Tag Archives: Luke 13:31-35

Stand firm

(Philippians 3:17-4:1) “Hold fast!” – “Stand firm!” it sounds a bit like a battle, and so it is. You can see that in the gospel reading today (Luke 13:31-35), as Jesus refuses distraction in the work he has to do before he goes to Jerusalem to die. Paul’s words to the Philippians sound less military, but. .

“Keep on imitating me” Paul says. We might prefer “Keep on imitating Jesus”. But, then as now, many don’t know Jesus to follow, and look to us to see something of him. It’s a big responsibility – we know we fail, but that is part of it. How to fail, repent, and go on – that is very important.

“For many live as enemies of the cross of Christ” What a strange way of putting it! (We’re back to the battle) Doesn’t he mean enemies of Christ? Perhaps, but as he explains in verse 19, we see he means not only a selfish life, in opposition to Jesus teaching; but also the complete opposite of his example. Jesus gave, they take.

The enemies of Christ’s death on the cross live for themselves: food, drink, money, sex, comfort, ambition, power, ME and mine.

“Their end is destruction” – “They are going to end up in hell” – Paul’s words, but pretty blunt. We might say its a “dead end”; but we need to take seriously the consequences of going that way. There has to be an alternative, and there is.

“But our citizenship is in heaven” Simple, yet important. This – this world, this job, this text – isn’t where we have to succeed, or fail. Jesus death on the cross opens up for us a new horizon. He found reason to live for us and give for us, even to the extent of that death. As we learn to follow, we find more important things than ME and mine. God’s love is worth more than a promotion; serving with his people is worth more than comfort or power.

We don’t find it easy to teach children to share – toys, or parents, or anything else. We don’t find it easy to teach Christians, even when they say they are committed to being disciples of Jesus, that their lives must follow a different Way to the rest of the world. A better Way, but one which involves discipline and sacrifice to achieve more wonderful things on earth, and in heaven, our place as Citizens of Jesus Kingdom. It’s not just that there are one or two things we don’t do, and some little habits (like prayer and services) we add on. The Christian Way is a whole attitude to life, sometimes difficult and demanding, but worth everything.

Paul was close to the Christians in Philippi – but even there he had to remind them about Christian behaviour, and the need to “stand firm in the Lord”

Standing firm, but in the Lord, not in unchanging tradition. Philippi was a Roman colony – they would understand about being citizens of somewhere else, and the benefits of that. But being citizens of heaven was something they needed to go on learning – as we do.

Who is threatened? (Lent 2c)

Lent 2c gospel – Luke 13:31-35

We had a good look at this in Bible Study, and found plenty to think about.

Is the warning friendly, or a veiled threat? It is not clear, but Jesus’ in response suggests he is confronting evil constantly, and will not be put off that. (In the parallel passage in Matthew, 23:29ff, there is open criticism of the Pharisees, and a fuller explanation of the fate of prophets).

At the same time, Jesus’ ministry is not standing still, but moving on to a climax, and a climax in Jerusalem!

What is his concern for “Jerusalem”? I think it unlikely he is sentimental about the place. He speaks of concern for the people, and I wonder if he also laments the culture dominant in both the religious and political life of the city. If only they would hear, and take the way of peace! This is very much a Lenten concern. If only we would hear!

But hearing has to lead to more, to practical application over time and where possible in wider society. Jesus looks forward to Palm Sunday, the (“Benedictus”) shouts of the crowd as he rides into Jerusalem on a donkey (quotes from Ps 118: v26, v25 is Hosanna, while v22 will become important to Christians and quoted several times in the New Testament). That enthusiasm will be short lived, and not avoid his betrayal and death. Can we do better, without acting like Peter? (Luke 22:31-34 and parallels).

Is this passage tragedy playing out to it ending? Or does it speak of the need for reality – and if so, did Jesus have it? Certainly there is much here about human frailty and the ugly side of power struggles.