Second Sunday in Lent
 At that very hour some Pharisees came and said to him, "Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you."  And he said to them, "Go and tell that fox, '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.'  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!  Behold, your house is forsaken. And I tell you, you will not see me until you say, 'Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!' " Luke 13:31-35 (ESV)
And he said to the, “go and tell that fox, ‘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.”
“On the third day I finish my course… I must go my way…. it cannot be that a prophet should perish away from Jerusalem.” These fragments of discourse leap off the page. They reveal the absolute consciousness of Jesus concerning what He is doing. I must go my way, it cannot be that prophet should perish away from Jerusalem.
The Pharisees are trying to scare him off by saying the Herod is after Him, that Herod wants to kill him Now it is doubtful there is any truth in this. Herod is happy to have the chance to talk to Jesus when Pilate sends Jesus to Herod’s palace. But it is plausible. This is the same Herod who killed John the Baptist. But the Pharisees just wanted Jesus gone. Perhaps if they start chasing him off now he won‘t be around to disturb the Passover festivities. They really weren’t concerned about his safety, it will be these same Pharisees that will be heading the plot to kill Jesus when he gets to Jerusalem.
What He speaks here He speaks not to Herod but to them. Death won’t scare him. Herod won’t scare Him, and neither will they. He knows what is going to happen. He says as much, it cannot be that a prophet perish away from Jerusalem. Jerusalem where he must go, must go, the divine imperative. He is going. He won’t be distracted from his task. Because on the third day he finishes his course. On the third day he rises from the dead. Oh he knew what he was saying there. He was very much alluding to the resurrection. His course isn’t finished on the cross, but on the third day in His resurrection. There rising from the grave in flesh and blood, the glorified body, He proves that there is life after death for those who live in Him, for those who believe in Him. Because He is not dead. He is very much alive. He is God. He is the Messiah. But for now He must go to Jerusalem to die.
It cannot be that a prophet perish away from Jerusalem. I’m here He says. I cast out demons, I perform cures today and tomorrow. Come and get me. But I go, I go to Jerusalem. I go my way. I must. I must go to Jerusalem so that you fools will accomplish my purposes, and kill me. Kill me the way Jerusalem has done to all the prophets that have been sent to her, sent to her to tell her to change her ways. Sent to her to tell her to return to her Lord. Now her Lord comes to her. Comes to her because she would not, indeed could not come to Him.
“He weeps, how often I would have gathered you as a hen gathers her chicks, and you would not.” (“But now I do.”) A hen protects her chicks, sacrifices herself for her chicks, will let a fire burn her, as her chicks find life under her wings, shielded from the flames. (At least according to some barn yard lore I have heard, admittedly though from scholastics commenting on this text, which makes the lore suspect.) Now Jesus goes. The Jews, the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Priests, the Pharisees, the Sadducees, they will not hide in Him. They will reject Him. Others will find refuge in Him. But not Jerusalem. They will resist his grace and spurn it. So it is with so many of us.
Reject God reject Christ. He would forgive, and we would say, “who are you to forgive“? I don’t need your forgiveness Lord. Who are you?
Is that you? So self-righteous in your own little hell that you would blame God for your pain? Blame God and spurn His forgiveness so you can somehow hurt Him by spending eternity in hell? Really? You know someone like this. You do. Think on it before the next time you talk.
But isn’t it true, we know them, maybe we are them. But this Jesus would not have. He would die. He would sacrifice Himself for us, and on the third day finish His course and rise from the dead, so that even now we can have life in Him. Life, life, true life. Life that can’t be found in holding grudges and judging others, life in Him, Life in the forgiveness He holds out to us. For in all our sin, against Him and Him alone have we sinned. And yet he forgives. Forgives with his sacrifice, and gives life in his resurrection.
Now the peace of God that surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen