New Testament Reading for the Second Week in Lent

“At that time, some Pharisees approached Jesus and said, ‘Go! Get away from here, because Herod wants to kill you.’
Jesus said to them, ‘Go, tell that fox, ‘Look, I’m throwing out demons and healing people today and tomorrow, and on the third day I will complete my work. However, it’s necessary for me to travel today, tomorrow, and the next day because it’s impossible for a prophet to be killed outside of Jerusalem.’’”
Luke 13-31-33

'DSCF7291' photo (c) 2013, StormKatt - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/This verse today makes me chuckle for many reasons. Mostly, for Jesus telling it like it is.

First of all, Jesus calls Herod (Antipas, not to be confused with his father Herod the Great) a fox. Now, this isn’t because Jesus was impressed by Herod’s soft skin and morning hygiene routine. This is because Jesus was not remotely impressed by anything Herod said, did or was connected with. John the Baptist was not impressed either which led to his beheading (see Mark 6:17-19). Foxes are not the most confrontational creatures. They are quick, fast, smart and like to hide in their burrows. Very efficient and very sneaky, only sticking their heads out for their own benefit. Anybody who acted for their own benefit without much consideration of others were the main people Jesus challenged. Jesus was not a fan of Herod, and he did not hold back his feelings.

Secondly, if this story had happened today I sort of imagine Jesus consulting his daily planner and responding with “Look, I’m throwing out demons and healing people today and tomorrow, and on the third day I will complete my work. However, it’s necessary for me to travel today, tomorrow, and the next day because it’s impossible for a prophet to be killed outside of Jerusalem.” Jesus was too busy about his work to be concerned with the from this group of Pharisees or the threats of Herod. Healing the sick and throwing out demons were higher on Jesus priority list than listening to the Pharisees or being afraid of the threats of Herod. Also, surprisingly high on his priority list was dying. Well, maybe it was not high on his priority list, but Jesus was well aware of the imminence of his death and probability it would happen in Jerusalem. Jerusalem was not popular for its treatment of prophets.

Zechariah was stoned to death – 2 Chronicles 24:20-22

Jeremiah was put in stocks – Jeremiah 20:1-2

Jerusalem was destroyed for ignoring prophets – 2 Chronicles 36:15-16

Jesus was well aware of the history of Jerusalem and was very aware that history was about to repeat itself. Both in his killing and the destruction of the city.

During Lent I think we are brought face to face with this challenge of Jesus. We have a decision to make with what we fill our time with. Are we going to fill it with things that are for our own benefit, our on glory, only sticking our heads and hands out when it benefits us? Are we going to act like Herod and find Jesus interesting but not life changing? Will we dispose of Jesus when he does not serve our purpose anymore? Will we build our towers to heaven hoping that somehow, someone might remember us when we die?

Or, will we choose to fill our life with the things Jesus chose to. Helping others, healing the sick, casting out demons and restoring a purpose in life for others? How much time does that occupy in our calendars and our bank statements? Will we choose to help others instead of ourselves? Jesus was not afraid of the powers of the world or concerned with the possibility of death. These things did not hinder or frighten him. Jesus built no monuments to himself, he was not crowned King of any earthly empire, he did not amass large sums of wealth, he was humiliated and executed as a criminal and rebel, his tomb was not adorned or bedazzled. He was about his Fathers work, which brought about something most people would not and did not expect.

Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Philippians 2:9-11 (NRSV)

What things in your life, on your calendar are there for completely selfish reasons? What things, people, powers or times control your life in a such a way that you feel like you cannot be free of them? Take some time during Lent to see where you hours and minutes go. See what times you might free up to give to others and be about the Fathers work. Seek to fill your time with things that will last beyond death, will change people lives and can truly change the world.

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