Grace For The Journey
Before we read this morning’s passage, I want to share with you again about this matter of “active listening.” Yesterday morning in my quiet time I was encouraged by reading Andrew Murray’s book, Waiting on God. Andrew Murray was a great missionary and pastor in South Africa. In one place he writes: “A minister has no more solemn duty than teaching people to wait upon God.” Murray applies this to the matter of preaching. Drawing from an incident in the Book of Acts, Murray asks, “Why was it that in the house of Cornelius, when ‘Peter spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell upon all that heard him?’ They had said: ‘We are all here before God to hear all things that are commanded thee of God.’”
Murray applies this truth to expecting to hear from God when we gather together for preaching. He writes: “We may come together to give and to listen to the most earnest exposition of God’s truth with little spiritual profit if there be no waiting for God’s counsel.” He adds, “And so in all our gatherings we need to believe in the Holy Spirit as the Guide and Teacher of God’s saints when they wait to be led by Him into the things which God hath prepared…”
After Jesus spoke about the narrow way, about entering into the Kingdom of God, verse 31 picks up with what happened “on that very day.” In these few short verses of our text Jesus mentions Jerusalem three times and, in essence He says, “Jerusalem: You have become pretty well known for your criminal activity. You need no introduction. Your reputation precedes you; Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to you; Jerusalem, you who have a monopoly on being the locale for killing God’s servants; Jerusalem – it cannot be that a prophet should die anywhere else, but in Jerusalem.”
Jesus is on His way to Jerusalem, on His way to die there; on His way to die on the cross for our sins. Jesus has been on His way for quite some time now, on His way with determination and precision of timing. Nothing will stop Him from His purposes.
Today we will look at some wonderful truths about “The Unstoppable Jesus.” First . . .
I. Consider His Divine Control.
The first thing we see in this passage is that Jesus Christ is in absolute control of absolutely everything! There is nothing that can hinder His purposes. Look beginning at verse 31, “On that very day some Pharisees came, saying to Him, ‘Get out and depart from here, for Herod wants to kill You.’” Some Pharisees came to Jesus and warned Him to get out of town because Herod wanted to kill Him. Most of us are struck by this because we usually think of the Pharisees as the bad guys. But not all were bad. Note closely there in verse 31 that Luke writes “some” Pharisees. Some, not all. Apparently, these Pharisees are sympathetic to Jesus’ call and mission. We need not assume that these Pharisees were somehow lying to Jesus or trying to hurry Him toward Jerusalem so that He would die more quickly.
Some Pharisees were sympathetic toward Jesus:
- A ruler of the Pharisees in Luke 14:1.
- Nicodemus in John 3,
- Gamaliel in Acts 5.
A side note here: Jesus could have said, “Well, the majority of the Pharisees are a bunch of self-centered, religious crazies who reject Me. Therefore, I reject them all!” That is the way some of us might reason when somebody wrongs us. “Well, I’m not going to talk to any of those people. They hurt me, so I am writing them all off!” Thank God for the loving, patient, and preserving example of our Lord Jesus.
Verse 32 tells us, “And He said to them, ‘Go, tell that fox, ‘Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I shall be perfected.’” Jesus knew Herod Antipas to be a schemer, a deceptive man acting with cunning trickery like a fox. The statement, “Today, tomorrow, and the third day” was an idiom or proverb that simply meant, “I’m going to continue my work. Nothing will stop me until I am finished.” The point is, “Tell Herod, He can’t stop me. Nothing can stop me. I act independently of that fox’s plots and schemes. Tell Herod it will be ‘business as usual.’”
Jesus knew where He was going. It is good to be with someone who knows where he is going, is not it? On the other hand, it is very frustrating when you are driving behind someone who does not have a clue where he is going, right? It is good to shop with people who know where they are going and how long they are going to be there, and when they are going to be leaving. Jesus knew where He was going. We see again the steadfast determination of our Lord to complete the task for which He came. He came to die. He says at the last part of verse 32, “And on the third day I shall be perfected.” That is a way of saying, “The day will come – and not a moment too soon or too late – the day will come when My work will be complete.” This is the redemptive work for which Jesus came. He came to die.
