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Daily Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Thursday, March 24, 2022  

Today’s Scripture Reading  |  Luke 13:31–35

At that very hour some Pharisees came and said to him, “Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you.” He 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. Yet 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.’ Jerusalem, 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! See, 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.’” (NRSV)

Jesus had to know that the death threat mentioned by the Pharisees wasn’t idle talk. Nevertheless, Jesus’ response to the Pharisees is a stern rebuke and a sad prophecy about the role that leaders in Jerusalem would play in attempts to end his ministry. The one thing his response isn’t is ambiguous. By the time this passage ends, we know exactly what Jesus is doing, where he will be doing it, and for how long.

As I reflect on this passage, I am struck by the clear and direct nature of Jesus’ answer. Jesus knew the work he had intended to do, and not even death threats would deter him. In contrast to Jesus’ example, I’m embarrassed by how so much less than death threats regularly threaten to derail my life of service. Packed schedules, fatigue, stress, cold temperatures, and the early sunsets of our Midwestern winters are just a few of the many factors that have regularly challenged my good intentions to serve.

Perhaps at least part of the answer to an unwavering commitment to Christian service is apparent in the quick and decisive response Jesus gave to the Pharisees. Jesus didn’t give himself time to think about the Pharisees’ warning or to question the commitment he had already made to those to whom he was ministering. He doesn’t appear to question how he is feeling or how little sleep he had gotten the night before. He merely followed through with the commitment he had already made.

It’s been said that Satan doesn’t have to make us renounce our faith but merely make us too busy or too tired to live it out. Lord, strengthen our commitment to Christian service in ways that bring care to those in need and that send a message to others who might seek to hinder—or help—our efforts. In Christ’s name we pray. Amen.

Written by John Marr, Member of Fourth Presbyterian Church

Reflection and prayer © Fourth Presbyterian Church

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