Lent begins…

Yesterday was the first Sunday in Lent, the forty day period in which Christians have historically begun to think about Jesus’ impending death on the cross. 

I thought I would use this Monday post these next six weeks to look toward the cross, primarily following the lectionary readings for the following Sunday.  We missed yesterday’s, which was from Luke 4:1-13, Jesus’ temptation.  I want, however, to start with next Sunday, in case someone wants to preach the lectionary these remaining Sundays of Lent.  I take my lectionary information from this United Methodist site.

The Gospel Reading for this coming Sunday is Luke 13:31-35.  This part of Luke is part of his long travel narrative that begins in Luke 9:51.  Interestingly, Luke presents all the material from here to chapter 19 as along the way to Jerusalem.  Then of course Jesus is in and around Jerusalem for the remainder of the gospel as well.

The scene of Sunday’s reading is the report that Herod Antipas, who beheaded John the Baptist, was wanting to kill Jesus.  Jesus has a sharp retort for Herod.  In a possible allusion to Hosea 6:2, Jesus says he will reach Jerusalem on the third day.  He calls himself a prophet and looks to his impending death (Luke 13:33).

Then Jesus compares himself to a hen trying to gather its chicks to save them (Luke 13:34-35; identical material to Matthew 23:37-39).  Jesus reflects on how he has come and tried to save Jerusalem from itself.  But it had refused, as it refused so many OT prophets like Jeremiah.  Of course by the time Matthew and Luke were probably written, the readers would hear these words and remember that God had in fact let the Romans destroy Jerusalem.

There are lessons here on several levels.  There are lessons for us as individuals to allow God to gather us, not to stubbornly refuse the One who has only our good in mind.  There are lessons for the church to allow God to gather it, rather than set our course stubbornly on what we are convinced of.  And of course we, unlike Jesus, should examine ourselves to see whether we are the hens we think we are, or whether it is some in our congregations who are the hens and we the chicks.