THE LOVE AND COMPASSION AND RESOLVE OF JESUS KEPT HIS MINISTRY ON TRACK DESPITE POTENTIAL DERAILMENT
Today’s ministry climate in America is certainly one of hate and all types of threats. The cultural divide has never been more volatile. There are serious issues on all sides – racial tension, social injustice, demonstrations and looting, anarchy and lawlessness – the list goes on. It is a difficult atmosphere to hold meaningful dialogue. One side shouts the other down with very little constructive interaction. Jesus can teach us a lot about ministering in a climate of hate and physical threats.
J. Ligon Duncan: He’s surrounded by people who want to kill Him. Herod wants Him dead. Most of the Pharisees want Him dead. Eventually, large crowds in Jerusalem will scream out, “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” Jesus had to know how to live when there were people who wanted Him dead and His example is important for us, not just when we face circumstances where we are persecuted.
I. (:31-33) THE RESOLVE OF JESUS KEPT HIS MINISTRY ON TRACK DESPITE POTENTIAL DERAILMENT –
THE REPORTED THREAT FROM HEROD
A. (:31) Reported Threat = Potential Derailment
“Just at that time some Pharisees came up, saying to Him,
‘Go away and depart from here, for Herod wants to kill You.’”
Geldenhuys: In Trans-Jordan, where Jesus most probably was at this time, the Jewish authorities did not have much power. The northern part was ruled by Philip and the southern part by Herod Antipas.
Steven Cole: We don’t know the Pharisees’ motives for warning Jesus, but given their hostility toward Him, perhaps they wanted to use Herod’s threat to scare Jesus out of Galilee (Herod’s jurisdiction) and toward Jerusalem, where they could deal with Him.
B. (:32-33) Response of Jesus – Resolve to Maintain His Ministry Course That Will Take Him to Death in Jerusalem = Ministry of Jesus Staying on Track
1. (:32) I Will Fulfill My Ministry
“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 reach My goal.’”
Morris: God, not Herod, will determine when He is to die.
Geldenhuys quoting T. W. Manson: “Fox” in Jewish use has a double sense. It typifies low cunning as opposed to straightforward dealings, and it is used in contrast to “lion” to describe an insignificant third-rate person as opposed to a person of real power and greatness. To call Herod “that fox” is as much as to say he is neither a great man nor a straight man; he has neither majesty nor honour.
Bruce Hurt: It speaks of journeying on, continuing the miraculous (signs) ministry without interruption or detours! Jesus is simply saying He would continue doing what He set out to do until He was finished, regardless of travel recommendations from the Pharisees or death threats from Herod. He would continue unperturbed and unhindered. His miracles would continue to attest to His power and authority over both the supernatural (casting out demons) and the natural world (healing) and were evidence that the Kingdom of God had come upon them (Lk 11:20, Mt 12:28).
Hughes: in the wider context of Luke, this was a cryptic reference to Jesus’ death and resurrection being under divine control. King Jesus had addressed Herod, the petty monarch, with regal contempt and kingly confidence. This was sovereign premeditation! As the Master said on another occasion when he affirmed that he would lay down his life for his sheep, “No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again” (John 10:18).
2. (:33) I Will Die in Jerusalem
“Nevertheless I must journey on today and tomorrow and the next day;
for it cannot be that a prophet should perish outside of Jerusalem.”
Deffinbaugh: Jesus made it clear that He knew He would die in Jerusalem. He was not naive of the danger. He was not oblivious to the pain and the persecution which was ahead. He was conscious that this was His calling.
J. Ligon Duncan: And you see what Jesus’ response is in verse 32. He ways, “I’m going to Jerusalem to die on purpose. I’m not scared that Herod wants to kill Me. And by the way, Herod can’t lay a finger on Me because I’m not going to die one minute before God wants Me to die. My job is to perform cures and to proclaim the Gospel and I will do that this day and tomorrow and the next day and then I will go to Jerusalem to die. My life is in God’s hands. God is providentially watching over Me. He has a purpose in My life and My purpose is to die, so I’m not afraid of death threats! I was born to die, but I won’t die here at the hand of Herod in Galilee. I’m going to Jerusalem. It’s in Jerusalem that I’m going to die.” The confidence of Jesus in the face of the threat of Herod, and perhaps the veiled threats of the Pharisees, is astounding. Why? Because He trusts in His Father’s providence. He’s not afraid. He knows the purpose of His life. He is unafraid.
