Summary: Jesus laments over Jerusalem and the failure of people to pay heed to his message.
Sermon for 2nd Sunday In Lent Yr C 7/03/2004
Based on Lk 13:31-35
By Garth Wehrfritz-Hanson,
Pastor of Grace Lutheran Church, &
Chaplain of the Good Samaritan Society’s
South Ridge Village, Medicine Hat, Alberta
One of the authentic trademarks of a prophet is that they live very dangerously! They are willing to speak the truth of God’s word regardless of the consequences. More often than not, the people respond to God’s prophetic word by misunderstanding, abusing or rejecting the message and the messenger. In today’s gospel, we learn that Jesus certainly is prepared to live dangerously as he proclaims his prophetic message to the people of Jerusalem.
Some Pharisees—who were obviously concerned about his welfare—have just informed him that Herod wanted to kill Jesus. How does Jesus respond to this message? One would think that he’d take it seriously enough to protect himself and retreat to some safe place of refuge, but not Jesus! Oh no! This news of Herod threatening his life does not stifle or stop Jesus from doing what God had called and prepared him to do. He continued to minister to all kinds of people in all kinds of places—never losing sight of Jerusalem where he would meet his final destiny.
He knew that God had destined him to go up to Jerusalem and die on a cross. With his thoughts fixed on that holy city, he spoke his said, heartbreaking lament: “O 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!”
How tragic, ironical, and paradoxical! Jerusalem, city of peace, derived from the Hebrew word shalom, meaning peace; dwelling place of God’s people; yet, rejecting the very prophets God sent to them. According to 2 Kings 21:16, and confirmed by secular historian Josephus; King Manasseh had killed many a prophet in Jerusalem. Josephus says: “He spared not even the prophets, some of whom he slaughtered DAILY, so that Jerusalem ran with blood.” (Ant. 10.3, 1-38) Thus, to be a prophet in biblical times meant that you must be willing to LIVE DANGEROUSLY. No one knew this more than Jesus, as he was well acquainted with the history of his own people; and he knew that he too would meet a similar destiny, in accordance with his Father’s will.
It takes a brave person to call the reigning king a fox. Hugh Latimer, the English reformer was once preaching in Westminster Abbey Henry the king was one of the congregation. In the pulpit he said to himself, “Latimer! Latimer! Latimer! Be careful what you say. The king of England is here!” Then he went on, “Latimer! Latimer! Latimer! Be careful what you say. The King of kings is here.”
Jesus and all other true prophets of any time or place receive their orders and message from God. Jesus and all true prophets never adjust their work or message to please or escape from any earthly power. 1
Prophets do God’s work and speak the truth of God’s message regardless of the consequences. They live DANGEROUSLY. Jesus epitomises this as a prophet of God and the Messiah.