Thursday, February 21, 2013

Lectionary Musings for February 24, 2013

Luke 13:31-35
13:31 At that very hour some Pharisees came and said to him, "Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you."

13:32 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.

13:33 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.'

13:34 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!

13:35 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.'"

Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem, but at his own pace.  He is in the area controlled by Herod Antipas when Pharisees come to warn him that Herod wants to kill him.  The warning rings a little hollow when we contemplate Herod's actions when later Herod has the chance to kill Jesus.  Herod sends him back to Pilate, not the actions of a man who has been waiting three months to kill Jesus (according to Luke's time table),  Perhaps the Pharisees simply want to get Jesus away from their fiefdoms and think he will be afraid of a threat from Herod.

Jesus does not fear Herod.  He does not even respect Herod calling him "that fox".  He tells the Pharisees that he is busy caring for the least and will not move on until he has finished his work.  The words"today and tomorrow, and on the third day" here and in the following verse just mean an indefinite period.

But Jesus has a purpose in his journey.  That purpose is to die in Jerusalem.  He makes that clear in his lament that the city kills the prophets and stones others.  Yet, God has tried again and again to gather her chicks under her care, but they have refused to accept her love.  The use of a feminine image reminds us that God is neither male nor female. This passage also reminds us that it is ultimately our choice to accept God's love or not.

The New Revised Standard Version translation of the beginning of verse 35 is not very enlightening.  The New International Version translates that first sentence as "Look, your house is left to you desolate,"  House in this case refers to Jerusalem and reminds us that  by rejecting Jesus as God Incarnate, Jerusalem is choosing to separate from God.  Yet, God's love does not stop because we turn away.  God is always the father waiting for the prodigal child to return.

Jesus quotes Psalm us the last sentence of verse 35.  That quote reminds us that a triumphal entrance into Jerusalem awaits Jesus on Palm Sunday.  Christians today see that Psalm 118 as a messianic psalm.  At the time of its writing, this verse applied to the king's entrance into the temple.  Jesus knows what is coming: celebration, death and triumph.  Jesus is in control.  God will choose the place and time.

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