31At that very hour some Pharisees came and said to him, “Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you.” 32He 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. 33Yet 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.’ 34Jerusalem, 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! 35See, 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.’”
Oremus online text: http://bible.oremus.org/?passage=Luke+13:31-35&vnum=yes&version=nrsv
Textweek general resources for this week: http://www.textweek.com/yearc/lentc2.htm
Textweek resources for Luke’s Gospel this week: http://www.textweek.com/mtlk/lk9a.htm
Chris Haslam’s commentary: http://montreal.anglican.org/comments/archive/cepfll.shtml
O God of salvation, the people in whom you delight hasten with joy to the wedding feast. Forsaken no more, we bear a new name; desolate no longer, we taste your new wine. Make us your faithful stewards ready to do whatever Jesus tells us and eager to share with others the wine he provides. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
From Prayers for Sunday and Seasons, Year C, Peter J. Scagnelli, LTP, 1992.
A Few Thoughts:
The passage today contains within unique verses and that are found only here in the Gospel of Luke. The pericope or whole passage begins actually in verse 22 and while I don’t think that one should necessarily elongate the Gospel reading in the service, I do think that for the purposes of bible study and for sermon preparation it is important to read the whole section as one unit.
The passage begins with Jesus traveling. He is making his way to Jerusalem. These passages are wonderful bits of narration by our author and show a skilled writer imparting and telling a story. More than simply literary style the passage reminds us tat our great prophet Jesus is making an exodus journey, prophetically teaching along the way, leading God’s people to ultimate deliverance from the bondage of sin. This is part of the mosaic theme I touched on in the pre-reading and background materials.
“How many will be saved?” a companion asks. Interesting is Jesus’ response. He does not give a number but rather turns the question offering discipline instead of answers. Jesus says to them that as followers we are to “act in such a way as to be one who is saved.” (LTJ, Luke, 216)
Notice if you put your finger in your bible and turn to Matthew 7:13, Matthew compares and contrasts a wide and a narrow door. (LTJ, Luke, 216) Luke’s emphasis is on the difficulty of being a disciple; he is focused on the hard work of following Jesus and a life lived in discipleship.
There is no assumption that the door once knocked upon will be opened. No for Jesus, in this moment, we see him saying it is going to be difficult for those who do not follow. There will be many who come and follow. Recalling the Holy Spirit’s work in Acts, we see Jesus here offering us a sense that God’s reign is breaking out into the world and people from all over will come to be a part and because of their work within the reign of God they will be granted entrance.
Luke has a strong sense of grace, but it is tempered always with service and discipleship.
It is as if to say that if you are wealthy and health you must believe, but you may not rest upon the grace of the door simply being opened for you. Once you know the truth, you may not live your life as if you did not hoping in the last hour for grace at the doorstep of the master’s house. In fact your entrance into the reign of God will be because you believed and because you worked with Jesus on behalf of the poor and those in need.
As I write this I am wondering, is it possible that once one believes the second step is to serve others; because as Jesus welcomes the poor through the door you may by the grace of those who remember your service walk with them into the reign of God?
Certainly this is present in the thoughts of St. Chrysostom as he writes the following words:
"If you ever wish to associate with someone make sure that you do not give your attention to those who enjoy health and wealth and fame as the world sees it, but take care of those in affliction, in critical circumstances, who are utterly deserted and enjoy no consolation. Put a high value on associating with these, for from them you shall receive much profit, and you will do all for the glory of God. God himself has said: I am the father of orphans and the protector of widows."
This short quote does the work of N. T. Wright (a contemporary theologian and Bishop of Durham) some injustice but I think it is important to mention here. For a longer argument on this matter of balancing faith and works I encourage you to read Wright’s book entitled: Justification: God’s Plan and Paul’s Vision, 2009. In this text Wright argues that the work of discipleship is essential within the framework of faith. He writes the following as if to echo Jesus’ own essential teaching about the reign of God and the work of discipleship:
"The linguistic point about Romans 5-8 (the absence of pistis [faith]) thus points to an underlying theological point of enormous significance for our whole topic. Loose talk about “salvation by faith” (a phrase Paul never uses; the closest he gets, as we have seen is Ephesians 2:8, “by grace you have been saved through faith”) can seriously mislead people into supposing that you can construct an entire Pauline soteriology out of the sole elements of “faith” and “works” of any sort always being ruled out as damaging or compromising the purity of faith." (p. 239)
All that is to say that one must work hard to get into heaven, and that the primary focus is not simply about following Jesus, but that discipleship means acting like Jesus and helping God to restore the world. It is within this context that we come to the passage for today.
