Sermon: The Destiny of Jesus and Jerusalem

The Destiny of Jesus and Jerusalem

Luke 13:31-35

As we look into the passage before us today, we see the sovereign plan of God unfolding.  We see that the Father is beginning to put all the pieces on the board and His plan is set in motion.  Herod is ready to kill Jesus.  Jesus is ready to travel to Jerusalem…toward the shadow of the cross.  But, the sad reality is that the Jews are not ready to follow.  In their rebellion they will not turn to Christ in faith and repentance.  Everything is in place for the salvation of man except man is not interested.

There is a Greek word that keeps popping up in this passage…Thelei.  This word is significant because it has a deep meaning.  Its definition is a great desire or something that must happen.  We’ll see this word appear three times in the text and each time it serves as a marker.

Please hear God’s Word…

Lk 13:31 At that very hour some Pharisees came and said to him, “Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you.”

Lk 13:32 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.

Lk 13:33 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.’

Lk 13:34 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!

Lk 13:35 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!'”

Father, may You place within our souls a strong desire for Christ…

1. Herod Desires to Kill Jesus

Lk 13:31 At that very hour some Pharisees came and said to him, “Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you.”

At first glance, it may seem as if these particular Pharisees were doing Jesus a favor in warning Him that Herod Antipas was out to kill Him.  It may seem so on the surface, however, as we proceed with the account it will become clear that these Pharisees were, in fact, in alliance with Herod.

The language in the original is so strong, it could be rendered, Herod must kill You.  Herod’s desire (thelei) was so strong, He was beginning to be like a rabid dog snarling and foaming at the mouth with vengeance against Christ.

These religious leaders were not being kind to Jesus.  The truth is, they wanted Him to be gone as much, if not more than Herod did.  Jesus was a bigger threat to their religious system than He was to Herod’s throne.  Wherever Jesus went, preaching the Kingdom of God and repentance, the need to a formal works system of religion grew less and less.  The more Jesus proved to the people His divinity and truthfulness, namely that He is the Son of God and He was sent from God, the less they desired to have Him around…Jesus was simply bad for business.

Their hopes were that word of Herod’s potential aggression toward Christ would drive Him away.  They wanted Him out of their territory and out of Herod’s as well.

We also see in this verse that the sovereign plan of God is unfolding.  People are being put in place and raised up to murder Jesus.  The desire to kill Jesus is placed in Herod’s heart by God Himself, much like God raising up Pharaoh to be an instrument for His use.

Rom 9:17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.”

God is in control of all people, good and evil.  All people do the Lord’s will whether they realize it or not.

2. Jesus Desires to Go to Jerusalem

Lk 13:32 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.

Lk 13:33 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.’

While their motivation for warning Jesus is questionable, what I want us to see in these verses specifically is that Jesus is not afraid.  Luke continues to remind his readers that central to Jesus’ mission is the Father’s divine purpose.  So, while Jesus has turned His attention to travel to Jerusalem, it’s not only His geographical destination but it is where His mission will be finished.  Jesus is not afraid of Herod.  Herod is nothing more than a pawn in God’s hands.  Herod is but a divine tool to be picked up or laid down depending on God’s purposes.

Jesus responds to these Pharisees and shows their relationship to Herod.  He says, Go and tell that fox,.  By saying this, it’s like Jesus says, You go back where you came from and tell Herod that I am going to complete my mission in spite of him.   

‘Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I finish my course.

Jesus was fearless in the face of this very probable threat because He was continuing to entrust Himself to the Father.  Jesus realized that He needed to continue on His mission and He could do so because the Father also had a mission…to keep Jesus alive until it was time for the cross.

We see a clear common desire with a contrast of purpose.  The common result is this: The Pharisees desire Jesus to leave their region.  Jesus also desires to leave their region…common desire.  However, Jesus’ desire to leave is not based on any threat from them or from Herod.  The contrast of purpose is that Jesus’ desire to leave is based on God’s will not Herod’s threats.

Lk 13:33 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.’

So, whose agenda is being served by Jesus’ travelling out of their region?  God’s agenda is being served.

