Skip to comments."A Man on a Mission, a Man of Compassion" (Sermon for the Second Sunday in Lent, on Luke 13:31-35)
Posted on 02/23/2013 6:57:27 PM PST by Charles Henrickson
A Man on a Mission, a Man of Compassion (Luke 13:31-35)
In the Holy Gospel for today, we see two aspects of Jesus character come to the forefront: 1) He is a man on a mission. And 2) He is a man of compassion. And in both aspects, both his mission and his compassion, Jesus focus today is on Jerusalem. Lets find out what all of this has to do with us.
First, Jesus is a man on a mission. That comes through loud and clear in the first half of our text, where it says: At that very hour some Pharisees came and said to [Jesus], Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you. And he said to them, Go and tell that fox, Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I finish my course. Nevertheless, I must go on my way today and tomorrow and the day following, for it cannot be that a prophet should perish away from Jerusalem.
Now it is loud and clear here that Jesus is a man on a mission and that that mission will take him to Jerusalem. But what may not be so clear at first glance is this business about the Pharisees and Herod and Go tell that fox. So let me explain.
Jesus had been busy for some time now with his ministry in the region of Galilee. Hes been preaching and teaching, healing the sick, casting out demons, and calling disciples. Jesus has been attracting large crowds and gaining a lot of attention. And all the while hes also been making some enemies, people who oppose him. Those would include the Pharisees. Jesus has exposed the Pharisees for their hypocrisy, for their wanting to look good and pious in front of people, but in their hearts not really humbling themselves before God. Jesus called them out on this stuff, and they didnt like it. Jesus was hurting their image. He was exposing their pride and sinfulness. So the Pharisees in Galilee had reason to want to get Jesus out of their hair.
The other party involved here is this fellow Herod. Now whenever you say Herod in the New Testament, youve got to keep them all straight, because there are several Herods. This one is Herod Antipas, the tetrarch of Galilee. Hes the same Herod who had John the Baptist put to death. And now, the Pharisees tell Jesus, Herod wants to kill you. Did Herod really want to kill Jesus, or were the Pharisees just saying this to try to scare Jesus out of the territory? Or maybe Herod wanted to get Jesus out of the region, and thats why he fed this rumor to the Pharisees, so they would report it to Jesus. Who knows? Our text doesnt say.
But in any case, one thing is clear: Jesus is not going to be scared into leaving or changing his timetable just because of a threat. Hes got a little more work to do here in Galilee, and then its on to Jerusalem. Jesus is in charge of his own schedule. Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I finish my course.
And its what he says after this that makes it clear his mission will take him to Jerusalem: Nevertheless, I must go on my way today and tomorrow and the day following, for it cannot be that a prophet should perish away from Jerusalem. But this is very strange, isnt it? Jesus is going to Jerusalem--OK, we can understand that. But what is he going there to do? For it cannot be that a prophet should perish away from Jerusalem. Perish? This sounds like hes saying hes going to Jerusalem to die! Yes, thats what this mission is about. A journey to Jerusalem, in order to be rejected and be killed. Jesus knows what hes getting into, and yet still he goes.
Think back to how this theme has been developing so far in the gospel. After Jesus baptism, when hes being tempted in the wilderness by the devil, one of those temptations is for Jesus to throw himself off the pinnacle of the temple, to land unhurt, and thus win the acclaim of the crowds in Jerusalem. But that will not be how Jesus will accomplish his mission. No, even when the crowds at the cross later will say, Come down off the cross and we will believe in you, Jesus resists that temptation, for that will not be how he reaches his goal.
Or think about how, after Peters great confession, You are the Christ, Jesus began predicting his passion, his suffering: The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. This is what will happen in Jerusalem. This is how the mission will play out.
Or again, at Jesus transfiguration, Moses and Elijah are talking with Jesus about what? His departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. And after the transfiguration it says, When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem.
Jesus set his face to go to Jerusalem, knowing that rejection and suffering and death await him there. He is determined. Theres no stopping him or diverting him from finishing his course. Jesus has a clear sense of where he is going and what he is doing. Thats what were seeing in our text today. A man on a mission.
But why is he doing this? Why is Jesus so determined, knowing what awaits him in Jerusalem? Two reasons: First, he came to do the will of his Father, and this is what the Father wills. This is the Fathers plan for the salvation of the world. And secondly, Jesus is doing this for you. This is the only way the goal will be reached, the mission accomplished. You have sins that need to be atoned for, and you cant do it. You have death hanging over your head, and you cant change that. But Jesus can, and he does. For he is the very Son of God, come to do his Fathers will, which is to save sinful mankind. The blood he will shed on the cross, for you--this is the only thing that can pay the debt of your sins. The resurrection that he will thus procure--this is the only thing that will take the sting out of death for you. This then is the mission that Jesus is on. It will take him to Jerusalem--hes got his face set for there. And so theres no stopping him until he reaches his goal.
So along with this text showing us Jesus as a man on a mission, it also shows us Jesus as a man of compassion. See the tender, kind, loving heart of our Lord, that he would do this for you! For all us rebel sinners, who have defied God in so many ways. And yet God loves us. Jesus willingly goes the way of the cross for us. What supreme love and compassion this is!
Hear this compassion in Jesus voice, as his heart aches for the city that will reject him and kill him: O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not! Behold, your house is forsaken. And I tell you, you will not see me until you say, Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!
Of all cities, Jerusalem should have been the one to welcome the Messiah. Jerusalem had every advantage. How many times God had sent prophets to her, calling Jerusalem and the nation to repentance. But how many times had Jerusalem rejected those prophets. And now God was sending his own Son, and they would reject him also. And with that ultimate rejection, Gods ultimate judgment would fall on Jerusalem. Forty years after rejecting their Messiah and putting him to death, Jerusalem would fall at the hands of the Romans in A.D. 70. The temple was destroyed, leveled, never to be rebuilt, down to this very day. Behold, your house is left to you desolate.
But judgment is not Jesus--or Gods--primary will. The primary or proper will of God is to save. Jesus says, How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings. Here we see the grace and mercy of our God. Jesus wanted to gather the people of Jerusalem to himself, to take them under the shelter of his wings, as a hen gathers her chicks. But Gods grace is not irresistible. Jerusalem said no. How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not! You would not! You were not willing, Jerusalem!
Sadly, people still say no to God and his offer of grace and forgiveness and salvation. They say no. No thank you, Jesus, I dont think I need a Savior. I dont think Im that bad of a person. Ill be fine on my own. What foolishness, what stupidity, what utter blindness that is! But that is what Jerusalem was saying, that is what people today are saying, when they reject Jesus.
And so it is to this day, all around us. So many in our community, maybe even in our own family--so many in our nation and world--so many are so self-secure, so hardened in their unbelief. They think they dont need Jesus and what he offers. They dont think they need the church, which is Christs church, his place, his people, his ministry, whereby the gospel of salvation goes out in his name. But know this: All those who think they dont need Jesus as their Savior--theyre wrong, dead wrong. There is no hope for them, apart from Christ. He is the one and only Savior God has sent into the world, for all men, everywhere. There is no other. This is why they--this is why we--all of us need to repent and believe the gospel.
So how is it with you? Will you be gathered in? Or will you try to go it on your own? Do you think you have what it takes to take care of your sins and overcome your death? Good luck with that. But rather, dear friends, today look to Jesus, look to your compassionate Savior for your salvation. He is the man on a mission, who willingly goes to Jerusalem for your sake. He is the man of compassion, who wants to gather you under his wings and shelter you from the storm and from every danger. O my brothers and sisters in Christ, you are safe and secure--for eternity--with him!
At that very hour some Pharisees came and said to [Jesus], Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you. And he said to them, Go and tell that fox, Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I finish my course. Nevertheless, I must go on my way today and tomorrow and the day following, for it cannot be that a prophet should perish away from Jerusalem. O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not! Behold, your house is forsaken. And I tell you, you will not see me until you say, Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!
Children of the heavnly Father
Safely in His bosom gather;
Nestling bird nor star in Heaven
Such a refuge eer was given.
God His own doth tend and nourish;
In His holy courts they flourish;
From all evil things He spares them;
In His mighty arms He bears them.
Neither life nor death shall ever
From the Lord His children sever;
Unto them His grace He showeth,
And their sorrows all He knoweth.
Though He giveth or He taketh,
God His children neer forsaketh;
His the loving purpose solely
To preserve them pure and holy.
The tragedy behind these lyrics is nearly as intense as that which inspired H Stafford Smith to write "When Peace like a River" (sometimes known as "It is Well with my soul"). From the Cyberhymnal entry:
Words: Karolina W. Sandell-Berg, Andeliga daggdroppar, 1858 (Tryggare kan ingen vara); translated from Swedish to English by Ernst W. Olson in The Hymnal, 1925. Shortly before writing this hymn, Sandell and her father were on a boat trip, when he fell overboard and drowned before her eyes. It is thought this tragedy gave birth to the lyrics