“The Lord stays the course”
At that very hour some Pharisees came and said to him, “Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you.” And he said to them, “Go and tell that fox, 'Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I finish my course.” (Luke 13:31 ESV)
The season of Lent, which we are two weeks into, is about the suffering and death of Jesus for the forgiveness of the sins of the whole world. The first Sunday in Lent gave us no real indication of what lie ahead for Jesus. Jesus, during a time of great personal weakness, was confronted by the devil in the wilderness and tempted. Yet there was no indication that Jesus’ life was in mortal danger. Certainly, the devil meant him great harm, but Jesus’ walked away alive.
With our reading from Luke 13, it is somewhat different. We hear of somebody actually wanting to take Jesus’ life. It is Herod, who Jesus characterizes as a fox. And a group of Pharisees come and tell Jesus to get out of that region because Herod seeks his life. At last, now we are getting some indication that Lent is about Jesus’ death.
But once again, Jesus will not be distracted. He stays the course. He is in this until he can say the words, “it is finished.” What great comfort and encouragement we find here when we hear that Jesus was determined to fulfill all that was necessary to complete the work of our salvation. What assurance this gives to each of us, to know that our sins are forgiven.
And not only does Jesus go willingly, he goes knowingly. He is fully aware of what must be done. He has known it from the foundation of the world. It is our salvation that Jesus heard even in the bosom of the Father from all eternity. And soon He will return there, from whence he came into our world.
In the Nicene Creed we confess,
“Who for us men, and for our salvation came down from heaven, and was incarnate of the virgin Mary, and was made man; and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate. He suffered and was buried.”
Jesus knows both Herod and the Pharisees too well, and he won’t be distracted from his mission just because they bring word that Herod is breathing threats. As a matter of fact, neither devil, nor Herod, nor anyone else but the Father will set the agenda for the Son of God and his work of redemption by dying on the cross. Jesus will have to die, that is certain. And it will have to be in Jerusalem, where prophets die. And on Good Friday it is into his Father’s hands that Jesus will at the last commend his spirit.