II. (:34-35) THE LOVE AND COMPASSION OF JESUS KEPT HIS MINISTRY ON TRACK DESPITE POTENTIAL DERAILMENT—
LAMENT OVER JERUSALEM’S DEMISE
Lament – A lament or lamentation is a passionate expression of grief, often in music, poetry, or song form. The grief is most often born of regret, or mourning. Laments can also be expressed in a verbal manner, where the participant would lament about something they regret or someone they’ve lost, usually accompanied by wailing, moaning and/or crying. Laments constitute some of the oldest forms of writing and examples are present across human cultures. Many of the oldest and most lasting poems in human history have been laments. (Wikipedia)
A. (:34) Rejection of Jesus’ Love and Compassion by Jerusalem = Potential Derailment
1. History of Jerusalem Rejecting God’s Prophets
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets
and stones those sent to her!”
Morris: It is possible that Luke records the lament over Jerusalem at this point simply because of its kinship with the subject-matter. It seems more probably that it occurred as Jesus approached the city, as Matthew says it did. The alternative is that Jesus uttered the words twice, which does not seem likely.
Lenski: These words are full of deepest pathos. The Pharisees are cold and hard, but the heart of Jesus is surcharged with deepest sadness because of their obduracy and the coming judgment. There is no “reverberating thunder” in the repetition “Jerusalem, Jerusalem!” All we need to do is to compare these repetitions as they are found elsewhere . . . These repetitions voice tender love and concern.
2. Persistent Longing of Jesus to Protect and Shepherd
“How often I wanted to gather your children together,
just as a hen gathers her brood under her wings,”
Steven Cole: If God is sovereign and desires that all people be saved, then why are all people not saved? I hope that you have your thinking caps in place, because our text plunges us into one of the most difficult subjects in God’s Word: the relationship between God’s sovereignty and human responsibility. In approaching a difficult subject like this, we must avoid the tendency to keep it on an intellectual level.
3. Stubborn Rejection of Jesus by Jerusalem
“and you would not have it!”
MacArthur: That’s why God in, as Paul puts it, in Romans 10:21, says, “I have stretched out my hands all day long to a disobedient and obstinate people.” And he’s quoting Isaiah. All day long I reached out. All day long I put my wings out to catch you. You didn’t want it. All day long I wanted to gather you and protect you and you would not. That’s the word thelō, which means to want or to will or to desire. You didn’t want it. That’s the issue. Listen, beloved, that is always the issue with sinners, people who perish, perish because they don’t want it. The gospel gives no place to absolute determinism. While we believe in divine election and sovereign election and that those who are saved are saved by the will and the power and the sovereign choice of God, at the same time, we believe the Bible is crystal clear on teaching that people perish and go to hell because they refuse to believe. They make that choice. Now if you don’t understand how those two harmonize, join the human race. Nobody understands that, but you can’t change that. The Bible is filled with those kinds of invitations and those kinds of statements which hold the sinner completely responsible.
Steven Cole: These verses show us God’s great compassion toward sinners and the responsibility of sinners for their own judgment. We also see that sinners who reject the Lord do not in any way thwart His sovereign purpose. Someday there will be a multitude in Israel who will say in response to Jesus, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.” . . .
In our text, we see Jesus’ heart of compassion for the disobedient nation of Israel, which had repeatedly killed the prophets and stoned those whom God had sent to her. Even after Jerusalem’s horrible history of returning evil in response to God’s grace, here again Jesus calls out to her, telling her how much He wanted to gather her children together, just as a hen gathers her brood under her wings.
James Smith — THIS lament was over a guilty city, and reveals—
1. A Gracious Purpose. Not judgment, but salvation. “As a hen gathereth.”
2. Infinite Mercy. Gathered under His wings. Persecutors, murderers, etc.
3. Almighty Power. “How often would I.”
4. Longsuffering Compassion. “How often.”
5. Heart – Rending Anguish. “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem.”
6. Willful Resistance “But ye would not.”
7. Wounded Love. “Your house is left to you desolate”
B. (:35) Consequences of Rejecting Love and Compassion of Jesus = Ministry of Jesus Staying on Track
“Behold, your house is left to you desolate;”
2. Delay in Enjoying Kingdom Blessings
“and I say to you, you shall not see Me until the time comes
when you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’”
Steven Cole: Jesus not only issues a warning, but also a promise, that the nation would see Him again and this next time they will say, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord” (a quote from the messianic Psalm 118:26). As Paul argues in Romans 11:11-32, although God has set Israel aside in judgment during the present time of the Gentiles, when this period is fulfilled, Israel will experience a great turning back to God just before the second coming of Jesus the Messiah. At that time the prophecy of Zechariah 12:10 will be fulfilled, “And I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him, like the bitter weeping over a first-born.”
Anyabwile: We need Jeremiahs among us – weeping prophets. We ought to ask the Lord to examine our hearts to see if we are either too hard and uncaring or too brash in a worldly boldness. May the Lord by his Spirit give us the correct temper of brokenness and boldness to declare the gospel.