“Jesus Is Determined–and Compassionate” (Luke 13:31-35)

Second Sunday in Lent
March 13, 2022

“Jesus Is Determined–and Compassionate” (Luke 13:31-35)

Two things that we see about Jesus in our text today: 1) He is determined, and 2) He is compassionate. And that combination is the very best news for you. Let’s take a look now, under the theme, “Jesus Is Determined–and Compassionate.”

First of all, Jesus is determined. He’s determined to finish what he started. Nothing or no one can scare him off, not the Pharisees, not Herod the tetrarch of Galilee. Our text begins: “At that very hour some Pharisees came and said to [Jesus], ‘Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you.’” Now what’s that all about?

OK, so Jesus has been busy for some time now with his ministry in Galilee: preaching. teaching, healing the sick, casting out demons, gathering disciples. Jesus has been attracting big crowds and gaining a lot of attention. But all the while, he’s also been making some enemies. That includes the Pharisees. Jesus has exposed the Pharisees as hypocrites. They wanted to look good in front of men, but their hearts were far from God. Jesus has called them out on their sins, and they don’t like it. Jesus was exposing their pride and hypocrisy. So those Pharisees had reason to want Jesus out of their hair.

The other party mentioned here is Herod. There are a number of Herods in the New Testament. This one is Herod Antipas, the tetrarch of Galilee–the same Herod who had had John the Baptist put to death. Now the Pharisees tell Jesus, “Herod wants to kill you.” This raises some questions: Did Herod really want to kill Jesus, or were the Pharisees just trying to scare Jesus out of their territory? Or maybe Herod wanted to get Jesus out of Galilee, and that’s why he fed this rumor to the Pharisees. We don’t know. Our text doesn’t tell us.

In any case, one thing is clear: Jesus is not going to be intimidated or thrown off course. You can hear the determination in his voice when he says: “Go and tell that fox,” referring to Herod, “‘Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I finish my course. Nevertheless, I must go on my way today and tomorrow and the day following, for it cannot be that a prophet should perish away from Jerusalem.’”

Jesus is not going to run away or be scared into changing his timetable just because of a threat. He’s got a little more work to do here in Galilee, and then it will be on to Jerusalem. Jesus is in charge of his own schedule. “Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I finish my course.”

And his course will take him to Jerusalem: “Nevertheless, I must go on my way today and tomorrow and the day following, for it cannot be that a prophet should perish away from Jerusalem.” Wow, that sounds like a strange reason to go someplace. In order to perish? But that’s what his mission is: a journey to Jerusalem, to be rejected and killed. Jesus knows what he’s getting into, and still he goes. That’s how determined he is.

And we’ve seen this before. Think of when Jesus was tempted by the devil. One of the temptations was for Jesus to throw himself off the pinnacle of the temple, land unhurt, and win the acclaim of the crowds. But that’s not how Jesus will accomplish his goal. Nor when the mockers at the cross say, “Come down from the cross and we will believe in you.” Jesus will resist that temptation, too. That’s not how he will reach his goal.

Jesus predicted how he will reach it: “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.” This will happen in Jerusalem. This is how the mission will play out.

Or again, at Jesus’ transfiguration, Moses and Elijah were talking with Jesus about “his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem.” Jerusalem–that’s where Jesus will finish his course. And he is determined to go there. Jesus sets his face to go to Jerusalem, knowing that rejection and suffering and death await him there. He is determined. He’s locked in. There’s no stopping him. There’s no diverting him from finishing his course. Jesus has a clear sense of purpose. That’s what we’re seeing today in our text. Jesus is a man on a mission.

But why? Why is Jesus so determined, when he knows that suffering awaits him in Jerusalem? Why? Because he came to do the will of his Father, and this is the Father’s plan for the salvation of the world. And Jesus is doing this for you. You have sins that need to be atoned for, and you can’t do that yourself. You have death hanging over your head, and you don’t have power to change that.

But Jesus can, and he does. He has a goal to reach. He has a mission to fulfill. His mission is to save sinful mankind. His mission is to save you. The Son of God will shed his holy blood on the cross, for you, and this is the only thing that can atone for your sins. This is what will lift the shroud of death from off of you, as evidenced by Christ’s resurrection. This is the course that Jesus will finish in Jerusalem. He’s got his face set for there. And there’s no stopping him until he reaches his goal.

We see how determined Jesus is. And we see how compassionate he is. What a kind, loving Savior, that he would do this for you! That he would willingly undergo suffering and death for you! “Nevertheless,” he says, “I must go on my way.” And that way is the way of the cross. Determination and compassion meet perfectly in Christ.

Hear the compassion in Jesus’ voice, as his heart aches for the city that will reject him and kill him: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not!” Of all cities, Jerusalem should have been the one to welcome the Messiah. Jerusalem had every advantage. How many times God had sent prophets to her. But how many times Jerusalem rejected those prophets. And now God is sending his own Son, but they will reject him also.

And with that ultimate rejection, God’s ultimate judgment would fall on Jerusalem. Forty years later, after rejecting their Messiah and putting him to death, Jerusalem would fall at the hands of the Romans in A.D. 70. The temple would be destroyed, leveled, never to be rebuilt, down to this very day. “Behold, your house is forsaken.”

But judgment is not God’s primary will. His primary or proper will is to save. As Jesus says, “How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings.” Jesus wanted to gather the people of Jerusalem to himself, to take them under the shelter of his wings. This is grace and compassion! But God’s grace is not irresistible. Jerusalem said no. “And you would not!” You were not willing, Jerusalem!

People today are still saying no to God and his grace and forgiveness and salvation. They say: “No thank you, Jesus, I don’t think I need a Savior. I don’t think I’m that bad of a person. I’ll be fine on my own.” What foolishness, what stupidity, what utter blindness! But that’s what Jerusalem was saying, and it is still what people are saying today when they reject Jesus, when they think they don’t need him.

So many people in our community, maybe even in your own family–so many in our nation and world are self-secure. They become hardened in their unbelief. They think they don’t need Jesus and what he freely gives. Therefore they don’t think they need Christ’s church, where the good news of salvation in Christ is proclaimed. But know this: All those who think they don’t need Jesus–they’re wrong, dead wrong. There’s no hope for them, apart from Christ. He is the one and only Savior that God has for this world, for all men, in all places. There is no other.

So how is it with you? Will you be gathered in? Or will you try to go it on your own? Do you think you have what it takes to atone for your sins and overcome death? Good luck with that. Instead, dear friends, look to Jesus. “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith.” He is determined to save you. He longs to gather you under his wings. Determination and compassion meet perfectly in Christ.

Published in: on March 11, 2022 at 11:01 pm  Leave a Comment  
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