So these Pharisees, evidently have some connections. Somebody heard something from a somebody else who was reliable enough for them to go Jesus and say “Get out of here, Herod is out to kill you.” They are trying to help Jesus, because Herod is not a figure to be trifled with. He has already beheaded John the Baptist, another prophet. He could easily kill Jesus too. The Pharisees are trying to help Jesus make a move in the game, take a step in this jostling frenzy of position, influence, image, money, threat and death that we call the human power game.
Jesus will have none of it. He says “”Go and tell that fox, that vicious, lying predator, that I am performing cures today and tomorrow, and on the third day I finish my work.” Jesus has come to bring the realm of God into our world, to bring God’s healing to people who are ill, to bring God’s goodness to people in bondage, to name evil and cast out demons. Eventually he will bring the presence of God into the most horrible places in the world, to the cross and save us all. He is not going to adjust his work to accommodate the machinations of the human power game.
He does not accommodate his work to the dictates of fear.
Neither do we. Christ comes into our world again and again and again. We as a church show Christ as he comes into the world. We participate in that work. And we will not allow the jostling fury of human influence and position and image and money and threat and death to dictate the terms of our work. We do not need to allow our mission to be curtailed by fear.
Look at what Jesus says next: “Yet today, tomorrow and the next day I must be on my way because it is impossible for a prophet to be killed outside Jerusalem.
Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city the kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it!” I wonder what prophets we might have killed, what manifestations of God’s hope we might have stoned to death.
“How often have I longed to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings.”
I wonder what prophets we have killed. I wonder what visions of God’s hope and expressions of God’s love we have stoned to death by following the dictates of the power game, the dictates of fear.
This is hard, because sometimes I feel like those well-intentioned Pharisees. I feel like I have to work within the power game: “Quick, get out of here. Herod is trying to kill you.” “Okay, let’s go!”
And there is a difference between constraining our ministry to the dictates of fear, and simply living as a responsible citizen.
Yes, I will fill out my tax forms and pay my taxes. Yes, I will restrain my speed on the interstate. Yes, when I speak to my neighbor because my neighbor is wrong, I will speak respectfully. That’s how we live together. Yes, when I act out and live by the values I get from Jesus as he is presented in Scripture, I will do so making a self-righteous parade out of myself.
But I will speak, and I will live, and I will act, even if it makes my neighbor uncomfortable. Even if it makes my neighbor angry.
Look at this image. Jesus wishes, longs, aches to gather us together like a mother hen gathers her brood, protecting us under her wings. Jesus longs to gather us because there are still foxes out there, there are vicious, lying predators who will devour us. They will devour our ability to see Christ coming into the world. They will devour our ability to sense the presence of God at work in our lives, and instead they will give us bondage: bondage to greed, bondage to laziness, bondage to self-centeredness, bondage to resentment, bondage to apathy, bondage to hatred, bondage to fear.
I would submit that the truly safe place is beneath Christ’s mother wings, beneath the cross that is, and not playing this game of accommodation, dancing this dance of frenzy and image and position and threat and death.
The truly safe place is the place from which we say “Blessed.” “Blessed is the one who comes.” We say it every time we have communion. “Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.” We are talking about Jesus there. We are talking about the ones that Jesus sends.
Here is what we do. We look at Scripture to find out what Jesus looks like. Then we look in the world to see where Jesus is working right now. Then we say “Blessed.” We say “blessed” with our words. We say “blessed” with our actions, we participate with the work of Christ in the world.
You want to see Jesus? You want to have a sense of God’s presence active and real and at work, then be a part of God’s healing. As Jesus did then, so we do along with Jesus now. You want to have hope for the future? Be a part of God’s goodness now, naming evil, casting out demons. As Jesus did then, so we do with Jesus now.
This is our work. This is the place of safety, the place from which we say “Blessed, blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.”