The Gospel Reading
In this short reading, we have Jesus being warned by the Pharisees to flee the area because of the murderous intentions of Herod. Jesus responds to this warning with defiance. He calls Herod a fox and then goes on to say that he has work to do and that he did not intend to hide or to run. In this response, we have a foreshadowing of the resurrection; “today and tomorrow, and the third day I finish my course.” Jesus then proclaims that his death will occur in Jerusalem, “for it cannot be that a prophet should perish away from Jerusalem.” (Luke 13: 33(b) Revised Standard Version) In this verse and in verse 34 that follows, Jesus clearly aligns himself with the prophets and claims that it is God who is in charge and not Herod. Jesus then laments the coming trouble to Jerusalem. Jesus does this employing the image of a mother hen for God, echoing images found in Deuteronomy 32:11, Ruth 2:12, Psalms 17:8, 36:7, 91:4 and Isaiah 31:5.
“Behold, your house is forsaken,” (Luke 13:35 RSV) is heard by many scholars as a reference to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. by the Romans. This First Century calamity resulted in the burning of Jerusalem, the destruction of the Temple, and the killing or selling into slavery of tens of thousands of Jews. This horror began under the leadership of Vespasian and then was finished by his son Titus. This event would have been fresh in the minds of the Jews who would have heard Luke read for the first time. This lection finishes with a proclamation by Jesus, “I tell you, you will not see me until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!'” (NRSV) Many see this as foreshadowing the cries of the people as Jesus made his entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. I like to think of it in terms of a promise given to us, as individuals and as the church. We will see Jesus when we proclaim to the world, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”