Luke 13:31 ¶ At that very hour some Pharisees came and said to him, “Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you.”
Luke 13:32 He said to them, “Go and tell that fox for me, ‘Listen, I am casting out demons and performing cures today and tomorrow, and on the third day I finish my work.
Luke 13:33 Yet today, tomorrow, and the next day I must be on my way, because it is impossible for a prophet to be killed outside of Jerusalem.’
Luke 13:34 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!
Luke 13:35 See, your house is left to you. And I tell you, you will not see me until the time comes when you say, ‘Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.’”
What seems so unusual about this scripture is that the Pharisees seem out of character. Why would they suddenly come to Jesus to warn him that Herod wanted to kill him? This seems far too kind for them! And the truth is, it was too kind for them. They presented themselves before Jesus with false sincerity and really had an ulterior motive. They were the ones who wanted Jesus to leave the region for he was becoming far too popular. Under the pretense of protecting Jesus from Herod (who had already beheaded John the Baptist) they came to “protect” him.
Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem, the very place where he knew he was to continue his ministry and yet, the religious leaders really did not want him there. Jesus tells them that they can tell Herod, “that fox” just exactly what he’s up to! He is “casting out demons and performing cures” and he will continue to do so until his work is finished! This is also a message directly to the Pharisees that Jesus has a plan and even their “best efforts” to thwart those plans will not keep him from moving onward to Jerusalem.
This section ends with Jesus’ lament for Jerusalem. His heart is breaking with his love for the city and all that she symbolizes for the people of faith. The religious leaders wanted to keep him away for their own sake, and Jesus wanted to go and die there for their sake. The true heart of love is revealed in the response of Christ.
There are times in life when we used “veiled” language because we don’t really want to tackle the issue head on! One of the most memorable conversations that I had with my husband Chuck was when we were young and stilling trying to figure out what this relationship was supposed to be. We had gotten to know one another a bit but we weren’t sure about this “dating” thing. He came to me one Sunday evening and we had a rather cryptic conversation. He told me that he had a “friend” who was interested in a girl — and you can imagine how the rest of the story went. He was wondering what type of advice to give his “friend” — as to whether this girl might be willing to go out with him or not. I told him that it was probably a good suggestion to tell his “friend” that I suspected the girl would probably say “yes,” if he would ask! He thanked me for the advice and then went on his way. Of course, I assumed he was talking about the two of us but when he didn’t call until Thursday to ask me out I had plenty of time to doubt the conversation. But I was right - and more than 30 years later, I’m glad it was about us.
The Pharisees certainly did not want to appear that they were against Jesus. This would not have looked good for them and so using “veiled” language they tried to appear caring and very spiritual in their conversation with Jesus. But time would reveal that they were simply worrying about themselves and when using Herod as a ruse didn’t work, they finally got their own hands dirty and took care of the business of Jesus.
Unfortunately people in the world are tired of the false sincerity of Christians. They want Christians to be transparent and genuine, knowing that through and through, what they say and what they do are rooted in their faith. Jesus was genuine to the core and his love for Jerusalem was not only borne out in his lament over the city, but in his follow-through.
As imitators of Christ we must be genuine in our passion for the lost. Lament and follow-through will reveal to the world that our faith is sincere.
Lord, may I be genuine and sincere in my faith today, and every day. Amen.