O Jerusalem, Jerusalem!
The same day there came certain of the Pharisees, saying unto him, Get thee out, and depart hence: for Herod will kill thee. And he said unto them, Go ye, and tell that fox, Behold, I cast out devils, and I do cures to day and to morrow, and the third day I shall be perfected. Nevertheless I must walk to day, and to morrow, and the day following: for it cannot be that a prophet perish out of Jerusalem. O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate: and verily I say unto you, Ye shall not see me, until the time come when ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord. (Luke 13:31-35)
In the passage before us we find some valuable information concerning the place where our Lord was to die and his response from a threat from Herod. Jesus tells us that He must die at Jerusalem, the city known for killing the prophets of God. We also see the compassion of Christ towards Jerusalem as He expresses His desire to gather them under His wings, but they were unwilling.
The knowledge Jesus had of His imminent death does not paralyze him or keep Him from finishing the work He needs to finish. Instead it liberates him. “You go tell that old fox,” laughs Jesus. “I’ve been working yesterday. I’ve been working today. I’ll be working tomorrow, until the third day when my course is finished.”
Seeing his life from the perspective of his death and resurrection, liberates Jesus. It takes all the fear of death away.
When we can begin to view our life from the perspective of our death and resurrection into eternal life, we will be able to look at death as Jesus did. To smile at it and to tell death – we worked yesterday. We worked today. We will work tomorrow and we will keep on working until our death and resurrection into eternal life.
Regardless of Herod’s threat, the journey to the Cross continued: for “it is impossible that a prophet should perish outside of Jerusalem” (Luke 13:33). At this point Luke inserts the lament over Jerusalem (Luke 13:34-35), with its implicit call to repentance. The image of the fox, slyly seeking to destroy the Son of Man - is replaced by that of a mother hen, desiring to gather together her scattered brood.
Now Jerusalem is clearly informed that the Lord “willed” to gather them, but they “were not willing” (Luke 13:34). “The Lord is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). If we fail to respond to the call of the gospel, the fault is our own - we choose to use our treasured ‘free-will’ against our own better interests.
The result of Jerusalem’s failure was desolation (Luke 13:35). The city was destroyed some forty years later, and the people found themselves scattered once more throughout the earth. Yet they will yet see Him (Zechariah 12:10; Revelation 1:7) - but only when they have learned the true meaning of their familiar greeting: “Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord” (Psalm 118:26).