31 May 2012

Luke 13:31-35

"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!" (v. 34)


Previously in Luke 13, Jesus deftly handled the criticism of the religious leaders of his day when he healed a woman who had been ill for 18 years (verses 10-17). In today's passage by the Pharisees, there is no criticism, just a warning to 'leave town', and for his own safety it would seem. But again Jesus is undeterred.

In rebuffing the antagonistic remarks of the religious leaders, Jesus has called them "hypocrites" (v. 15). So it is no surprise then that his response to this threat on his life from Herod is met with the same directness. His response is to send a verbal message to "that fox" (v. 32), outlining his itinerary. He had nothing to hide; in fact he seemed to be saying: 'Tell Herod this is where he can find me'.

There is a confidence in Jesus' response to this new situation, matched only by the compassion that he goes on to express for Jerusalem (verses 34-35), one of the oldest cities in the world which still uniquely embodies so many of the significant encounters of God with creation. But it is not for the legacy of its architecture and infrastructure that he expresses such deep regard, but for its inhabitants - the people through whom and to whom he was sent to save the world.

It may be hard to imagine just how Jesus felt at this point, but whatever his feelings, his words suggest an unshaken focus on his purpose, and an undaunted love for his people. It takes more than a positive mental attitude or a 'glass half-full' approach to have such a mindset. It takes a deepened relationship with God - who is love - to reach out to those God's love. To quote the sobering words of Charles Wesley:

A charge to keep I have: a God to glorify;
a never-dying soul to save, and fit it for the sky.

To serve the present age, my calling to fulfil;
O may it all my powers engage to do my Master's will!

Arm me with jealous care, as in your sight to live;
and O your servant, Lord, prepare a strict account to give!

Help me to watch and pray, and on yourself rely,
so shall I not my trust betray, nor love within me die.

To Ponder

How do you respond when you are criticised?

How do you show compassion in the face of difficulty or adversity?

What does today's passage encourage you to do or be?

Bible notes author

The Revd Katei Kirby

The Revd Katei Kirby is currently heading up the Belonging Together project in the Connexional Team. This initiative celebrates the Methodist Church's ethnic diversity, and seeks to embed this at all levels of the Church's life and ministry of the Church.