Jerusalem’s reputation was not the Holy City but it had the reputation of killing the prophets of God.  It was a commonly know character trait of the city.  Jesus acknowledges His own future suffering and death as He connects His final journey to Jerusalem.  Jerusalem’s destiny and our Lord’s destiny are connected.  Even though Jesus continues to preach and teach all the way to Jerusalem, her destiny is judgment because they will go so far as to pass an unfounded guilty verdict upon the King of the universe.  When they judge Jesus, God judges them.  And all this is in the sovereign plan of God.

3. Jesus Desires to Receive Sinners

Lk 13:34 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,…

Here, we have the second use of this verb Thelei…Jesus desires to receive sinners.  Here in context, He desires to receive His own people…the Jews.  Jesus’ outpouring of sadness and grief toward the capitol city of Israel shows that He understands that they will not come to Him in repentance and faith.  Even though He has healed their sick and taught them the Word of God, they will still kill Him in Jerusalem.  His voicing the lament of Jerusalem, Jerusalem is a sign of His love for them and is sadness of their stiff-necked rebellion.

Jesus uses very good imagery here to show His caring love for them…

How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings,…

Jesus, here is pictured as the mother hen and the people of Jerusalem as the baby chicks.

When danger occurs either from a chicken hawk or from bad weather, the mother hen gives a certain cluck and the babies come running.  She opens her wings and wraps them around the little ones for protection and then being protected walks them to a place of shelter.

Jesus tells them that His desire was to do this for His own people.

Herod desired to kill Jesus…Jesus desired for His people to come…

4. Sinners Do Not Desire Jesus

Lk 13:34 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!

Lk 13:35 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!'”

Here we see the third use of our Greek word Thelei… you would not! 

I want to pause for a moment here because there is something unnatural at work in the hearts of lost sinners.  It is normal for a baby chick to run to its mother for protection.  So, to continue with Jesus’ story, we see baby chicks who when danger threatens would rather take their chances with the chicken hawk or the fox or the lightning storm that to run to their mother.  Chickens do not rebel against their instincts.  They just do what they were created to do.

However, with people it’s different.  Fallen man is so rebellious at heart that he will not run to Christ for protection but instead suffer the eternal consequences of refusing to trust in Christ to save us from the wrath to come.  Sinners desire sin more than they desire Jesus.

One thing that’s different from a baby chick and people is that the day old chick recognizes his mother’s cluck for danger and people, when they hear the Gospel don’t think the danger is real.  A day old chick is smarter than a forty year old person ion this sense.  A chick knows it had better high tail it to safety and people think the danger isn’t real or that it isn’t an immediate threat.

As a consequence of its rejection of Jesus, Jerusalem will be judged… Behold, your house is forsaken.

This is language God has spoken before to the Israelites…

Jer 22:5 But if you will not obey these words, I swear by myself, declares the LORD, that this house shall become a desolation.

Their rejection of the Messiah, Jesus Christ will be the last straw.  God will withdraw His presence and leave them to their own devices…history tells the rest of the story.  The Jew’s history is a tragic story.  Jerusalem would be the beginning.  They meet with a devastating end.  Their beloved temple would be destroyed…the place where their religion had turned into a degenerate religion.  The temple was formerly called the house of God, but no longer.  God’s would leave and let them to themselves.

As we wrap up this mornings message it’s important for us to see that there was nothing more powerful than Jesus’ desire to face the cross.  This is a stronger desire than Herod’s desire to kill Him.  And yet, in God’s providence both would work to serve His purposes.  Jesus would travel to the cross to give His life as a ransom for many and those in leadership would desire the execution of Christ.  Notice also, that Jesus’ desire to receive sinners is as strong as Herod’s desire to kill Jesus.

Now, with all these opposing forces working toward the same goal, the cross was coming into view.  Everything is being put into place for the salvation of sinners.

The only thing that keeps a sinner from being saved is that they have thelei for other things.  They don’t desire Christ.

There is a universal call that goes out into the entire world…

With the universal call comes a paradoxical tension.  Jesus calls all people to Himself in a general call, come to Me.  Yet, they can only come if God grants them faith to believe.

Mt 11:28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.    

Jn 5:40 yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.

Jn 6:37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. 

Jn 6:44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.      

Will you come to Christ?

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