox, ‘I will drive out demons and heal people today and tomorrow, and on the third day I will reach my goal.’ 33 In any case, I must keep going today and tomorrow and the next day–for surely no prophet can die outside Jerusalem!
34 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! 35 Look, your house is left to you desolate. I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’”
In our Gospel Lesson last Sunday, we heard the account of Jesus’ temptations by the devil in the wilderness. We were reminded that Jesus used the Word of God to defeat the devil. We praise our loving God for sending his Son to defeat the devil, not only in the wilderness, but especially upon the cross. This morning in our text, we follow along with Jesus as he travels to Jerusalem to suffer and die for our sins. Let us BEHOLD THE SAVIOR IN HIS BOUNDLESS LOVE. It is 1. A Love Which Takes Him To Certain Death, 2. A Love Which Sorrows Over Those Who Reject Him and 3. A Love That Extends Hope To Those Who Believe In Him.
Jesus had been traveling from village to village, preaching and teaching. As he traveled from Galilee to Jerusalem, he entered a region of Palestine called Perea, which was east of the Jordan River. This region was ruled by King Herod. While he was in this region, we are told, “some Pharisees came to Jesus and said to him, ‘Leave this place and go somewhere else. Herod wants to kill you.’” King Herod wanted Jesus dead.
It might seem strange to us that the Pharisees wanted to warn Jesus. After all, they were Jesus’ enemies. They were plotting to kill Jesus themselves. Why would they warn him? Perhaps they did so for their own evil purposes. Jesus was very popular in this area of Palestine. If someone tried to kill Jesus here, the people might try to stop them. Perhaps, they felt that they should move Jesus along to Jerusalem, where he didn’t have as much support. Once there, they would carry out their murderous plans. They wanted Jesus to leave Perea and go on to Jerusalem.
Jesus responded to their warning by saying, “Go tell that fox, ‘I will drive out demons and heal people today and tomorrow, and on the third day I will reach my goal.’ In any case, I must keep going today and tomorrow and the next day–for surely no prophet can die outside Jerusalem!” Jesus called Herod a “Fox.” Foxes are often characterized as sly or cunning. Jesus didn’t use the term as a compliment. Jesus told the Pharisees to take this message back to Herod.
Jesus wanted Herod, who threatened to kill him, to know that he would continue his work and his miracles for a certain amount of time. That is why Jesus said, “today and tomorrow.” He still had work to be done in the area. He was not going to be bullied into leaving. Jesus showed Herod that he was in control.
Just as he had to stay in that region and do the work, so also he knew that, eventually, he would go to Jerusalem. He, as the Son of God, knew what lay ahead of him. That is why he said, “surely no prophet can die outside Jerusalem!”. When Jesus reached Jerusalem, he knew that suffering and death would be waiting for him. He knew that this was his purpose for coming to the earth. He speaks of this necessity when he said, “I must keep going” and “I will reach my goal.”
We thank Jesus that he carried out his mission with such a singleness of purpose. For, while Jesus could not be bullied by Satan into doing something, you and I cannot share that same victory. We fell victim to the bullying of Satan. Yet, Satan did not have to bully us, for by nature we all are sinful. By nature we want to sin. By nature we seek out ways to gratify our sinful nature. “I,” “Me” and “My” become the most important words to us. We show this when we do those things that God does not want us to do, because what we want is more important than what God wants. We have fallen time and again to the fox, Satan’s, schemes and sinned against our God. We deserve death for our sins, eternal punishment in hell.
It is here that Jesus’ love shows itself. For he, knowing all things that it would involve, willingly became a human being. He, the Son of God, allowed himself to be put in our place, as he suffered and died to pay for the sins of all people. His love flowed, mingled with the blood from his body. We know that he did this willingly, for he, as the Son of God, is in control of all things. There were other attempts to take Jesus’ life, but they failed. When the time was right in God’s eyes, Jesus allowed himself to be captured, punished and even put to death. Three days later, he rose from the dead, showing us that he had won the victory. Truly, it was love that moved Jesus as he traveled along a road that would lead to certain death.
Jesus spoke of Jerusalem in verse 34 of our text, that place where he would suffer and die, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!”. Jesus’ love went out to the people, whom he knew would soon reject him. He urgently desired Jerusalem’s salvation. He wanted to gather them together, to protect them as his own. He uses the picture of a hen gathering her chicks under her wings. What a beautiful picture of the loving care and concern Jesus had for these people. Just as a mother hen uses her own body to protect her children, so Jesus was willing to give his all for the people of Jerusalem.
What was their response? “(You) were not willing!” The fault did not lie with God. He had often sent prophets to the city of Jerusalem. Instead of welcoming these messengers of God with open arms, they mistreated them. We heard how they mistreated the prophet Jeremiah in our Old Testament lesson this morning. Now the greatest messenger of all time was in their presence. Would they open their arms to welcome him? We know from the events of Maundy Thursday and Good Friday that they treated Jesus the same way that their forefathers treated the prophets who were sent to them. The problem was not with God. The problem lay within them. Jesus said, “YOU were not willing.”
The fact that some are lost eternally is not what God desires. Rather, we are told in 1 Timothy 2:4, “God . . . wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” When someone dies, who has rejected Jesus, it does not fill God with joy that the person is lost forever. Rather, as it says in Ezekiel 33:11-12, “‘As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, O house of Israel?’” God doesn’t enjoy it when people spend an eternity in hell. He shows this in the fact that he sent his own Son to die for the sins of the world.
Yet, the fact remains that some will be lost. As Jesus said to them, “Look your house is left to you desolate.” The reason for this desolation is that the people refused to believe in Jesus as their Savior. That is why people everywhere will be lost. They refused to believe. What an awesome ability man has to be able to say “No!” to God. God will listen to their wishes. He will tell them, ‘Since you wanted to be without me during your lifetime on earth, you will be without me for all eternity.’ The fault does not lie with God, but with that person, if they are lost. Jesus’ love showed itself in the sorrow he felt for those who rejected him.
However, for those who have been brought to faith in him, his love extends hope. While it is a person’s fault if they are lost, it is to God’s credit and glory if we are saved. We were dead in our sins, but the Holy Spirit brought us to life, when he created that saving faith in our hearts. Rather than fearing the future, we have something to look forward to.
Jesus speaks of that time when all will say, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.” This will happen on the Last Day. For some, that day will be a day of great terror. They will see for themselves the one whom they rejected. They will hear the consequences of their actions, when the Judge, Jesus Christ, sentences them to death, eternal death in hell. However, for those who have been brought to faith in Jesus as their Savior, it will be a day of great joy. Finally their deliverance from this sinful, evil world has come. We will be released from this prison of tears to an eternity of joy and bliss in heaven. We will finally be able to serve him perfectly, which we cannot do now, because we continue to sin every day.
The fact that Jesus loved us so much that he was willing to die for us will take on a whole new meaning as we experience life in heaven. Indeed, Jesus’ love extends hope to all who believe in him. May we take full advantage of all of the opportunities that God places before us every day to show our thankfulness for his love. How we eagerly await the time when we will be with Jesus, feeling his love wrap around us and holding us close to himself.
During the season of Lent, we are reminded very graphically of Jesus’ love for us. It showed itself in so many different ways. May we reflect that love to others. May we show the hope that we have. May we direct others to Jesus’ love. May the Holy Spirit bless our efforts in doing so. Amen.
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