With the words of the great hymn “How great thou art”, still ringing in my ears, I see in my mind’s eye a stream running down over stones in little waterfalls, the water crystal clear, a beautiful tinkling noise in the background. Soft vegetation and ferns abound around it. “That is a picture of the ‘Water of Life’, which you have drunk from – it has given you eternal life – but continue to drink from it, as it continually washes you clean.” The Father then takes me by the hand and leads me into the forest. The environment, trees, shrubs, flowers, beautiful and so peaceful – yet there are thorn bushes between and snakes lurking. “I am walking with you as I did with Adam in the Garden, but here I need to guide you – here are all sorts of threats – I am leading you to a garden where we can have pure communion without the threats – forever – close to Me and My love. My love now is very real – but for now you must receive it by faith – until then when you will be able to see it with your own eyes, when you are finally in My full presence”.
My reading today is Luke 13:31-35. It is of course to be read in context, especially of the previous story in 13:22-30. We must also remind ourselves that Luke is describing Jesus on a journey which will end in Jerusalem, cf 13:22. So, what can this little story about Herod and his tricks and Jerusalem and Jesus’ longing to gather His chicks, have to say to us – to you and I today? Why don’t you read it through and jot down what you are seeing in it? Remember we need to first establish what it meant to the people of that time, before we can understand it for ourselves now.
So firstly we are reminded through Herod, of the threat that is hanging over Jesus’ head of His death. But notice v 32b “On the third day I will reach my goal”. This reminds us of two things: 1. Nothing would stop Jesus from reaching His goal. (remember Peter in Acts 2:23) 2. So what is His immediate goal? Well that has to do with HIs destination – Jerusalem. So what does Jerusalem represent?
Firstly Jerusalem was God’s city. It represented God’s presence among His people – the temple. It was the focal point of God’s Kingdom here on earth as described under the Old Covenant. But now it is to be the focal point of a new work of God. We have already seen in vv 18 and again 20 a reminder that, that kingdom was now breaking into the world and was going radiate into the rest of the world (from Jerusalem). So what does this passage say is going to happen in Jerusalem that will be the fulcrum that will launch the kingdom? Firstly because the children of Jerusalem have rejected the King, their house will be left desolate. v 35 a. So the old purpose of the temple as the center of the kingdom, is being done away with, because the chicks were not willing to be gathered – ie. judgement. What is going to happen now is always presented against the background of God’s judgement?
So what is going to happen to launch the kingdom? See the last phrase in v 35 “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord”, gives us the clue. The people at that time would have been familiar with that statement, but are you? As it shows in the NIV margin it comes from Psalm 118:26., but appears to have been a common slogan. If you look at that vs in Psalm 118 and notice the vs before – vs 25. What does it say? What is He, who comes in the name of the Lord (the Messiah) going to bring? Well folks the mystery is out, that is what the people at that time were looking for, what they regarded as the ultimate blessing when Messiah would come. Can you see it? Salvation. However their expectation was another sort of salvation. Notice also the strange reference to ‘the third day’ and the very real threat to Jesus’ life. So the mystery still has to be completely unveiled, as we proceed in Luke.
For me today: as I meditated on this passage – firstly God has an unswerving purpose, which is involved with His kingdom, starting with salvation for each individual who will be part of the Kingdom. Nothing, no matter how severe, no war, no earthquake or storm nor a Covid pandemic can prevent that – so I can have complete confidence in His completing this plan and my part in it. Secondly I have to take note of the fact that many people choose to reject this message of the reason for Jesus’ coming. Pertinently, as is also warned in the previous story, these are often the very people who think they are OK. Often sitting on the church bench next to you. This means they will face judgement. From my perspective it encourages me all the more to share the gospel, at the same time understanding and expecting rejection often. Thirdly – I need to remember there is only one place where salvation was won for mankind, The old temple has been desolated and the new temple is Jesus Himself where I meet with God. And the plan for me and the world is securely tied up with Him in His plan.
Happy digging in His garden for His treasures, which are there for all those who seek diligently and then you will hear Jesus speaking to you.