“A Lamb Goes Uncomplaining Forth”
(Luke 13:31-35 – Lent 2 – March 13, 2022)
Luke 13:31-35 – 31On that very day some Pharisees came, saying to Him, “Get out and depart from here, for Herod wants to kill You.” 32And He said to them, “Go, tell that fox, ‘Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I shall be perfected.’ 33Nevertheless I must journey today, tomorrow, and the day following; for it cannot be that a prophet should perish outside of Jerusalem. 34O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you were not willing! 35See! Your house is left to you desolate; and assuredly, I say to you, you shall not see Me until the time comes when you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!’ “
Dear Redeemed in Christ, the Lamb of God who was crucified for us:
Certain tasks we do with great determination, because they are very important to us. A man may go off to work each day at an unpleasant job. His love moves him to do what it takes to provide for his family. A mother may hear her baby’s cries in the middle of the night and rise out of her comfortable bed. Her love moves her to do what it takes to comfort her little one. When we love someone, nothing will stop our determination to serve their best interests.
In our text, we see Jesus’ determination to finish His task as the Savior. No intimidation of an earthly ruler, no trickery of religious leaders, not even the threat of death by His enemies, will throw Jesus off course. His love moves Him to go all the way to the cross to save sinners. That is why two chapters earlier before it said: “when the time had come for Him to be received up, that He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem” (Luke 9:51). The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, filled with love’s determination, goes steadfastly to the cross at His Father’s command; as we sang in the hymn, “A Lamb Goes Uncomplaining Forth” (vs. 2-3):
“Go forth, My Son,” the Father saith,
“And free men from the fear of death,
From guilt and condemnation.
The wrath and stripes are hard to bear,
But by Thy Passion men shall share
The fruit of Thy salvation.”
And the Son answers…
“Yea, Father, yea, most willingly
I’ll bear what Thou commandest;
My will conforms to Thy decree,
I do what Thou demandest.”
“A Lamb Goes Uncomplaining Forth.” In fulfillment of God’s prophecy in Isaiah 53, 1) He was led as a lamb to the slaughter; 2) He was despised and rejected by men; but all this He did most willingly, for 3) The pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in His hand.
1) He was led as a lamb to the slaughter
Isaiah wrote of Jesus: “He was led as a lamb to the slaughter” (Isaiah 53:7). The prophet foresaw how Jesus would humble Himself in obedience to the will of His Father, obedient to the point of death on a cross (Philippians 2:8). The innocent Lamb of God would let Himself be arrested, condemned, and crucified at the hands of His enemies. Yet by the eternal decree of His Father, it would fulfill God’s plan that His own Son be sacrificed for the sins of the world.
To Jesus’ enemies, it all looked like something that would depend on their own sly designs. They were constantly plotting how to lead Him to the slaughter by some form of trickery. Here we meet some of Jesus’ enemies, as it says: “On that very day some Pharisees came, saying to Him, ‘Get out and depart from here, for Herod wants to kill You’ ” (vs. 31). They sure sound like friends, don’t they? At least on the surface, they seem to be concerned for Jesus’ safety.
This Herod whom they warn about ruled Galilee, a northern region of Israel where Jesus preached extensively. It is this Herod who had imprisoned John the Baptist for condemning his incestuous marriage. Later Herod had John beheaded at the request of his wife and her daughter. Certainly, Herod could pose a threat; he was no friend of the truth that Jesus preached.
Neither were these Pharisees. They hated Jesus and His claim to be the Christ, the Son of God. They also hated Herod, regarding him as part of an illegitimate Herodian dynasty ruling in Israel. Yet ironically, the Pharisees had already joined forces with the Herodians in a common hatred of Jesus, plotting to kill Him (Mark 3:6; 12:13). These political enemies at least agreed that Jesus was getting too popular, and stealing the hearts of the people away from their coveted leadership.
So here is Jesus making His final, resolute journey to Jerusalem and the cross. Along the way, He is preaching among the people, desiring to bring many to faith and eternal life in His Kingdom. And here come the Pharisees with a seemingly friendly warning to leave Herod’s region for safety. Their apparent design is to get Jesus to leave this area where too many people like Him. By intimidation, they want to prod Him southward into Judea and toward Jerusalem. There Jesus would be surrounded by Pharisees, Herodians, and many others who hated Him. Finally, by their own sly designs they would seek to lead Jesus like a lamb to the slaughter.
But Jesus sets the record straight on whose plans He follows. He gives them this message for Herod: “Go, tell that fox, ‘Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I shall be perfected.’ Nevertheless I must journey today, tomorrow, and the day following; for it cannot be that a prophet should perish outside of Jerusalem” (vs. 32-33).
