November 10 – Friday of the Twenty-fifth Week after Pentecost (8th of Luke) Luke 13:31-35
A Clash of Wills: Luke 13:31-35, especially vs. 34: “How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you were not willing.” We resist the will of God, by and large, for our wants often clash with His. God wills to give us life, but we are “not willing” (vs. 34) – or worse, we want “to kill” Him (vs. 31).
Today’s Gospel contrasts three groups of people: first, the political and religious leaders of Jesus’ day who want to see Him removed (vs. 31); the ambivalent crowds who desire Him to exorcise their demons and cure their diseases (vs. 32), and yet resist Him; and finally, the disciples He gathers to Himself (vs. 34), who hail Him as “He who comes in the name of the Lord!” (vs. 35). Even these will fail Him at the hour of His Passion.
It is possible to interpret the Pharisees’ warning (“Get out and depart from here, for Herod wants to kill You” – vs. 31) as a kind of helpful advice. Not all the Pharisees “were filled with rage” nor considered “what they might do to Jesus” (vs. 6:11). However, the Gospels suggest that most of them became His implacable enemies (vs. 11:54), and thus their warning carries a hostile overtone when they encourage the Lord Jesus to flee.
According to Saint Cyril of Alexandria, the Pharisees “saw the multitudes already repenting and receiving with eagerness faith in Him.” They know that they are “likely, therefore, to lose their office of being chiefs of the people, and as already fallen and expelled from their authority over them, and deprived of their profits” (Commentary on the Gospel of Saint Luke, p. 401).
Certainly, Herod Antipas is uncomfortable with this popular teacher who attracts large crowds to Himself. Herod likes social concord, to be surrounded by subordinates who are supportive of his reign. Also, he has “heard of all that was done by Him and he was perplexed because it was said by some that John had risen from the dead” (vs. 9:7).
Then there are the crowds of people who come to the Lord Jesus while He is “journeying toward Jerusalem” (vs. 13:22). These come in hope. They have tangible economic, social, personal, and political needs. Their attraction to the Lord has a healthy side, like the impulses of those who go to physicians, pastors, or wise counselors. They need a cure for their diseases and release from demonic possession. Jesus has proven that power “went out from Him and healed them all” (vs. 6:19).
Christ our God, having “steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem” that He might “be received up” (vs. 9:51), also knows that His people resist Him and will one day demand His crucifixion. And so He grieves for them as “Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her” (vs. 13:34). The people are spiritually ill, “double minded” and “unstable” in all their ways (Jas 1:8).
Finally, let consider His own disciples. Most of them are yet to be healed of their passions. Not all are trustworthy, for one will betray Him, one denies Him, and the rest flee in panic.
Only after He has revealed the depth of their sin, the glory of God’s mercy, and the power of the Resurrection do the disciples repent, uniting themselves to Him to the point of death. They continue “steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers” (Acts 2:42). He bears patiently with us as well, waiting for us to cry out to the One who comes in the name of the Lord.
Arise, O compassionate One, and raise us with Thee from the depths of hades. – Verse of Great and Holy Saturday