Opening Prayer Thoughts.
Praise God that he loves his people and that he cares for us in innumerable ways. Praise God for the physical blessings we enjoy each day, and for the spiritual privileges that he lays before us in a manner that we can easily digest and benefit from.
Confess the sin of taking so much for granted in our lives. Ask God to help us value what we have in Christ, and both enjoy and delight in him.
Please ask the Holy Spirit's help as you come to his Word.
Please read Luke 13:31-35
Will you 'gather in' with Jesus?
V31. Jesus, your life is under threat.
This is a passage that opens with a measure of intrigue. It involves the Pharisees, nothing unusual in that, they were always round and about when Jesus was teaching; what is interesting is how their exchange with Jesus begins. Reading it, one could get the impression that, for once, with their warning to Jesus that Herod is threatening to kill him, they are being sympathetic to Jesus. Certainly, that is what one of the commentators I am using thinks. He reasons that, despite their vigorous opposition to Jesus, they warned Jesus, because "they recognized that they stood much closer to him than they did to Herod." I think it is probably more likely that when they heard what Herod was saying, they thought that by warning Jesus, they would get him to leave the region, and, at the same time, come across as the nice guys to the crowds. I find it difficult to accept that there was anything benevolent in their thinking. If they could get Jesus to leave where he was, a place where he was mobbed with crowds, and get him to make his way to Jerusalem, then they could utilize their influence in the city to maximum effect. Herod's statement gave them the pretext to pursue their long-held agenda, and they went for it. Remember, these men have been conspiring together for some time how they might destroy Jesus, Matthew 12:14.
V32. Go and tell the fox.
Jesus' response expresses utter contempt for Herod. He knows that Herod probably has no intention of killing him, even though he must have said something to that effect. After all, the killing of John the Baptist happened on a drunken night, when Herod was beguiled and acted to keep face among his friends. We know that what he had done had played on his mind, Luke 9:7-9, and it is evident from what transpires later, Luke 23:8, that Herod wanted to see Jesus so he could see him do a miracle. By calling Herod a 'fox', Jesus is sending a message back to him – 'you are a manipulative, deceitful man, and I have no time for you'. Doing so in public also signaled to Herod that Jesus was wholly unafraid of him. As far as Jesus was concerned, he is going to continue his work as planned. In referring only to his miracles, "cast out demons and perform cures", and not to his teaching, Jesus is telling Herod, 'don't threaten me, haven't you heard about what I can do? I have power over the demons and physical diseases, and you come nipping at me like a fox?'
The setting of a time frame is obviously not literal in terms of the number of days; it is metaphorical. Jesus is letting Herod know that he is working to a time scale, and it is limited. When he has finished what he has to do in Perea, he will go to Jerusalem to fulfil what he must do.
V33. Herod doesn't even know his own religious history/culture.
There is a parting, cutting statement to Herod, assuming that what Jesus says gets back to him, and there is no reason to think that it won't. The idea that Herod would try to threaten Jesus is nonsensical because everyone knew that Jerusalem had a monopoly on killing prophets. Prophets were not killed in the regions; if they were to perish, they did so in Jerusalem. Jesus is saying to Herod, 'calm yourself and let me get on with my work'.
V34. Jerusalem, Jerusalem.
Jesus declares a lament for Jerusalem. Again, we have a choice to make; either Luke is reciting the same lament as the one Matthew records taking place in the temple in Jerusalem, Matthew 23:37-39, or Jesus said the same thing twice, once here in Perea and then in Jerusalem. Again, the commentators are divided, and I am going to let you mull over this one for yourself if you want to. That's not avoiding the issue; it's simply letting you consider it for yourself.
The lament itself is full of intense emotion and incredible tenderness. The hearts of the Pharisees are cold and hard, but not that of the Lord's. He is almost overwhelmed with sadness when he thinks about the inhabitants of Jerusalem. Lenski writes, "There is no 'reverberating thunder' in the repetition 'Jerusalem, Jerusalem!'" And he goes on to show how the usage of such repetitions in 2 Samuel 18:33, when David speaks of his son Absalom, and in Luke 10:41 when Jesus addresses Martha, and in Acts 9:4 where he says, “Saul, Saul,” in a "voice tender with love and concern".
Jerusalem, the nation's capital and religious epicentre, is named 'Jerusalem' because it means 'city of peace'. Yet violence has marked her dealings with those whom God has sent to bring His Word. She had become a citadel of death for the prophets of God and those who supported them, and yet God has not rejected her. “How often” Jesus had sought to declare the truth of salvation in the city. In his gospel, John covers the ministry of Jesus in Jerusalem much more extensively than do the Synoptics. A ministry that Jesus expresses in beautiful imagery. God would have gathered his people around him, like a bird does her chicks, under her wings. (The original doesn't specifically say “hen”.) Jesus would have gathered his people, this nation, about him, but they refused to come and take shelter under his wings, even though it was graciously and tenderly offered to them. The emphaticness is lost in the English; literally, it means 'you will NOT'. No explanation is given as to why they would not do it, no reason offered. It is just a statement of fact, but what a statement of fact. In the face of the love of Jesus, they rejected him. The gospel was freely offered and freely refused. Men and women acted according to their human nature, dead in their trespasses and sins, in bondage to sin and Satan, in their blindness and with their hearts veiled, they refused Christ. It was an act of their free will to do so, and they did it.
V35. The departing of God.
God is longsuffering and patient beyond all reason, but there does come the point, as the history of the Old Testament shows, where God will say, 'no more'. And how that became a reality following the persecution of the Bride in the first century AD. God no longer 'dwells' in that city. One day, though, Jerusalem will acknowledge the King of Kings, as Jesus declared here in his quoting of Psalm 118:26, "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” On that day, all men will bend the knee and know Christ to be who he is.
This is a sobering thought for the church, a congregation, how God can be in the midst of a church and then depart. He can depart by either allowing her to decline to the point of non-existence, or depart by allowing her to grow in the adulation of man and self. Yes, the numbers increase, and everyone is happy, but God is not in the midst of what is happening; he has left. The only way to avoid such a departure, and the terrible consequences that ensue, is to be gathered in with Jesus. To be gathered into him through his Word, prayer, and wholehearted obedience. What a privilege that we can experience that by his grace and love.
Sing with joy in our heart to the Lord.
Psalm 84B - Link to the words. Link to it being sung.
It is a privilege to lay into our hearts and minds the light and truth of God's Word.
Romans 1:16-17 - For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed, from faith for faith, as it is written, "The righteous shall live by faith."
Truth for the Mind and Heart.
Westminster Shorter Catechism, Question 99 - What rule has God given for our direction in prayer?
Answer - The whole Word of God is of use to direct us in prayer, but the special rule of direction is that form of prayer which Christ taught his disciples, commonly called the Lord's Prayer.
This is taken from https://matt2819.com/wsc where you will find proof texts.
Thank God that Jesus was not frightened by the scaremongering of men.
Thank God that Jesus knew the course that he was on and would not be deflected from it.
Pray that we would be equally fearless and focused, as we walk, by his grace, the path of righteousness that he has set before us.
Take care in Christ,
Rev. Dr. Andrew Quigley
Minister, Ottawa RPC