God moves past all obstacles

Published 5:07 pm Tuesday, March 19, 2019

By Charles Qualls

You think word spreads fast in Franklin!

I can remember my first day at my first church after seminary. A veteran minister, the associate pastor for music there, really took me under his wing. He was going to show me the ropes. We were talking about something as he took me around the building again. At one point, he stopped and whispered, “Never forget … these walls have ears. I’m just telling you.”

Jesus was walking through the streets in one village and someone asked Him a question in Luke 13:31-35. He answered the question prophetically because that’s what he did now that he had turned his face toward Jerusalem.

Next thing you know, he was delivered a warning that his life was in danger. Not that he didn’t already know.

You do remember that in chapter 9 of Luke, the narrator used those very words. He told us that Jesus had “…turned his face toward Jerusalem.” You’re going to want to remember that for the next few minutes. Now, it took about 11 more chapters before Jesus was actually arrested and crucified. So, we are pardoned if we forget about the whole face turning.

But, the story was never the same after He did.

This is different from “Mom, I can’t turn the water into wine; my time has not yet come.” This is different from “Hey, Jesus thanks for healing me!” To which He would reply, “Go and tell no one, for my time has not yet come.”

We’re told never to burn bridges. But, when we’re short-timers we usually take on a more honest relationship with some of the people around. Jesus was a short-timer now.

Here in our chapter 13 a person asked Him whether only a few will be saved. I don’t know who the guy was who asked Him. But, I suspect he was a member of the religious establishment just by the answer he got from our Lord. Maybe a Pharisee.

Maybe in Jesus’ time and place they didn’t view life in quite the way we do in our modern, Western and supposedly “civilized” culture. But Herod wanted to kill Jesus. Can you imagine someone feeling that way about you? Someone having that broken sense of who you are, or who they are, that they wanted that? Herod had decided that this well-known teaching rabbi from Galilee had to go.

I once had a woman in one of my divorce support groups years ago. On the first night, the participants tell each other the basics of their tragic stories. This woman was no exception, but weeks later she let us in on a whole different level of how bad things had been. She showed us the scars from a reconstructive surgery, all because her ex-spouse had put out a contract to have her eliminated, and a car had been involved.

Did you catch how bad things had apparently gotten in our story? Jesus is now getting his warnings, his heads-up, from Pharisees! The ones we tend to snarl at because we know it seems like they’re always trying to entrap Him, or they send someone to ask him a question and catch him off guard.

Those guys. Now, they are giving our Lord fair warning and telling him to leave. The whole thing is so mind-boggling.

Jesus sends this message back to Herod, basically telling him that nothing will stop him from reaching his intended destination, his fate. His real showdown in Jerusalem. But, there’s something fascinating about his response.

A writer on this text reminds us that a fox is an animal we think of as being clever and cunning. But, the truth is that a fox is in reality just a small and fairly frail dog. They feed by chasing smaller, weaker animals like chickens and their baby chicks.

Jesus calls Herod a “fox.” Then, he reiterates that he must move on and finish his ministry. Which we know is waiting in Jerusalem. The “chicks” off whom Herod is already feeding are waiting for Jesus in Jerusalem. He lays the whole thing out right there. He would like to gather Jerusalem up under his wing and nurture her.

Lent drives us toward a showdown of sorts. A confrontation for Jesus with both Herod’s powers and a fickle humanity who see his goodness and power, but want to kill him anyway. Lent reminds us that still God pressed on. God has been moving in the same direction since the covenants, transforming and redeeming where humanity will allow. Side-stepping obstacles where humanity insists.

THE REV. DR. CHARLES QUALLS is senior pastor at Franklin Baptist Church. Contact him at 562-5135.