The New Testament refers to the Pharisees almost one hundred times; a vast majority of them are negative. And yet, here in the passage from Luke we find the Pharisees warning Jesus about Herod’s intentions to kill him. Clearly, not all Pharisees have ill intentions toward Jesus. In fact, this passage indicates that a group of them feel concern for Jesus’ well-being. Even so, they miss the point.
Jesus’ response to the Pharisees is both enigmatic and instructive. Jesus understands his work as a part of a broader and more significant mission than any plan of Herod or the Pharisees: “Today, tomorrow, and the next day I must be on my way.” Jesus still has work to do, and he will not allow a threat from Herod to detract from this mission. Jesus ignores the advice of the Pharisees but reveals that his mission will lead him to death. Even in this instance, Jesus holds the power by choosing the location of his death: “It is impossible for a prophet to be killed outside of Jerusalem.” Jesus will not usurp Herod’s power; he will be empowered by the cross.
How easily we, like the Pharisees, forget Jesus’ true intentions. We get wrapped up in divisions within churches, whether based on style of worship or theological understanding. Jesus continues his work of healing as he moves toward his death. As we make our way through the season of Lent, may we keep in mind Jesus’ mission. His mission led him to suffering and death on the cross while culminating in his saving work on earth.

God of the universe, may we ponder your healing work among us as we walk with Jesus toward the cross. Amen.

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