At that very hour, some Pharisees came and said to [Jesus]: “Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill You.” 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.’”
Prophets don’t do well with the rulers of the Jewish people. This has been so from the very beginning of
So it was with the Old Testament prophets sent to the Jewish people. But it was the same in the days of Christ. You heard what the Pharisees reported to Jesus: “Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill You.” Jesus is faced with the king’s anger. He is presented with the threat of death. And it isn’t without warrant; for like Jesus, you have heard about the dealings that Herod had with prophets.
In one of this year’s Advent Gospel Readings, you heard this about a prophet and Herod: “So with many other exhortations [John] preached good news to the people. But Herod the tetrarch, who had been reproved by him for Herodias, his brother’s wife, and for all the evil things that Herod had done, added this to them all, that he locked up John in prison.” The last of the prophets had his face-off with Herod. It got John thrown into prison, and worse. The Evangelist records: “Now Herod the tetrarch heard about all that was happening, and he was perplexed, because it was said that John had been raised from the dead, by some that Elijah had appeared, and by others that one of the prophets of old had risen. Herod said, ‘John I beheaded, but who is this about whom I hear such things?’ And he sought to see [Jesus].”
Now the Pharisees bring Jesus the message: “Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill You.” So what is Jesus to do? Should He leave the area, abandoning His mission and fleeing for His life? Should He turn and actively engage Herod, condemning him for the murder of John? Or should He do something else? You heard what Jesus said: “Go and tell that fox, ‘Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I finish My course. 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
Why can Jesus act this way? And why could Jeremiah and the other prophets continue to speak openly in the face of potential death? It is possible because they were given the Spirit of the Lord and His Words to declare. This was their calling. This was their duty. No matter the audience, no matter the opposition, the message was to be spoken. You see this in Jeremiah’s response to
Jeremiah was given the words to speak, and speak he must. Likewise, Jesus had been appointed for a duty, and fulfill it He must. That is why He tells Herod: “Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I finish My course.” The opposition that the monarch may bring cannot prevent the fulfillment of Christ’s duties. If Herod wants to see Jesus, there He is in public for observation. If Herod wants to seize Jesus, there He is out in the open. But what the Eternal Father had determined for His Son to achieve in this world would come to pass. And no Tetrarch of Galilee would stop it from happening.
And just what is it that Jesus must fulfill? His words give detail: “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
So Jesus goes on His way. He tells the Pharisees and the others who hear: “O
In that act, Jesus turns the tide on all the opponents to the Divine Will. There are many who actively oppose the Lord God, His way of life, His precepts and commandments. They chase after what their hearts desire, whatever makes them autonomous, their own gods. The Apostle describes them: “Many . . . walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things.” So it was for the officials of Judah who questioned Jeremiah’s prophecy and for Herod who refused to heed John’s rebuke.
The opponents of the Divine Will may seem successful. They certainly have a better time of it here on earth. Compared to them, the Lord God’s people appear pitiful. The Psalmist’s lament depicts this well: “O men, how long shall my honor be turned to shame? How long will you love vain words and seek after lies?” There is little satisfaction for believers in this world. But the death and resurrection of Christ will reverse this. The Apostle reminds his audience of Philippian Christians: “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like His glorious body, by the power the enables Him even to subject all things to Himself.”
Paul’s statement about Christ is based upon what the Lord says: “I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I finish My course.” Jesus finishes His course. It is not left unfinished. He is not preempted by Herod or the Pharisees or the chief priests and the elders. What has been determined from the foundation of the earth to take place will come to pass. Jesus will enter
That is what Jesus accomplishes, what He accomplishes for you. For through His actions, you also have a course set for you. It isn’t destruction, but resurrection. It isn’t condemnation, but redemption. For your minds are no longer set on earthly things, but on the glory of heaven that Christ has won for you. You may suffer humility and shame now, as the psalmist describes. There are enemies who may seek your life because you dare to speak the Lord’s words and believe them. But your course is set with Jesus who reached His goal, despite the opposition brought by sin, death, the minions of Satan, even your own sinful desires.
So the message of the prophets is spoken to you: “Mend your ways and your deeds, and obey the voice of the Lord your God.” The psalmist’s exhortation is meant for you: “Offer sacrifices, and put your trust in the Lord.” The Apostle’s instructions are given to you: “Join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. . . . [S]tand firm thus in the Lord.” Christ’s statement shows His desire for you: “How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings.”
You are called to repentance and reconciliation, and you have responded. Brought into the citizenship of heaven, you are also called to boldness and courage. Despite the opposition, your Lord is not victimized, but victorious. Jesus’ statement stands true: “The third day I finish My course.” For Jesus was crucified, died, and was buried, but on the third day rose again from the dead. And since Christ finished His course, you shall see Him “who will transform our lowly body to be like His glorious body, by the power that enables Him even to subject all things to Himself.” And you shall say for all eternity: “Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord!”
T In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.