He is in control of every event – everything will happen according to His divine plan. He is moving inexorably through the day-by-day ministry of healing the sick and casting out demons, moving step-by-step closer to Jerusalem where He will die.
He says in verse 33, “Nevertheless I must journey today, tomorrow, and the day following; for it cannot be that a prophet should perish outside of Jerusalem.” There is the phrase again: today, tomorrow, and the day following. This was a popular way of saying, “It is business as usual. I have got work to do and nothing will stop Me until I finish My work. And My work will be finished when I die.”
The phrase, “It cannot be that a prophet should die outside of Jerusalem” was a proverbial way of saying, “Given Jerusalem’s reputation for killing God’s servants, it would be highly unusual for a prophet would die anywhere else, anywhere else but in Jerusalem. That’ is the place that has the monopoly on killing good guys.” Jerusalem had a reputation that preceded her of killing the prophets and stoning those sent to her:
- The people wanted to stone David in 1 Samuel 30:6.
- They stoned Adoram in 1 Kings 12:18.
- Naboth was stoned to death in 1 Kings 21:13.
- Zechariah was stoned to death in Jerusalem in 2 Chronicles 24:21.
Jerusalem would live up to this bad reputation by killing Jesus not very long after He makes this statement. Many of the leaders of the early church would be killed as well, Stephen, for example, in Acts 7.
But you see, Jesus came to die. And we are reminded yet again that . . .
- Jesus came not so much to be our moral example, though He is that.
- Jesus came not so much to heal the sick, though He did that.
- Jesus came not so much to tell stories, though He did that.
- Jesus came not so much to hold babies in His arms and bounce them on His knees, though He certainly must have done that.
But these were not the primary reasons our Lord left the glory of heaven and came to fallen creation. No . . .
Jesus came primarily to die.
This is the theme of the Bible . . .
Mark 10:45, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”
John 10:17-18, “My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father.”
Hebrews 2:9, “But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone.”
Jesus knew He would die. He lay His life down of His own to die for us. He died on the cross to pay our sin debt. This truth is what gripped Isaac Watts when he wrote . . .
Alas! and did my Savior bleed
And did my Sovereign die?
Would He devote that sacred head
For such a worm as I?
At the cross, at the cross where I first saw the light,
And the burden of my heart rolled away,
It was there by faith I received my sight,
And now I am happy all the day!
He came to die … the Bible teaches that nothing will hinder His purposes . . .
Proverbs 19:21, “Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.”
Proverbs 21:30, “There is no wisdom, no insight, no plan that can succeed against the Lord.”
- Herod the Great tried to stop Jesus shortly after He was born by ordering the death of all children 2-years old and under. Herod couldn’t stop Jesus.
- Satan tried to stop Jesus by tempting Him in the desert. Satan couldn’t stop Jesus.
- The Scribes and Pharisees often tried to stop Jesus’ teaching. The Scribes and Pharisees couldn’t stop Jesus.
- Herod Antipas tried to stop Jesus, but Herod Antipas couldn’t stop Jesus.
- The soldiers tried to stop Jesus, but the soldiers couldn’t stop Jesus.
- The cross couldn’t stop Him, the grave couldn’t stop Him.
- Death could not stop Him.
He is the “Unstoppable Jesus!”
Consider His Divine Control. Secondly . . .
II. Consider His Divine Compassion.
Listen to Christ’s His love in verse 34, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you were not willing!” He longs for the Jewish people to receive Him as their rightful Messiah, but they will not. They are not willing. He wishes to gather them together the way a loving hen gathers her chicks under her wings to shield them, to love them, to protect them, to care for them, to preserve their lives, but “they were not willing.” Just as John says in John 1:11, “He came to His own, but His own did not receive Him.” They were not willing.
Jesus looks ahead forty years to the horrid destruction of the temple of Jerusalem at the hands of the Romans; AD 70 when Jerusalem’s “house is left desolate.” This is what He means when he says in verse 35, “See! Your house is left to you desolate; and assuredly, I say to you, you shall not see Me until the time comes when you say, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!’” The barren fig tree (Luke 13:6=9) cannot forever remain unpunished. Judgment is coming to Jerusalem.
