The Herod in today’s lesson is the one who beheaded John the Baptizer, not the one who wanted to kill the infant Jesus. Jesus was impervious to the threat from Herod told him by the Pharisees, boldly calling Herod ‘that fox’. ‘Fox’ was a derogatory term, one Jews used to designate a devious, insignificant or worthless person.
Prepare to listen. Be still to cultivate the attitude suggested in these words from Isaiah: Incline your ear, and come to me; listen, so that you may live. (Isaiah 55:3)
Read Luke 13:31-35
At that very hour some Pharisees came and said to him, ‘Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you.’ 32He said to them, ‘Go and tell that fox for me, “Listen, I am casting out demons and performing cures today and tomorrow, and on the third day I finish my work. 33Yet today, tomorrow, and the next day I must be on my way, because it is impossible for a prophet to be killed away from Jerusalem.” 34Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! 35See, your house is left to you. And I tell you, you will not see me until the time comes when you say, “Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.”’
Jesus was unfazed by Herod’s threat even though his death was on his mind. He hints at it, referring twice to three days, a common symbol for Jesus’ death and resurrection: ‘today and tomorrow, and on the third day I finish my work. Yet today, tomorrow, and the next day I must be on my way.’ His message to Herod makes clear he knows he’ll die, not in Herod’s time and place (Galilee), but God’s (Jerusalem).
Thinking of his death leads Jesus into a lament, not for himself, but for Jerusalem and the nation, and his desire to gather them as a mother gathers her chicks. With this mothering imagery, he expresses his compassion for his people who were in national turmoil and fearful. Jesus continues to invite us, with our anxieties and fears today to enter his mothering embrace, and be assured that, as the 14th century Julian of Norwich believed, “all will be well, all manner of things will be well.”
What image or phrase in this story attracts your attention today? Take it with you into your day/night.
Respond to Jesus in prayer
Mothering Christ, you offer your compassionate embrace to sooth me in my fears and anxieties. May I remember today to keep walking into your embrace and be assured despite what’s going on around me.
Go and live obediently in the world knowing all manner of things will be well.
Reading the Bible has always been essential to followers of Jesus. I've been reading, studying, teaching and writing reflections on biblical texts for as long as I can remember. I invite you to read the Bible with me during the Lent and into Easter Sunday.