Wednesday, February 28, 2007

First Pass at This Weekend's Bible Lesson: Luke 13:31-35

[Most weeks, I present as many updates on my reflections and study of the Biblical texts on which our weekend worship celebrations will be built as I can. The purpose is to help the people of the congregation I serve as pastor, Friendship Lutheran Church of Amelia, Ohio, get ready for worship. Hopefully, it's helpful to others as well, since our Bible lesson is usually one from the weekly lectionary, variations of which are used in most of the churches of the world.]

The Bible Lesson: Luke 13:31-35
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.’”

General Comments
1. This is one of three lessons that are drawn from Luke, chapter 13, in the C or Luke year of the lectionary. (Remember that there are three yearly sets of lessons, each set called a lectionary. We're in Year C, with the bulk of the Gospel lessons coming from Luke.)

2. Luke 13:31-33 are unique to the Gospel of Luke, whereas vv. 34-35 are similar to verses found in Matthew's Gospel.

3. The broader context in which this lesson falls is a great section of Luke's Gospel which runs from Luke 9:51 to 19:28. We might call it The Journey to Jerusalem. In it, Jesus is seen as being intent on fulfilling His mission of being crucified and of rising from the dead in that city. Along the way, He meets people who, for various reasons, either attempt to stop Him from fulfilling that mission or spurn Him because that's His destination. But Jesus is faithful and will not be deterred.

Considering the more immediate context, it follows a place where Jesus says that salvation won't necessarily belong to those who can claim that they had eaten and drunk with Him or that He once taught in their streets. This gives some poignance to Jesus' weeping over Jerusalem in our lesson.

4. One of the most interesting aspects to consider about this passage is that "some Pharisees" warn Jesus that Herod is determined to kill Jesus. Was this group of Pharisees, members of a sect of Judaism so often opposed to Jesus, sympathetic to Him? Were they trying to save Jesus' life? Or were they afraid of the consequences of a confrontation between Jesus and Herod? Or were they, like so many people in this section of Luke, doing what they could to thwart Jesus in His intention of going to Jerusalem? We don't know for certain. But I'm inclined to think that it was a combination of fear over a confrontation and a desire to prevent Jesus from going to the very center of religious life, where His considerable popularity might grow.

Tomorrow, I hope to post verse-by-verse comments.

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