Luke 13:31-35


Death as Climax of Integrity

Luke 13:31-35  -  Jerusalem Rejected

31 Around that time some Pharisees came up and said to him,
“Get out of here and go somewhere else
because Herod wants to kill you.”
32 He told them, “Go and tell that fox,
‘Look, today and tomorrow I cast out devils and work healings,
and on the third day I shall have finished.
33 Yet it is necessary that I go on
today, tomorrow and the next day,
because it is not possible for a prophet to be killed outside Jerusalem.’

Jesus was unshakably confident that his mission perfectly accorded with the will of God and was empowered by the finger of God. It would not be thwarted by anyone. That Herod sought to kill Jesus was not surprising, nor was the fact that some Pharisees wanted him elsewhere. His informants had been keeping a close eye on Jesus, as they had on John the Baptist earlier.

Yet Jesus knew he was on his way to death in Jerusalem. That it was not possible for a prophet to be killed outside Jerusalem was part of the folklore of the time (It had been mentioned already by Jesus in 11:49-51), and Jesus assumed that his hearers would understand what he meant. He obviously saw that, unlike a threatened death at the hands of Herod, his death in Jerusalem would in no way negate the thrust of God’s saving action through him. 

Jesus’ use of the term the third day showed clearly that it meant for him the day of God’s intervention and justification. The term had the same sense when Jesus referred to his resurrection. Its reference was symbolic, not numerical.

34 Jerusalem, Jerusalem, that kills the prophets
and stones those sent to it!
How many times I wanted to gather your children together,
just as a hen gathers her brood under her wings,
and you would have none of it!
35 Yes, your house is left to you...

Jesus’ comment gave an insight into the beautifully integrated feminine energy in the heart of the masculine Christ. Jesus was a truly mature and integrated human being. He felt a genuinely maternal love for Jerusalem’s children. The image of the hen also showed a wonderful down-to-earthness.

Jesus’ comment revealed his deep sadness. He felt his frustrating powerlessness to reach their hearts.

The translation is left to you was used in the sense of to become a desolation. The phrase echoed a comment made centuries before by Jeremiah. The full context is worth noting: 

Hear the word of the LORD, O King of Judah sitting on the throne of David—
you, and your servants, and your people who enter these gates.
Thus says the LORD: Act with justice and righteousness, 
and deliver from the hand of the oppressor anyone who has been robbed.
And do no wrong or violence to the alien, the orphan, and the widow, 
or shed innocent blood in this place.
For if you will indeed obey this word, 
then through the gates of this house shall enter kings who sit on the throne of David, 
riding in chariots and on horses, they, and their servants, and their people. 
But if you will not heed these words,
I swear by myself, says the LORD, that this house shall become a desolation.
[Jer 22:2-.5].

The reason in Jeremiah’s mind for Jerusalem’s being abandoned (left to you) was precisely the failure of the leadership to act with justice, particularly towards the oppressed and marginalised. Jesus’ concern was the same: the failure of the leadership to obey his word.

... I tell you, you will see no more of me
until the moment comes when you say,
‘Blessed is one coming in the name of the Lord!’”

As Luke later would describe Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, the disciples greeted Jesus with the words Blessed is one coming in the name of the Lord, but not the Pharisees. They instead would demand that Jesus check the crowd’s enthusiastic shouts.

Next >> Luke 14:1-6