24 February 2013

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)


Leading up to this point in Luke's Gospel, Jesus has been teaching in many places and talking about the kingdom of God, and of things that are to come. From this passage we see that he has a clear sense of his own work and where it will inevitably lead him. However, he is not the only one who can see where things are heading - the Pharisees (a movement of Jewish scholars advocating a strict adherence to Moses' Law) too can see what may happen and appear to be warning Jesus of a threat from Herod, the son of the famous Herod the Great from the birth stories of Jesus.

What is unclear is whether this is out of genuine concern for his wellbeing, or whether they are trying to frighten him into leaving the area. Jesus, however, is convinced that his work must be carried out in a specific way, and neither the Pharisees nor Herod himself will be able to hinder that.

Jesus' reference to the "third day" both echoes the time when as a boy he was found in the Temple after three days of frantic searching (Luke 2:41-51), and points forwards to his resurrection on the third day (Luke 24:7). In both cases Jerusalem is key, and Jesus looks to that city as his final destination as it was for many prophets before him. However he looks to it not with fear, but with deep concern for the city and its inhabitants, the centre of the Jewish faith.

When a mother hen is threatened, she will defend her children by gathering them underneath her wings for protection. There are stories of farmyards destroyed by fire in which live chicks have been found under the charred body of their mother, her sacrifice giving them life. As Jesus wants to gather Jerusalem to himself, he will go on to that city where he will sacrifice his life for all who live in it, and indeed all people everywhere.

To Ponder

  • Who might Jesus want to gather under his wings today?
  • Jesus is prepared to sacrifice everything for others. What are you prepared to give for others' benefit?
  • Jesus had a clear sense of God's plan for his life and how it would play out. What sense do you have of God's plan for your life?

Bible notes author

Helen Jenkins

Prior to training for ministry she studied human genetics and is interested in the relationship between faith and science. She wonders whether there is a gene for supporting Stockport County as it appears to run in the family and does not seem to be based on any rational decision!