Friday, March 02, 2007

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

[For an explanation of what these passes are about and to read the first pass, go here. The second pass is here.]

Verse-by-Verse Comments (continued)
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!
(1) These are among the most consequential and interesting words Jesus ever spoke. It's an incredible window on the nature and personality of God. Among the things it shows us are:
  • God never gives up on His love for us. In spite of centuries of rejection, God never forgot that the people of Israel, now conquered or dispersed and beaten down, were His people. They were be the beneficiaries of salvation and through them, in the person of Christ, Israel was still a light to the nations. God's love is tenacious.
  • Here, we see Jesus, God enfleshed, portraying Himself with female imagery, a hen with its chicks. According to Genesis 1:27, men and women reflect various aspects of God. The Old Testament often refers to God as "compassionate," a word which, in the original Hebrew, had the word for womb in its root. Those who claim that they can't pray to God because of masculine imagery forget passages and images like these.
(2) The contest of wills that permeates our lesson is seen here. Twice, verbs with the root, theleo, which means to will something, appear in this verse. Jesus says, "How often I willed/wished to gather the children of you..." And then, Jesus expresses the rebellious will of Jerusalem, "and you willed not."

The life of faith, rarely easy, consists in the surrender to the Father's will which Jesus expresses in Luke 22:42.

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.’”
(1) In 70AD, Jesus knew, Jerusalem would be destroyed by the Romans, in the process of crushing a Judean rebellion. The houses of Jerusalem, including its "house of worship," the Temple would be destroyed. But for now, the willful people of Jerusalem would have their houses.

(2) Only when people see Jesus with the eyes of faith can they declare Him to be the One Who comes in the Name of the Lord. Similar words were used by the Jerusalem crowds to welcome Jesus on the Sunday before these events, on what we call Palm Sunday. Those crowds could apparently see what the Pharisees Jesus here addresses couldn't.

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