Jerusalem, Jerusalem

At that time some Pharisees came to Jesus and said to him, “Leave this place and go somewhere else. Herod wants to kill you.”

He replied, “Go tell that fox, ‘I will keep on driving out demons and healing people today and tomorrow, and on the third day I will reach my goal.’ In any case, I must press on today and tomorrow and the next day—for surely no prophet can die outside Jerusalem!

“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, and you were not willing. 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.’”

Luke 13:31-35

There are a few things in this text that I’m going to let others speculate and debate so that we can focus on a larger theme here without running the word count through the roof. I will point them out to you as we go however. The first is at the very beginning; some Pharisees warned Jesus to get out of there because old Herod was after Him. That seems odd for weren’t the Pharisees plotting to kill Jesus weren’t they working with the Herodians in this effort? Or were these particular Pharisees secretly in Jesus’ corner… or all of the above? For our purposes we’ll just say this issue is unclear, and others can discuss it. Jesus now replies to their warning…

Jesus is defiant in His reply (13:32-33); He will go ahead as planned, and they can relay the message right to Herod if they want to. What these Pharisees cannot know is that Jesus has every reason to be confident, for Herod will never be able to stop God’s eternal purpose from working out at the appointed hour. Indeed, “no prophet can die outside Jerusalem”.

We now reach our destination; verses 34-35. Again, there is something you can argue about because Matthew places this quote in a different location entirely (see Matt. 23:37-39). For our purposes I’ll just say don’t worry about it; the message is the same.

Jesus is headed for Jerusalem where His Ministry will come to its climax. Like the prophets before Him, He will give His life there in God’s service, yet there is a significant difference between His approaching death and the deaths of the prophets of old, for His will be the last sacrifice of the old covenant, the sacrifice that ends atonement for good. I say this because the sacrifices of the Temple were atoning sacrifices; they put off the payment of the penalty for sins until a future date; that is why they were done with animals. Jesus’ sacrifice was the payment itself, and that’s why it was done by the Son of God; fulfilling God’s promise to Abraham. To put it another way, every time the priests performed the sacrificial rites, their sacrifice pictured God’s promise of ultimate redemption; each pointed to what Christ would ultimately do to end the process and take sin away completely.

Yes, each of these was a picture of how much God loved His people. Jesus loved His people so much that He was headed to the city to give His life willingly for their salvation.

His words in 13:34-35 demonstrate that their constant refusal to draw close to God in faith had broken God’s heart. Look carefully! Israel had been looking forward so eagerly to the coming of Messiah, but God was even more eager for the day to dawn.

We’ve seen quite a few warnings in the last several passages of Luke’s narrative and some of them sound a bit harsh when taken verse by verse. Now look back at them and you can see that Jesus isn’t giving warnings through clenched teeth as someone might give a threat. No sir, He was pleading with them to hear His message and receive it in faith, for God wants no one to perish.

There are still many adventures to come before Jesus’ work is complete, and Chapter 14 opens with Jesus visiting, of all things, another Pharisee.

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About Don Merritt

A long time teacher and writer, Don hopes to share his varied life's experiences in a different way with a Christian perspective.
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One Response to Jerusalem, Jerusalem

  1. Jesus also pushed the leaders so they would reveal what kind of people they really were.

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