31 The same day there came certain of the Pharisees, saying unto him, Get thee out, and depart hence: for Herod will kill thee.
32 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. 33 Nevertheless I must walk to day, and to morrow, and the day following: for it cannot be that a prophet perish out of Jerusalem.
34 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!
35 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. (Luke 13:31–35)
Mothers will do almost anything to protect their children, won’t they?
One mom found herself in a trapped in burning third story apartment with her 18 month old son. What did she do? She grabbed the baby tightly in her arms and jumped out the window. She has had to have back surgery, but the son only had a scratch on him.
A Kentucky mother shielded her children from flying debris during a tornado. She lost parts of both her legs, but the children are safe.
A cougar attacked a little girl, but it didn’t count on the girl’s mother who dived in-between it and the girl. The mom stood up with the cougar on her back and threw it off. The little girl’s response? “Why didn’t the kitty play nice?” (https://www.theloop.ca/12-moms-who-defied-death-to-save-their-children/)
Stories like these could be multiplied by the thousands. What drives a mom to protect her children—even to risk her life for them? Love and compassion.
What drove Jesus to die for us? We find out in this passage that it’s a mother’s compassion. Just as a mother’s compassion drives her to be committed to her mission—her children—so Jesus’s compassion drove him to be committed to his mission—the cross.
THE COMMITMENT TO DO HIS MISSION (13:31-33)
Earlier in this chapter, we saw that Jesus was traveling through cities and villages, making his way to Jerusalem (verse 22). Luke emphasizes this point in his gospel. Jesus always intended to end up in Jerusalem at the end of his ministry (cf. Luke 9:51).
On one particular day, he encountered a man who asked him “Lord, are there few that be saved?” (Verse 23). We looked at that in the last lesson. Now…
Luke 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.
The question that comes to mind is: are these Pharisees honestly trying to help Jesus or is this a trap of some sort?
It is possible that these are friendly Pharisees—there were a few. Nicodemus comes to mind, and also Joseph of Arimathaea. It’s possible, but I think unlikely, that these Pharisees had a genuine concern for Jesus’s safety.
Rather, I think they were trying to get Jesus to flee for his life. He would have had to basically leave Judah and Galilee and go to some far place like Egypt in order to be safe from Herod. Thus, they would be rid of Jesus. Easy-Peasy.
The clue in the text that leads me to this conclusion is that in verse 32, Jesus tells them to, “Go ye, and tell that fox.” He seems to be implying that they are in league with Herod, or at least of the same moral character as Herod.
Herod’s threat would have some credibility to it. There were plenty of reasons why Herod might want Jesus dead. He may have been afraid of Jesus’s power or he may have been afraid of the large crowds following Jesus and the potential for rioting.
Like he did at the beginning of Jesus’s ministry, Satan was again tempting Jesus to abandon the mission of the cross.
How would Jesus respond to this temptation?
Luke 13:32a And he said unto them, Go ye, and tell that fox,
What Jesus calls Herod was quite derogatory. Foxes are sneaky and cunning—we say that someone who is crafty is “like a fox.”
But really a fox is just a pest. They raid a chicken coop, to be sure, but they run at the sound of a dog approaching. They really aren’t all that dangerous, not like lions and tigers and bears, oh my.
By calling Herod a fox, Jesus made him out to be a weak and annoying fox, not a wise, powerful lion of a ruler.
Herod would not be able to affect the divine timetable of the cross. Jesus would go to Jerusalem, and he would die on the cross, but he would do it precisely when and how he planned.
Jesus tells these Pharisees to go and say to Herod:
Luke 13:32b Behold, I cast out devils, and I do cures to day and to morrow, and the third day I shall be perfected. Luke 13:33a Nevertheless I must walk to day, and to morrow, and the day following:
We might be tempted to see the last phrases here as referring to Jesus’s resurrection, but I don’t think it is.
Instead, it’s best to see that Jesus was using a common figure of speech—today, tomorrow, and the third day—that meant the same as when we say, “in the near future.”
His time of ministry—casting out demons and healing—was soon to wrap up. Not in three literal days—it would be many more days before he even got to Jerusalem, much less to the cross and the resurrection (which took place a week after his arrival)—but in the near future.
The word “perfected” (teleioō) means to “bring to an end” or to finish. Jesus used the same root word on the cross when he said, “It is finished” (John 19:30).
What Jesus was referring to most immediately was not his resurrection, but his death on the cross for our sins. We see that confirmed in the last part of verse 33:
Luke 13:33b for it cannot be that a prophet perish out of Jerusalem.
This refers to his death on the cross. It must take place in Jerusalem. Jerusalem is God’s city, but sadly, it’s the place where many of the prophets of God died. John the Baptist being the most recent.
Jesus was committed to finishing his mission. Let’s stop here a moment and ponder the significance of the finished work of Christ.
There is nothing more important in our Christian lives to give us assurance in our salvation than pondering the finished work of Christ. Our guilt is completely removed by Christ. There isn’t a bit left for us to do.
Sometimes we doubt our salvation because we see a lack of growth, or we don’t have strong feelings for Christ.
