Bible Study February 4 for Worship February 24Posted: January 31, 2013
Bible Study February 4 for Worship February 24
Luke 13: 31 At that very hour some Pharisees came, and said to him, “Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you.”
32 And he said to them, “Go and tell that fox, ‘Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I finish my course.
33 Nevertheless I must go on my way today and tomorrow and the day following; for it cannot be that a prophet should perish away from Jerusalem.’
34 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, killing the prophets and stoning those who are sent to you! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not!
35 Behold, your house is forsaken. And I tell you, you will not see me until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!'”
This short passage may hold an important clue about Jesus and his ministry. First of all we learn that not all Pharisees were unfriendly to Jesus. The Pharisees were a broad group of people working on redefining Judaism and the law. There were strict Pharisees and there were more liberal Pharisees. Certainly Jesus would have been numbered among the more liberal. These Pharisees were certainly on Jesus’ side over against Herod.
After the Fall of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. the Sadducees were all killed or deported. The main opposition to the early church resisting the claims of the Jesus movement was the Pharisees. The Pharisees still survive in the form of Rabbinic Judaism. The early church then found themselves in competition with and opposition to the Pharisees, but Jesus himself would have been identified as a Pharisee although a more liberal Pharisee.
We can also note from this passage that Herod was concerned enough about the ministry of Jesus to consider having him arrested and perhaps executed like John. So if Jesus was so meek and mild, why would Herod be so concerned about his ministry, because Jesus was considered radical and revolutionary. He advocated for the poor. He preached sharing. He opposed the oppression of the peasants and the fishermen. Herod represented the wealthy over against the poor. One reason Jesus conducted an itinerant ministry was to stay one step ahead of arrest. If Jesus had not been arrested and killed in Jerusalem, it probably would have happened eventually in Galilee.
The Herod the passage refers to was Herod Antipas. Herod Anitpas was a son of Herod the Great. He was a shrewd survivor. He had been sent to Rome as a hostage to guarantee his father’s loyalty to Rome, and so he was given a Roman education. He was not originally slated to succeed his father, but two of his half-brothers were executed along with their mother Mariamne for reputedly plotting against their father. Their execution prompted August to say, “I would rather be Herod’s pig than his son.”
When Herod the Great died he divided his Kingdom between three surviving sons, Archelaus, Herod Anitpas, and Herod Philip Archelaus was given Judea and the title of King, while Antipas and Philip were given lesser lands and the title of Ethnarc, Native Prince. When Archelaus proved incapable of governing Judea was turned into a direct Roman Province with a lesser governor, known as a procurator. Antipas set about to fortify his lands and to squeeze them for all the taxes he could get. When John the Baptists began a ministry of preaching in his territory and attracted large crowds, Antipas had him arrested and ultimately executed.
After John was executed Jesus began a public ministry of preaching and protest. Antipas had him watched. Indeed at one point the gospels claim that Antipas was afraid that Jesus was John the Baptist returned from the dead to haunt him. Apparently that was a common belief among the peasants, for when Jesus asked his disciples, “who do men say that I am,” their first response was, “John the Baptist.”
It is believable that Antipas was seeking to arrest Jesus in the same way he had arrested John the Baptist before him. We can also imagine friendly Pharisees would have warned Jesus that Anitpas was after him. In this passage Jesus referred to Anitpas as a fox, because he was such a shrewd survivor. In Rabbinical literature “fox” can also refer to a person of unimportance. This also indicates that Jesus understood his danger. A ruler as shrewd as Herod would surely stop a radical preacher like Jesus. So Jesus resolved to remain on the move always one step ahead of arrest. The phrase “the third day I finish my course,” may have been added to the original in order to make reference to the resurrection. Jesus’ object was not to die quietly in Herod’s dungeon, but to make a plea to the nation at Passover in Jerusalem. Did Jesus expect to survive his Jerusalem Passover appearance? We cannot be sure. But surely he was aware of the danger: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, killing the prophets and stoning those who are sent to you!”
LET’S ASK SOME QUESTIONS OF THE TEXT
1. Who warned Jesus to get away?
2. According to the people warning Jesus, who was after him?
3. What epithet did Jesus use to refer to the person who was after him?
4. What reason did Jesus give for moving on?
5. In our text where does it appear that Jesus will meet his end?
6. According to the text, when will Jerusalem see him again?
7. In verse 34 what animal image did Jesus use to refer to himself.
LET’S ALLOW THE TEXT TO ASK QUESTIONS OF US
1. Why do you suppose Herod was looking for Jesus?
2. Have you ever wondered Jesus conducted an itinerant ministry?
3. If Jesus was so meek and mild, why do you think they ended up crucifying him?
4. Which is more dangerous a violent revolutionary or a non-violent prophet?
5. What examples of contemporary non-violent prophets can you think of?
6. Why do you think Jesus did not want to perish away from Jerusalem?
7. How would the church be different if it members were faithful followers of the Jesus who had to keep moving in order to avoid arrest?
8. Why do you think we don’t want our Jesus to be a trouble maker?
Week of February 18 – February 24: Second Sunday in Lent – Luke 13:31-35 – Strong and Tender – Genesis 15:1-12, 17-18, Psalm 27, Philippians 3:17 –