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We make our beginning in the Name of God the Father and in the Name of God the Son and in the Name of God the Holy Spirit and all those who know that Jesus is not to be ignored or treated lightly said … AMEN!
Today’s Gospel reading emphasizes the rejected prophet. Essentially we see the leadership of Israel telling Jesus to go take a powder. “We have everything under control, we know what we’re doing, thanks for sharing, but we will keep doing what we’re doing and stop in sometime when you can’t stay so long.” Adios, ave weidershein, dospedonia, aurevoir, see you later Charlie. It might appear that this is a warning from some well meaning Pharisee, but it’s more like “Herod wants to kill you and that’s just fine with us, see ya, don’t let the door hit ya on the way out.” Now of course the more cultured and refined of society would never say such things, they would just be snotty and presumptuous, clearly the Pharisees heart is full of hate. Sound familiar? Ya, we get that a lot in the world today. Not so much that anyone is going to kill you, no, you can get in trouble for that. Not so much that they want to see you physically dead, as much as just ruined, maybe … tee hee, some serious suffering, ostracism, and of course the trademark worldly, ridicule. Back in the day though ridicule was just as satisfying by stoning someone or wagging your finger at them, as they would do, while someone hung in shame from a cross.
Jesus had just taken a thinly veiled shot at those who presumed to be so religious, who were sure that they had been saved. Someone had just asked Him: “Lord will those who are saved be few?” Jesus’ reply was “strive to enter through the narrow gate”. While many will tell Jesus at the end time all about how much they did for Him, Jesus’ reply to those who put on a good show, but didn’t live up to it? “Depart from me all you workers of evil”. Does kind of make you stop and think. When we do that we need to drop our perspective, “I did this, I did that, aren’t I a swell guy” and start looking at it from Jesus’ perspective. “Is Jim doing My will, or is He just putting on a swell display for His own gratification? Is He serving me, or is Jim serving Jim?” The Pharisees knew full well what Jesus was saying when He answered the question. They were putting on a show, and in their heart they knew it, and their reaction to Jesus showed defensiveness on their part. “Really Jesus, you’re saying that we will be condemned?” Jesus did go on to say, to those “workers of evil, of iniquity” to depart: “In that place where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God but you yourselves cast out.” (Luke 13: 28) So Jesus is telling them what? … They are going to be going to Hell. They’ve been running their own show, it’s not about God, even though they claim to be all about God. It’s about them using God and their place as, presumably, God’s chosen leaders and them receiving all the glory and benefit. They’re not going to worry too much about turning the spotlight on God, that would take away from them.
The Pharisees are really acting as though they’re out on the playground, “oh yeah Jesus? We’re the cool kids and our boy Herod, well he’s going to fix your little red wagon.” But it wasn’t a fight after school, surrounded by all of Herod’s bully buddies. Herod could easily take Jesus and have Him executed and that’s just what the Pharisees wanted to see, so that they would have the satisfaction of wagging their fingers at Him and that is what they would do.
Jesus or the Pharisees might not be thinking about it, but Jesus has already been in Herod’s sights. Herod the Great tried to end the issue way back, when Jesus was a baby, when Herod sent soldiers into Bethlehem to slaughter the Holy Innocents. Jesus was supposed to be one of those innocents. But it wasn’t God’s will.
Jesus’ reply to the Pharisees was : “Go and tell that fox”! Herod you have no idea who you’re playing with. To the effect you better be careful and think about what I’ve already done. I’m not someone to toy with, try to bully, I’ve demonstrated who I am and you, Herod, had better be very careful of how you play this. This Herod, the one who tried to avoid executing John the Baptizer, was no where near as decisive as his father. No doubt Jesus would have put Herod the Great on notice the same way He was warning Herod Antipas, but he wanted Herod Antipas to be very aware: “Go tell that fox…” Jesus knew who Herod was, crafty, sneaky, a man without honor, who was more concerned with his ego, not to be trusted. Again not uncommon in post-modern man or woman. Go tell that self-obsessed ego maniac who he’s dealing with. “Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I finish my course.” You’re not in control buddy, I am. You don’t decide what happens, I do. I’ve done things you could never do, I will decide when it’s over and then what happens, I’m God the Son! You Herod will be taking that wide road to destruction where you will be weeping and gnashing your teeth, along with your self-important Pharisee buddies. So I’m going to pick up and leave from here, I’ve made my point and now it’s on to Jerusalem where God’s plan will be worked out according to His will, not the will of some two-bit despot.
At this point Jesus probably turned in the direction of Jerusalem, what should be the holy city, but in reality the one where God’s prophets are shamefully killed. What is partly in despair and partly dejection such high hopes for you, Jerusalem, and yet you’re just as grimy and sin-filled as the rest of the world and you camoflouge it with ornamentation and pretense. If Jerusalem is guilty of its arrogance and rejection of God the Son all the more the rest of the world. Jesus declares that Jerusalem is forsaken and will be with those who take the road to destruction. For those of us who know Jesus as our Savior, how can we show the rest of the world His glory and mercy and how in need all of us are of Him?
The peace of God that surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Amin and Shalom