Summary: Jesus wants to protect us, yet most people do not know his love, or the lengths he will go to protect us. This sermon will help to uncover love, even though the reading itself appears to be of little importance.
This sermon was delivered to St Oswald’s in Maybole, Ayrshire, Scotland on the 21st February 2016; St Oswalds is a Scottish Episcopal Church in the Dioceses of Glasgow and Dumfries.
The readings for today are:
“Please be seated, and join me in a short prayer.” Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of our hearts, be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer. Amen. (Psalms. 19:14).
Some Pharisees came and said to Jesus, "Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you." 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. 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.' 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! 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.'"
Today, we have a very strange reading. … It does not appear to be as powerful or as interesting as what we have been used to, and my first reaction was, how to I make a sermon of this? … But later I thought, as this reading is in the Lectionary, why is it important or even relevant?
On reading it again, and again, one thing became clear, and that is the love shown by Jesus was rejected by his own people, the Jews, … and knowing this, he is still continued with his mission. … To understand why, we first need to see the context in which this reading was set, and it is quite disturbing to find that it is set while Jesus was on his last legs to Jerusalem, ... to be crucified, … and notice, the closer he gets to Jerusalem, the more and more stronger his opposition becomes. … Jesus is going to Jerusalem, to die on a cross, (for the sins of the world), and his own people, the Jews, or should I say, those Jews in authority, are trying to kill him, because He is openly exposing their hypocrisy.
The ordinary, common people on the other hand love him, and they run to hear him with joy, and so in today’s reading, we can almost feel the depth of love and compassion Jesus has for these people … love he has for us today, the kind of love that we need to understand.
1. Jesus is determined to reach that Cross.
Let us now look at that love, ... verse 31 starts off by saying, “Some Pharisees came and said to Jesus, "Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you." … Now do you think you think for one second the Pharisees were concerned for the life of Jesus? “Oh Jesus, you better run because Herod wants to kill you”. Did they honestly expect Jesus not to see through them?
Yes Herod Antipas was the powerful regent who had the authority to execute anyone he desired; … it was he who had John the Baptist beheaded at the request of his stepdaughter Salome, … however we also know that Herod suffered bad nightmares for doing that, … and that would explain why he thought that Jesus was John the Baptist back from the dead to haunt him; … so this threat from Herod was very real indeed.
But Jesus replied to that threat was good, “You tell that fox ...”, … Jesus made light of that threat with Hebrew humour or sarcasm, … comparing Herod as a cunning sneaky animal, but an animal of no real threat. … A tiger, or a poisonous snake, or a bear is a threat, but a fox, a fox is a pest, … to the game keepers at Culzean, foxes are simply vermin.
So Jesus, by down playing the threat from Herod, is showing courage, … he is saying that he is going to keep going until his mission is complete, … Herod or not. … Jesus had a job to do and verse 31 continues, “Listen, (he says), I am casting out demons and performing cures today and tomorrow, and on the third day I finish my work”.
Jesus had a goal to accomplish, his goal was to redeem sinful mankind from themselves, and he knew that he would be sacrificial lamb necessary to do that. … Jesus was determined to reach that cross in a timely manner, and nothing would deter himf.