31 At that very hour some Pharisees came and said to him, “Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you.” 32 He 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. 33 Yet 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.’ 34 Jerusalem, 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! 35 See, 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.’” (Luke 13:31-35 NRSV)
I don’t know much about foxes. I do know what happens when they get into the hen house. In ancient Judaism they were a symbol of both deceit and maliciousness and intelligence and strength. They were considered unclean and should be avoided.
We know about Herod Antipas: a petty tyrant in cahoots with Rome. His religion is conniving. He’s rich and he’s cruel.
“That fox” likes to get into hen houses and take what he can get. He stomps and even kills in order to get his way. He uses the “chicks” to gain favor with Rome. He will stop at nothing.
He’s a conniver. Perhaps he’s told the Pharisees to warn Jesus away from his territory. Jesus is way too popular. Let him stray into Pilate’s arena. Let Pilate deal with him.
We meet Jesus in this passage confronting obstacles: threat of death, politics, religious rebellion, selfish ambition, even violence. He won’t let it stop him. He confronts it with courage, evidently understanding that it’ll probably be the death of him.
Go tell that fox what I’m doing. “I’m casting out demons and performing cures…” (verse 32.) What are you doing, fox? What are doing to repair this broken world? How are you making a difference? I’m hurting no one. Can you say the same thing?
Then he turns around an gazes on the beloved city, Jerusalem.
His vision has been the same all along: healing, freeing, teaching. He’s traveled through Galilee fulfilling this mission. Now he makes his way to Jerusalem, the very heart of politics and greed and hubris. The place where prophets come to die. The city that was meant to honor and worship God.
That’s his goal: Jerusalem. Humanity. You and me.
Last week we entered the Season of Lent. A season marked by lengthening days while we watch the Light of the World being snuffed out. A special season of opportunity to spend time with the Christ, working out our own salvation. What is in the way of your fully enjoying Jesus? This is a good time to work on it. How is it going for you?
My own work is moving slowly. I’m trying to make the change only to fall down. I forgot to invite Jesus in. In morning meditation I try to give it back to God so that God can provide what I need.
This passage reminds me of something very important and something I need to hear as much as I believe you need to hear. Thankfully this is the scripture reading for this week: a reminder of just how much God loves you and me.
It’s easy to read about God described as silent distant, judgemental. It’s easy to find scripture proving that God is loving, kind and merciful.
But, yearning? Right here in front of us we read about God yearning to gather us under divine wings. Later, in Luke’s Gospel, Jesus will weep over Jerusalem and her destiny of total destruction.
God yearns. God weeps. God moves past all obstacles for all of us. God moves past all obstacles, crossing over fences and boundaries to reach all of God’s people.
God, who is bigger than we can imagine. This powerful God yearns for us. Yearns to be in our lives. Yearns to breathe new life into us.
I don’t know about you, but that brings me to my knees. I’m humbled. In response we bring to God our Lenten work. We want to be closer to God to feel this yearning love.
It also scares us. So much so that we hang onto our hangups and idols for a little while longer. It’s okay. God is as patient as God is yearning. Keep praying. Continue to work out your salvation. Do it knowing that on the other side of this chasm is a waiting and patient and loving God.
Blessed is he who comes in the name in the Lord.
May your Season of Lent be filled with the possibility of transformation and God’s yearning love for you.
All glory and honor be to God.