Luke 13:31-35 (NIV) At that time some Pharisees came to Jesus and said to him, “Leave this place and go somewhere else. Herod wants to kill you.”
He replied, “Go tell that fox, ‘I will drive out demons and heal people today and tomorrow, and on the third day I will reach my goal.’ In any case, I must keep going today and tomorrow and the next day–for surely no prophet can die outside Jerusalem!
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! Look, your house is left to you desolate. I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.'”
Jesus was almost to Jerusalem, His final destination. His face was set steadfastly toward that final goal, including toward the suffering and death that He knew was waiting for Him there.
Herod was waiting for Him too, but not to kill Him, as this Pharisee indicated. Herod had been trying to see Jesus for several months (Luke 9:9, 23:8), hoping to witness a miracle. The Pharisee was being deceptive, because He had been watching the excitement grow among those who were following Jesus as they got closer to Jerusalem. They believed that Jesus was going there to set Himself up as king, and the Pharisees wanted nothing to do with that.
But Jesus responded to the urging of the Pharisee on its face. Suppose Herod really was trying to find Jesus to kill Him. It did not change Jesus’ plan one iota. Jesus had two more days on the road, days that would be filled with driving out demons and healing people, in precise obedience to His Father. On the third day, Sunday, He would enter Jerusalem in triumph, and set events in motion that would lead to His arrest and crucifixion. Nothing, no plans of men or kings, could move Him away from that course now that God’s plan had entered its final stages.
In any case, Jesus knew that no assassination attempt on Him could succeed outside of Jerusalem where He was destined to die. Jerusalem, the city where God had chosen to manifest His presence 1000 years before, had a terrible reputation. Many, many prophets had been killed there by wicked and rebellious kings. And now the leaders there were going to kill the very Son of God who was coming to save them, but whom they were rejecting, just as they had rejected Him over the previous three years.
Surprising to some is the fact that this rebellion broke God’s heart, and Jesus accurately expressed that heartbrokenness in His lament over the city. God loved His people. They were the ones that He had chosen to be the channel through which salvation would come to the people of the earth. But they were still stiff-necked and rebellious. And that rebellion would, in the end, lead to their destruction.
Father, Jesus was single-minded and totally focused on Your agenda. How I wish that all of us, Your Church, were the same today. But we tend to let our hearts be pulled in all different directions. Forgive us, Lord, and help us to catch Your vision for the kingdom, and to translate that vision into concrete action every day. Amen.