Summary: Obstacles, even death, do not distract Jesus from completing the work his Father has given him. What is keeping you from completing the work your Father has given you?
Please turn in your Bibles to Luke’s Gospel, chapter 13:31.
The same day there came certain of the Pharisees, saying unto him, Get thee out, and depart hence: for Herod will kill thee. And he said unto them, Go ye, and tell that fox, Behold, I cast out devils, and I do cures to day and to morrow, and the third day I shall be perfected. Nevertheless I must walk to day, and to morrow, and the day following: for it cannot be that a prophet perish out of Jerusalem. O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate: and verily I say unto you, Ye shall not see me, until the time come when ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.
This morning we looked at the previous verses in a message titled, “When the Master Rises.” The dominating theme of the text was not God’s judgment, but the dangerous delay of people who waited too long. The Master rises, he shuts the door to his house, and many people find themselves outside the house unable to enter. The parable is part of Jesus’ answer to the question, “Are there few that be saved?” Today’s text happens on that same day.
Not all Pharisees were bad. The people divided Pharisees into seven different classes. There were “shoulder Pharisees” that wore their good deeds on their shoulders and performed them in sight of men. There were the “wait-a-little Pharisees”, who could always put off a good deed until tomorrow. Then you had the “bruised and bleeding Pharisees”, my personal favorite. No Jewish Rabbi could be seen talking to any woman on the street, not even his wife or mother or sister. But certain Pharisees went further, to not even look at a woman on the street; they even shut their eyes to avoid seeing the woman. So they ran into walls and houses, bruising themselves. These bruises became badges of piety that they showed off.
There were “pestle and mortar Pharisees, sometimes called “hump-backed Pharisees”. They walked bent over in a fake and cringing humility. We have “ever reckoning Pharisees” who always kept a balance sheet of their good deeds for God. “Timid and fearing Pharisees” were ever in fear of God, not helped but haunted by their religion. Finally there were “God-loving Pharisees.” So you may well have six bad Pharisees for every one good one (William Barclay, The Gospel of Luke, The Daily Bible Study Series, Westminster Press, Philadelphia, 1975, 185). Here we have some who are trying to protect Jesus from the wrath of the wicked King Herod.
Protecting the Lord from Herod was noble. Caesar once said it was better to be Herod’s dog than his son, for he killed his sons in fits of jealous rage. But their concern was misplaced. Jesus had a cup to drink, a baptism with which to be baptized, and that involved suffering and death.
At several points in Church history people move from an offensive to a defensive, or even a siege, mentality. Rather than “striving,” “agonizing” to expand God’s kingdom and take territory from the enemy, we become complacently satisfied with holding to what we have. To prove my point I’ll direct you to Matthew 16:18. The Lord asked, “Who do men say that I am?” All the ideas of the people were wrong. He turns to Peter, “Who do you say that I am?” Peter speaks what we now call “the Great Confession.” “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” It’s because of this confession that Jesus says to Peter in verse 18, “And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”
Jesus plays with words: “Peter” means “stone” or “rock,” and “upon this rock” meaning Peter’s confession, “I will build my church.” Who? Jesus builds it. God have mercy on us that we never think we build it. The last phrase shows how God builds his church: “the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” When was the last time you saw gates attacking something? You don’t. Gates are defensive in nature. The Church storms (offense) hell (defense) and her gates can’t keep us out.
Verse 21 tells us that from that moment on Jesus shows the disciples what this offensive strategy costs. He must go to Jerusalem, suffer and die in order to be raised again on the third day. Our salvation rests on Christ’s resurrection. No resurrection, no salvation. But you can not have a resurrection unless you first have a death. That is the price. Not just anyone could do it. Salvation from eternity in hell demands the resurrection of the Son of God, only accomplished first by the death of the Son of God. In steps Peter. In verse 22, “Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee.” “No way, Lord. I have a better plan. I have an idea that is safer.” Jesus rebukes him sharply in verse 23: “Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.” Jesus knows that for the Kingdom to advance he had to “strive” and “agonize” (remember that the Greek word for “strive” is áãùíéæïìáé, where we get the word “agonize”) unto death, yet Peter calls for a full retreat, circle the wagons, get back to a safe village and hang on to what we’ve got! Jesus demands that to expand God’s kingdom you must shun the protective defense mentality and go on the offensive.