March 11, 2001

Luke 13:31-35

Just them some Pharisees came up and said, "Run for your life! Herod's on the hunt. He's out to kill you!"

Jesus said, "Tell that fox that I've no time for him right now. Today and tomorrow I'm busy clearing out the demons and healing the sick; the third day I'm wrapping things up. Besides, it's not proper for a prophet to come to a bad end outside Jerusalem.

Jerusalem, Jerusalem, killer of prophets,
abuser of the messengers of God!
How often I've longed to gather your children,
gather your children like a hen,
Her brood safe under her wings --
but you refused and turned away!
And now it's too late: You won't see me again
until the day you say,
'Blessed is he
who comes in
the name of God.'"

<The Message >


1. Scene: Jesus shouting at religious legalists

"'Woe to you! You build tombs for the prophets whom your fathers killed. Yet you do again what your fathers did before. You serpents! You brood of vipers! How are you going to escape the devouring fires of Gehenna? Therefore the Wisdom of God says, I will send them prophets and apostles, some of whom they will kill and persecute -- so that the blood of all the prophets, shed from the foundations of the world, may be required of this generation! I tell you, all the blood, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, shall be required of this generation!'

"Suddenly Jesus fell silent. The entire multitude seemed to be holding its breath. The day itself was still and windless.

"Thomas looked at the face of the Master and was also moved to an aweful silence. The fires were out. Suddenly Jesus was pale and sad and very tired.

"Slowly the Lord descended from his stony platform. Slowly he began to walk down hill toward the Jordan, staring again into the distance, due west.

"People pressed backward, making a path for him.

"Jesus began to speak again -- scarcely above a murmur; but yet by a mystery everyone heard him. From the front of that congregation to the very back, every heart heard his words and every mind remembered them:

"'Jerusalem, Jerusalem,' he mourned, 'killing the prophets and stoning those who are sent to you! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her chicks beneath her wings, and you would not! O my people, your holy house is now forsaken. I tell you, you will not see me against until you say, Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.'

"Jesus walked down to the Jordan and out into its waters. There he stood with his back to the crowds, waist-deep in the river, neither speaking nor turning around.

"It was as if the sun had blackened. The people dispersed. They withdrew to their cities in Perea and Judea and Samaria; Betharbara, Qumran, Jericho, Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Emmaus, Lydda, Joppa, Sychar. They went home and did not come back.

"By evening, only the disciples remained.

"Mary Magdalene cut a pomegranate into halves and walked out into the water and stood next to Jesus a while.

"Andrew said to Thomas, 'That is the exact spot where John baptized him. And they killed John. What do you think they'll do to Jesus?'

<from The Book of God, by Walter Wangerin, Jr.>

2. As you can tell Wangerin has changed the timing on the relating of this event. If you were to put it in relationship to another event in Jesus' life, where would you put it? After coming down from the mountain of transfiguration? the raising of Lazarus? from the cross (an eighth word)?

3. For a moment shift gears and put these words in your mouth. What are you a mother hen for? Some years ago the United Methodists had an important document entitled, "In Defense of Creation: The Nuclear Crisis and a Just Peace." What would you defend these days? Naming your chickens is important. It doesn't mean the chicks will be defensible, but it does indicate our intentions and our availability to them.

Might you be caught saying:
"Human rights, Human rights, how I would ..."
"Gender equity, gender equity, how I would ..."
"Environmental integrity, environmental integrity, how I would ..."
"Worker justice, worker justice, how I would ..."

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