Then Jesus makes this statement at the end of verse 35, “I say to you, you shall not see Me until the time comes when you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’” This statement could refer to a “forced” confession – a confession apart from conversion; apart from salvation – that will be made one day by every current unbeliever. One day, Christ will return and, as Paul says later, every knee will bow and tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord (Philippians 2:10-11). Believers will confess freely and willingly, but the lost will be forced from hell, forced to admit at that point that Jesus Christ truly was and is the eternal Savior and King.
I read last week in my study a statement to this effect by JC Ryle. He said, “Earth is the only place in God’s creation where there is any infidelity (or unbelief). Hell itself is nothing but truth known too late.” There are no second chances after death. You must receive Jesus Christ as Lord. If you do, you will be saved and you can say freely, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.” He is my Lord, Jesus! But if you will not receive Christ, you will remain separated from God and from hell you will be forced to confess and admit and acknowledge that He was and is and will always be Lord.
One may also interpret this phrase in verse 35 positively. The Apostle Paul speaks of a future mass conversion of Jews. In Romans 11:26-27, Paul writes of a time when the Jewish people – in the main – will embrace Christ as Lord and Savior, a time Paul seems to tie to the second coming of Christ. When Christ returns a large number of Jews will say, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.”
The picture we are left with here is a picture of the divine compassion of Jesus. He loves the way a hen loves her chicks, arms stretched out over them, lovingly caring for them and protecting them. This picture of God as a loving One who gathers His children under His wings is a frequent picture in the Book of Psalms.
In Psalm 17:8, the Bible says, “Keep me as the apple of Your eye; hide me under the shadow of Your wings.”
Psalm 36:7, the Bible says, “How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God! Therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of Your wings.”
Psalm 57:1, the Bible says, “Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me! For my soul trusts in You; and in the shadow of Your wings I will make my refuge, until these calamities have passed by.”
In Psalm 61:4, the Bible says “I will abide in Your tabernacle forever; I will trust in the shelter of Your wings.”
What wondrous love of God,
Who shelters us in His wings!
From these two main considerations – Christ’s divine control of all things, and Christ’s divine compassion – we learn about two reasons every Christian can be encouraged today . . .
1) God Knows What He Is Doing In My Life.
God knows what He is doing at your life, Christian. Consider His divine control. He is in control of everything. He knows your struggles. He is just doing Romans 8:28-29, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son.” God is just working all things out in your life to conform you to the image of His Son, to make you like Jesus. That is what you want, isn’t it? Sure it is.
- God’s working in your school, He is working at your workplace.
- He is working through your marriage.
- He is working through your finances,
- He is working through your ups and downs to make you like Jesus.
He is in complete control and He knows what He’s doing in your life.
Secondly . . .
2) God Loves Me and Covers Me With His Loving Arms.
The beautiful thing about the redemptive work of Jesus Christ is that God’s love for Christians is bound up in the Father’s love for His Son. The Heavenly Father always sees us “in Christ Jesus,” so He will always love us because we are in His Son. God will love us no more and no less. We feel like failures sometimes when we sin. But the joy of redemption and the glory of grace is that God loves us in Christ Jesus. His love never changes. The arms of Jesus are outstretched towards us.
The blind hymn-writer Fannie Crosby, while blind, could see Christ’s love. She wrote these words . . .
A wonderful Savior is Jesus my Lord,
A wonderful Savior to me;
He hideth my soul in the cleft of the rock,
Where rivers of pleasure I see.
He hideth my soul in the cleft of the rock
That shadows a dry, thirsty land;
He hideth my life with the depths of His love,
And covers me there with His hand,
And covers me there with His hand.
And this is a love we then should share with others. We should share this love with our neighbors, with our classmates, with our co-workers, with retailers, with waiters, with strangers, with people of every tribe, nation, and tongue; every ethnicity, every people group throughout the world. In the words of one missionary, “If the arms of God’s people do not reach around the whole world, their arms are too short.”
Christians love because
Christians are loved.
But what of the non-Christian? In John 6:37, Jesus says to every lost person, “The one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out.” Come to the One whose arms are stretched out for you.
This is God’s Word …
This is Grace for your Journey …
Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!
Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”
Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”