PassageAs Jesus is finishing talking about “the narrow door” (in the last passage), some Pharisees come to warn him to get away because Herod is looking to kill him. This doesn’t put Jesus off, though; he tells them that they can go tell that “fox” (an insult, implying that Herod is a cunning liar) that he is still going to go about healing and casting out demons for the next couple of days, and then he’ll finish his course. “Nevertheless,” he says, he must go his way for the next few days, because he can’t perish away from Jerusalem (hinting that that’s where he’s going). Jesus isn’t talking about literal “days” here, he just means that he’s still got work to do, and he’s going to keep doing that work for as long as it takes, regardless of Herod’s plans.
He then laments over the city of 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 were not willing! 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!’”
ThoughtsIt’s interesting that it is a group of Pharisees who come to warn Jesus about Herod’s threat, rather than his followers. Either there are Pharisees who really are trying to do the right thing—something I often make allowances for on this blog, even though, on the whole, the Pharisees’ teaching was clearly off—or they are just trying to trick him into going away.
The ESV Study Bible makes an interesting point about Jesus’ lament over Jerusalem. First of all, he didn’t literally mean that no prophet has ever died outside of Jerusalem—some definitely did. But, the Study Bible points out, “Jerusalem, the center of Jewish religion and worship, was more dangerous to a true prophet of God than any threats from Herod in Galilee.”
We should read Jesus’ lament as being over more than just the city of Jerusalem, he’s lamenting the entire nation of Israel. When he says that he would have gathered them under his wings, but they were not willing, he’s talking about the people of Israel. The lesson for modern-day Christians is not to feel superior to the Old Testament nation of Israel; the lesson for us is that nobody will ever come to Jesus voluntarily, no matter how much they know about God and about His Son; it takes an act of Grace. There are plenty of people in North America, and probably elsewhere too, who have grown up “in the Church,” who know more about God and about Christ than anyone did in Jesus’ day, but who still don’t believe.