Luke 13:31-35 (NRSV)
Read Luke 13:31-35 on biblegateway.com
Verse 31At that very hour some Pharisees came and said to him, "Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you." Verse 32He said to them, "Go and tell that fox for me, 'Listen, I am casting out demons and performing cures today and tomorrow, and on the third day I finish my work. Verse 33Yet today, tomorrow, and the next day I must be on my way, because it is impossible for a prophet to be killed outside of Jerusalem.' Verse 34Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! Verse 35See, your house is left to you. And I tell you, you will not see me until the time comes when you say, 'Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.'"
Why does Herod Antipas want to kill Jesus? Because that's what venal and destructive people who wield power do to prophets who expose their abuses. The resistance to Jesus and the "kingdom" he inaugurates is a familiar story; Jesus appears unsurprised by it and equally unconcerned. His story will end another way, for Herod's power is ultimately no match for what God has in store.
This passage nevertheless reiterates that Jesus' gospel creates conflict, for it is about clashing values. No one wants to have their lies exposed, their selfishness thwarted, their power frustrated, and their privileges evaporated. This is especially true for tyrants and their enablers, but it extends to all of us who have conditioned ourselves to resist good news that promises grace without limits, as if such realities were too good to be true or too wild to manage.
God of infinite grace, you love us too much to leave us to ourselves, even though we do so much to protect ourselves from you and to find security apart from you. We know our resistance does not scare you off, and we rejoice that you will finish your work with us. Amen.