2 Lent C Luke 13:31-35 “Divine Desire”
I bring you grace and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus. Amen.
God’s Word for our glad hearing and our glad learning is the Gospel Lesson for this Second Sunday in Lent, as was already read from Luke, chapter 13.
Let us all pray, “Love caused Your incarnation; Love brought you down to me. Your thirst for my salvation Procured my liberty. Oh, love beyond all telling, That led you to embrace In love, all love excelling, Our lost and fallen race. (O Lord, How shall I Meet You? Lutheran Service Book 334)
Jesus knew what it meant when his enemies started acting like friends –for He Himself knew what was in man (John 2:25), and with friends like these Pharisees, who needs enemies?
Whether they were trying to be helpful and warn Jesus, or not. Or, whether they were bringing a message on behalf of Herod, or not. Or, whether they simply wanted to scare Jesus away from their jurisdiction, or not. We really don’t know. In the end, Jesus wasn’t going to change for anyone; not even the fox Herod. But He was intent on going up to Jerusalem, and to suffer and to die.
We are now two weeks into Lent. Last Sunday we heard of Jesus severe temptations by the devil at the beginning of His ministry. He did not give in to any of them. He feared and loved and trusted in God above all others. He stayed the course. He was the chosen One, the Messiah. The Son of god who was come into the world for the redemption of all people.
Now today we see another angel on things –that is what Jesus had to go through to save us. And for many people, including many Christians, there comes now a warning. Christ would include you in His Kingdom and share with you the benefits of His death and resurrection, but you will not have anything to do with Him.
And as I said, this message is even more for those inside the church, than outside.
But the worst was to happen among His own people. Jesus predicts His own death. Now we’re hearing about what’s to come later this Lent. Now we’re beginning to see that Jesus knew what His fate was. Now we begin to realize what Jesus went willing on our behalves.
For He will go to Jerusalem. That was the fate of the prophets before Him, and it was also His as a prophet. Indeed, more than a prophet! As the Messiah He would go there to Jerusalem to suffer and die: where they kill the prophets and stone those who are sent to it.
And even if he was issuing threats against Jesus, Herod wouldn’t stop Him. Herod would have no influence as to whether Jesus lived or die. He may have killed John, but that was only because God had allowed it. But he wouldn’t touch Jesus, because the Father would not allow that Herod should touch Him.
It would be Gentiles to whom He would be delivered. And they would mock Him and shamefully treat Him and spit upon Him. And after flogging him, kill him, and on the third day he would rise. Luke 18:32–33
Jesus was on a mission from God and that mission was the salvation of the world. There would be no greater mission in all of human history.
From eternity, God saw the wretched state of sinful mankind. God knew that our first parents would disobey and fall into sin, bringing the whole human race under the curse of God’s wrath and punishment.
He knew that each of us would need saving if we are to spend eternity with Him. The very fact that we have heard about the goodness of Jesus and are here in this place this morning shows us God’s grace towards each of us individually. That’s something wonderful that we shouldn’t take lightly or not consider thoughtfully. God has come to each of us by the Gospel.
Do you take His grace lightly and respond to it as Jerusalem did her prophets? Take the Third Commandment. It is also about the prophetic Word of God. It says to remember the Sabbath day.
It more than occasionally supporting the church, or coming into the church once a year.
It means that God and His matter are foremost in our lives. That we regard those sent to us from God. Who speak God’s word to us. It means to support the kingdom of God and His Word regularly.
We should fear and love God that we do not despise preaching and God’s Word, but hold it sacred, gladly hear and learn it. Is that a one once a year deal? Or, when I feel like it? Or, when it only when I feel it to be agreeable?
The Pharisees, who came to Jesus thought of themselves as pretty religious. They were quick to let others see and hear all the remarkable things they did when they made their sacrifices, when they prayed, and when they helped the poor.
But they were also just as quick to reject the Word of God and Jesus who was sent to them because He pointed out that they needed more than these things –that they needed Him, and the continued indwelling of God’s Holy Spirit in order to believe in Him and be saved. Jesus said to them, “I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:20)
What did that mean to those people? It meant that even the most religious people of Jesus day were unable to make it into heaven without Him. And those Pharisees hated Jesus for saying it.
Yet don’t we often go about confidently, relying pretty much on our own good works? Would any of us want to have our offerings and prayer time and hours we spend in church related activity un-credited from our over-all spiritual report card. Doesn’t each of us some-what think that being a pretty good person in our own eyes and the fact that there are a lot worse people out there than we are count for something? Perhaps count a lot? Maybe, since there is not much else to our spiritual life are we even depending just on this one thing: that God thinks pretty highly of us?
Well, Jesus doesn’t think so, and He uses the picture of a mother hen and her brood of chicks to tell us how it is. Either we are found safe and secure nestled under the wings of God or we are to suffer the fate of chicks that wander off to be killed by a fox.
You see, there is irony in the image Jesus uses here of a hen and chicks and fox. Certainly a hen is not stronger or more clever than a fox. But the chicks are safer under her wings than anywhere else. Surrounded by God shielded by Him we can be no safer. Outside His church we are at danger at all times.
And Jesus is making use of the same Psalm from the Temptation last week which the devil misapplied concerning tempting God and the angel’s protection.
He will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.Psalm 91:11-12
Only this time verse 4,
He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler. Psalm 91:4
Yet there is one hindrance when it comes to the salvation of a man’s soul. That is the man himself. “I stand at the door and knock,” says Jesus in Revelation chapter 3.
And at that invitation all excuses are useless. You can’t even blame the preacher. Before our Gospel today Jesus had warned about the narrowness of the door to Salvation.
Someone said to him, “Lord, will those who are saved be few?” And he said to them, ”Strive to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able. When once the master of the house has risen and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, open to us,’ then he will answer you, ‘I do not know where you come from.’ Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets.’
But he will say, ‘I tell you, I do not know where you come from. Depart from me, all you workers of evil!’ In that place 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.
And people will come from east and west, and from north and south, and recline at table in the kingdom of God.
And behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.” (Luke 13:23-30)
We could do no better than rethink these matters, especially during this season of Lent, with Holy Week and Easter approaching. Do not make it that Christ died in vain for you.
That would be a terrible thing. Listen to His pleas that you would find shelter under His wings.; that He wants to protect you and keep you safe.
Don’t think this will happen automatically, just because you’re in the shadow of this building, or a lifelong member of this church. And don’t think that His grace isn’t for you because you are a new comer and not one of this church’s chicks. Jesus is willing to bring all under His outstretched arms. He wants all people to be saved.
There are no exclusions when it comes to the repentant sinner wanting forgiveness. It is only the arrogant, and the proud and those who trust in themselves, like the Pharisees, who don’t make it.
And if hearing that angers you, then you better rethink these things and hear Jesus’ warning.
But perhaps we best be reminded what our Christian Questions and their Answers say –what we all learned from the Catechism, about making use of the Lord’s Supper.
But what should you do if you are not aware of this need and have no hunger and thirst for the Sacrament?
To such a person no better advice can be given than this: first, he should touch his body to see if he still has flesh and blood. Then he should believe what the Scriptures say of it in Galatians 5 and Romans 7.
Second, he should look around to see whether he is still in the world, and remember that there will be no lack of sin and trouble, as the Scriptures say in John 15-16 and in 1 John 2 and 5.
Third, he will certainly have the devil also around him, who with his lying and murdering day and night will let him have no peace, within or without, as the Scriptures picture him in John 8 and 16; 1 Peter 5; Ephesians 6; and 2 Timothy 2.
Finally, comes this warning, from Galatians 6, “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked. For whatever one sows, that he will also reap.”