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Pointed Towards the Cross

March 12, 2022 • Life for Leaders

Scripture – Luke 13:31-35 (NRSV)

Some Pharisees came and said to Jesus, “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.’”

Read all of Luke 13 here.

Focus

Jesus Christ covenanted to love us until the end. That is why he pointed himself to walk the road to the cross. This Lent, may we walk it with him.

Devotion

Yesterday, we looked at God’s first covenant with Abram in Genesis 15—a strange, dark, and yet comforting story where we saw two things: first, God’s unrelenting love and second, the tendency of humans to get lost as they journey, even when they journey at God’s call and with God’s promises. It’s hard to think of a more Lenten message than that.

On Sundays when I write these Life for Leaders devotionals we look at the Gospel passages from the lectionary. During Lent each year, the First Sunday of Lent (celebrated last week) always tells us the story of Christ’s temptation in the wilderness. Then we spend a few weeks looking at aspects of his message before exploring and experiencing the events of Holy Week. In Epiphany, when we consider aspects of Christ’s message, they are aspects that give us “epiphanies”—that point us towards manifestations of Jesus’s power and glory, culminating in the Transfiguration. In Lent, the parts of Jesus’s message that the lectionary give us point somewhere else. They point not towards glory, but towards the cross.

Luke 13, which is appointed for today, the Second Sunday of Lent, is no different. Like yesterday’s devotion from Genesis, the story is both comforting and strange. And although it’s not immediately clear from this passage, Jesus, like Abram in yesterday’s devotion, is also on a journey. Up until this point, he has been traveling and preaching—sometimes preaching quite alarming, apocalyptic things—in various places. But it is in Luke 13:22 that he turns and begins to make his way to Jerusalem. Pointed towards the cross.

As he starts that journey, the Pharisees make a brief appearance. Uncharacteristically, considering most of Jesus’s interactions with the Pharisees, they come not to criticize him but to warn him that Herod wants to kill him. Jesus, though, turns even this warning on its head. The Pharisees want him to hide; he sends them back to Herod with a message that he intends to remain in the public eye, “casting out demons and performing cures.”

Then—although there are no stage directions in the Gospels, of course—I picture Jesus turning from his specific statement to the Pharisees and addressing the larger crowd, as the reminder of his journey to Jerusalem makes him think of that city’s long and difficult history. He speaks of both covenant love and broken covenant: “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!” (Luke 13:34-35).

For, of course, Jesus Christ is the God who made covenant with Abram. The mysterious way that Christ is both human and divine is beyond our understanding, but we know and trust that he was there millennia earlier when Abram cut his sacrificial animals into pieces—that in some way he walked between them to express his undying covenant love for Abram and his descendants. We know that before there was even a Jerusalem, Jesus Christ covenanted to love it until the end. He covenanted to love us until the end. That is why he pointed himself to walk the road to the cross. This Lent, may we walk it with him.

Reflect

What journey are you on?

How is Jesus on that journey with you?

Act

Come See a Child of Low Estate” by W.D. Springett and Zac Hicks is a Christmas song, so why am I suggesting it for your worship today? Because it is a Christmas song that calls to mind not only the tiny Christmas baby, but his Epiphany glory, his Good Friday death for us, and his Easter victory. It is a good song to meditate on in Lent. (You can read all the lyrics here, and may want to meditate on the part below specifically.)

This little babe is Christ the Lord,
whom saints have long expected,
for man He comes to live and die,
despised, betrayed, rejected.
For man He comes to rend the veil
which hides death’s gloomy portal,
and make a home where man with Him
in peace may dwell, immortal.

Pray

Lord, walk with me on the journey of Lent. Amen.

Find all Life for Leaders devotions here. Explore what the Bible has to say about work at the unique website of our partners, the High Calling archive, hosted by the Theology of Work Project. Reflection on today’s Life for Leaders theme can be found here: Weeping Over Jerusalem.


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