Those things are indeed important. A Christian must grow. We are to have feelings for Christ.
But they aren’t the core thing for our assurance. They are subjective. They vary in intensity from person to person and even from day to day in the same person.
Growth is something we have to look at over the long haul, not day-to-day. Feelings will change depending on how tired you are, physical problems you might have, and so on.
We should want to have feelings of love for Christ, but we need to remember that feelings are very fickle.
But the finished work of Christ—it’s objective; it’s permanent. Nothing but nothing can change it! It’s the bedrock of our assurance! Growth and feelings are indicators of salvation that can add to our assurance, but Christ’s finished work is the bedrock.
When we run the Christian race, what should we be looking at for motivation and assurance? Growth and feelings, or the finished work of Christ? What does the Bible say?
…and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, 2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1–2)
Look to the finished work of Christ first and foremost for your assurance. You’ll have days when your feelings for Christ are strong and others where you feel distant. You’ll have seasons of growth and seasons of drought.
But through it all, the finished work of Christ on the cross will remain the same. Look to it. Look and live!
Let’s look at one more thing in verse 33–
Luke 13:33a Nevertheless I must walk to day, and to morrow, and the day following:
Zero in on that one little word, “must.” When Jesus said that word, he was saying that he was under a “holy obligation” to finish the work. It was completely necessary for him to do, not just because there would be no other way for our sins to be forgiven, but also because of his compassionate character. That’s what we see in the next verses.
THE COMPASSIONATE MOTIVATION FOR HIS MISSION (13:34)
Luke 13:34a O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee;
Again, Jesus mentions the fact that Jerusalem is the place where God’s prophets go to die. Don’t miss the irony.
Jerusalem was the center for worshipping God, yet it was also where the prophets ended up getting killed. Jesus knew he had to go to Jerusalem to die.
When Jesus says, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem,” it’s a phrase that is packed with empathy and compassion. You find Jesus using this repetition of words to express his compassion and empathy often.
41 And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: (Luke 10:41)
31 And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: (Luke 22:31)
4 And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? (Acts 9:4)
Jesus’s compassion comes through clear in the rest of this verse:
Luke 13:34b how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not!
Jesus pictures himself as a mother hen who gathers her chicks under her wings.
Mother hens are very protective of their chicks. When there is danger, you’ll see the baby chicks run to mama and duck underneath her feathers. They will poke their heads out of the feathers to see if it’s safe.
I saw a picture of a mother hen standing, and it looked like she had a dozen legs because so many chicks were hidden under her wings.
In the Bible, God sometimes depicts himself as some sort of bird who wants to protect his flock:
4 He shall cover thee with his feathers, And under his wings shalt thou trust: His truth shall be thy shield and buckler. (Psalm 91:4)
Jesus displayed this motherly compassion throughout his ministry on earth. For instance,
40 And there came a leper to him, beseeching him, and kneeling down to him, and saying unto him, If thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. 41 And Jesus, moved with compassion, put forth his hand, and touched him, and saith unto him, I will; be thou clean. (Mark 1:40–41)
Despite Jesus’s great compassion for his people, he says that they would not come under his wings. Despite their reluctance, he still died for them and us. God’s compassionate love is like that:
8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)
In the final verse, Jesus looks forward to…
THE COMPLETION OF HIS MISSION (13:35)
Jesus says to the Jewish people…
Luke 13:35a Behold, your house is left unto you desolate:
There is some debate about whether word, “house,” refers to the Jewish people, Jerusalem the city, or the Temple.
But clearly Jesus predicting what would happen in forty years time when the Romans destroyed the Temple, razed Jerusalem, and scattered the Jewish people for the next two thousand years.
This would happen because they refused Jesus. They rejected his hen-like desire to gather them under his wings.
But Jesus will not be done with his people:
Luke 13:35b 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.
Israel would be set aside in God’s plan. In her place, God now deals with the church (comprised of Gentiles and a remnant of believing Jews). That’s the age that we are now in…the church age. This age will end when the church is raptured and then God will start dealing with Israel as a nation again.
The saying, “Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord” was shouted by the people at Jesus’s triumphal entry in Matthew 21.
However, it looks forward to another triumphal entry—one that would not just be a flash in the pan. It’s when the Lord returns and this time, Israel will accept their Messiah.
The prophet Zechariah looked forward to Israel’s return to the Lord, taking place during the Great Tribulation:
9 And it shall come to pass in that day, That I will seek to destroy all the nations That come against Jerusalem. 10 And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, The spirit of grace and of supplications: And they shall look upon me whom they have pierced…(Zechariah 12:9–10)
…They shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: And they shall say, The Lord is my God. (Zechariah 13:9)
Jesus’s mission to rescue Israel will be complete. The mother hen’s compassion will be displayed. The wayward chicks will come under his wings to join the many others that have found salvation in Jesus Christ.
What about you? Jesus’s compassionate longing for you to be under his wings extends to even you. Have you responded to his call? Have you by faith come to find safety under his wings?
Levi Durfey—LDM-42-Luke 13.31-35-LKA#074-20190929FBCAM-SERMON