Some Pharisees come up to Jesus. They are consistently throughout Luke recognized and described as opponents of the prophets. So, here they come, and one must wonder if they have Jesus’ best interest at heart. One might even go so far as to think that perhaps what they are saying is to stop this preaching, stop this teaching, get out of here and there won’t be trouble. Jesus is heading to Jerusalem and I do not have the sense they want him to continue on his journey. This is certainly the way most scholars read this warning, not as a warning at all but rather a threat veiled in kindness.
They tell Jesus that Herod wants to kill him. This is very different than the message being told to the reader by the narrator in 9.9 and 23.8. Herod simply wants to see him and it isn’t even Herod in the end that puts him to death. Herod sends him back to Pilate. Again, this seems to amplify the Pharisees desire to have Jesus stop teaching about discipleship and the reign of God.
Jesus says to the messengers go back and tell that crafty person, that sly king, that fox that I continue on to my goal which is resurrection (the image here of the third day). Chris Haslam points out that we may not wish to take this literally. He writes, “Jesus did not mean “third” literally; rather, he means a short and limited time. The NRSV translates the Greek literally, but BlkLk translates it as day by day, and one day soon. He says that there is an Aramaic idiom behind the Greek which does not refer to two actual days but to an indefinite short period followed by a still indefinite, but certain, event. This idiom is also at work in Hosea 6:2: “After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will raise us up, that we may live before him”.
Sometimes we can miss the point if we get stuck here. I believe the subject of Jesus’ words is the determination to go on to Jerusalem and that there he intends to die. So it is that Jesus continues on to Jerusalem and the pharisees depart.
It is then that Jesus teaches about the prophets and how they have suffered under the stoning nature of God’s rulers and people. Jesus’ message is clear; God wants to gather his person like a hen gathers her brood. God wishes to offer care and protection.
Jesus says your “house” is not being left. Some scholars believe this has to do with the sacking and destruction of the Temple. It is more likely that Jesus is referring to God’s people being left, as it were, like sheep without a shepherd, chicks without a mother hen. (LTJ, Luke, 219) Haslam also points out the following, “Verse 35: “your house”: The Old Testament background seems to be Jeremiah 22:1-9 where house means the king’s household of leaders. [NJBC] I like both ideas very much. And we might be wise to remember Jesus in his own family’s synagogue and how he was received.
There are in these thoughts the continuing theme of each Gospel proclamation that Jesus and God are calling people out of their comfortable religion into a discipleship of faith along the way and always proclaiming the reign of God and its bounty.
We conclude this passage with “Blessed is the one who is coming in the name of the Lord.” This looks forward to Jesus’ own triumphal entry into Jerusalem. It also is a prophecy regarding Jesus’ return. The parallels are found in Matthew 21:9, Psalm 117:26. It is important I think to note that the psalm is referring to “the stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.” Christians have always understood this to mean Jesus.
So we end with the understanding, I think, that one of the chief reasons that Jesus is crucified is because of his teachings about the reign of God and discipleship. Jesus also understands clearly that his death in Jerusalem is only part of reaching the third day and resurrection which is a primary goal of his ministry. I believe truly that Jesus understood his death as essential to the working out of salvation history and that he was following a long line of prophetic witnesses. He could not be stopped in his work and his drive to enter Jerusalem, which meant for him certain death on the one hand, but also the salvific event needed to gather God’s people under his wing. Indeed, blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
The Lambeth Bible Study Method
This Bible study method was introduced by the African Delegation to the Lambeth Conference of the Anglican Church. It is known by both names: "Lambeth" and "African." This method is derived from the practice of Lectio Divina. The entire process should take about 30 minutes.
Question #5: "Briefly identify where this passage touches their life today," can change based upon the lesson. Find lesson oriented questions at this website: http://www.dcdiocese.org/word-working-second-question
Opening Prayer: O Blessed Lord, who caused all Holy Scripture to be written for our learning. Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them that we may embrace and hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which you have given us in our savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
1. One person reads passage. This person then invites a member of the group to begin the process.
2. Each person briefly identifies the word or phrase that catches their attention then invites another person to share.
3. Each shares the word or phrase until all have shared or passed using the same invitation method.
4. The passage is read a second time, preferably from a different translation. The reader then invites a person in the group to begin the process.
5. Each person briefly identifies where this passage touches their life today, and then invites someone who has not shared yet.
6. The passage is read a third time, also from another translation, and the reader invites a person to start the process.
7. Each person responds to the questions, "What does God want me to do, to be or to change?"
8. The group stands up in a circle and holds hands. One person initiates the prayer “I thank God today for …” and “I ask God today for…” The prayer goes around the circle by squeezing the hand to your right.
9. When the circle is fulfilled, the person who initiated the prayer starts the Lord’s Prayer, “Our father…”