The Pharisees said, “Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you.” Well, that’s clear. These five verses are quite serious but for me this scene starts out almost comically. The Pharisees’ warning is not veiled in any kind of weird language, which is refreshing, but it’s also so clear that I almost laughed at: “Get away from here…” Got it. “…for Herod wants to kill you.” Also, got it. Can you imagine walking up to someone and saying this?
And then Jesus’ response is even better. This seems to me not as much an angry Jesus, but a confident, sarcastic Jesus. I like this Jesus: “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.” I imagine Jesus pulling out his calendar and saying, “I just can’t get out of here right now- I’m swamped!”. Jesus shows no fear. He knows what’s going on here, and he knows what’s not going on here.
But then it does take a serious turn: Jesus begins to step into the role of a prophet and weeps for the condition of Jerusalem. She has become an insular institution that cannot even hear the prophets that God says to her. Jerusalem has made herself beyond reproach. Anyone who speaks a hard truth about her, she will kill. Jesus imagines himself like a mother hen wanting to gather in her children to love, protect, and nurture them, but Jerusalem itself has become more important than the people that make her up. But the fearless Jesus can’t not speak the truth. He loves Jerusalem, he loves Israel, and he loves her people too much to remain silent. Speak he will, and when they laud with “hosannas” he will know that the time has come when he will pay for his words and deeds.
This theme keeps coming up, and 2,000 years later it’s easy to rally around Jesus and critique the corrupt system existing in Israel at the time. But we have to ask, what of this same kind of insular corruption exists in my own denomination or church? And how is my church structure and hierarchy treating the truth tellers? Will we listen? There is a warning in all of this that we must heed, but so rarely do. It’s hard. Really hard. Those who have ears, let them hear.