The Lamb of God does not need anyone to prod Him along by trickery and intimidation. He goes of His own will and in His own time. It is three months until the Jewish Passover and the slaughter of the Lamb. Jesus knows what He must do, as the Lamb of God, whose blood must be shed to deliver His people. Already, He has begun to teach His disciples that He must suffer many things, and be killed, and be raised on the third day (Luke 9:22). Already, He can see He can see His own agonizing death for the sins of the world which He bears on Himself. Isn’t our Savior’s determination amazing? In His love, nothing will stop Him from the way of the cross.
How often, it is different when it comes to our determination. We have vowed to take up our cross and follow Jesus. Yet surrounded by Christ’s enemies, too easily we let ourselves be prodded along by fear and intimidation, keeping silent instead of standing up for His truth. When the path God lead us on gets uncomfortable, too easily we give up trusting Him and turn to our own paths, in the way of sin.
But Jesus kept the oath He swore to His Father even when it hurt (Psalm 15:4): “Yea, Father, yea, most willingly I’ll bear what Thou commandest.” The Lamb of God goes uncomplaining forth, with love’s determination. Yet even this, Jesus was presenting that perfect life of obedience and unswerving faithfulness which the Father now counts to us. Even now, Jesus was going on to Jerusalem and the cross, to pay the penalty for the sins of us all: “And free men from the fear of death, From guilt and condemnation.”
2) He was despised and rejected by men
And He would do it so willingly even though, as Isaiah said: “He was despised and rejected by men” (Isaiah 53:3). And nowhere was this seen more clearly than in Jerusalem.
Ironically Jerusalem, as its name indicates, was the “city of peace.” Yet, so often when God had sent His prophets there to call the people to repentance and peace through faith in the Savior, they had met with persecution and martyrdom. It would be no different for the Savior Himself, who is the Prophet of prophets, and the very Word of God in our flesh (John 1:14).
With heartfelt lament, Jesus cries: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you were not willing!” (vs. 34). How often already Jesus had stood in Jerusalem, as many prophets before, calling with God’s overtures of love and salvation; but so many would not listen. “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem,” He cries in love for the lost.
Here we see, as Scripture teaches, that God loves all the world. He does not want anyone to perish in sin, but that all should repent and be saved (Ezekiel 33:11; 1 Timothy 2:4). He reaches out in love to all with His Gospel of salvation; yet, His grace is not irresistible. God will not force salvation on anyone. He who is Love will die for the beloved, though they despise Him; but Love will not make unwilling slaves of the beloved. Amazingly, the more God offers His grace, the more the warped will of sinners despises and rejects Him. As Jesus cries: “but you were not willing.” Therefore damnation is a path of one’s own will apart from God.
Here Jesus gives a warning: “See! Your house is left to you desolate; and assuredly, I say to you, you shall not see Me until the time comes when you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!'” (vs. 35). Due to the unbelief of many, Jerusalem and the temple would be destroyed by the Romans and left desolate within 40 years. But this is also a warning of eternal destruction and desolation for all who reject God’s call of grace. Yet even here, Jesus speaks the truth in love to His enemies, desiring to gather them to Himself as a hen gathers her chicks under her wing.
Again, how different we are from this picture of love’s determination. When people despise and reject us, when they fail to appreciate all that we do for them, how quick and impatient we are to say: “Fine, see if I care; see if I ever do anything for you again.” How quickly we give up sharing God’s salvation, thinking: “They won’t listen anyway; it won’t do any good.”
Thankfully, our Savior in His determined love did not treat us that way. It was while we still despised and rejected Him, following the will of our sin-hardened hearts, that the Father said: “Go forth, My Son.” And the Lamb of God went uncomplaining forth, to give His life on the cross for you and me, to win our full forgiveness and salvation (Romans 5:6-10).
3) The pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in His hand
Finally the Lamb of God goes uncomplaining forth because He knows, as Isaiah prophesied: “The pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in His hand” (Isaiah 53:10).
Jesus would willingly drink the cup of suffering the Father gave Him (Matthew 26:42). He would let Himself be arrested by enemies, and led like a Lamb to slaughter on the cross. He would even suffer being forsaken by His Father, as the one cursed for all our sin. But after dying for us, He would rise again as He said. Therefore the pleasure of the Lord would prosper in His hand, and His loving determination would be fulfilled. He would bring us as redeemed, restored, and forgiven children of God, to eternal life in heaven (Isaiah 53:11-12).
Now we find fulfillment and promise in Jesus’ words: “Assuredly, I say to you, you shall not see Me until the time comes when you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!'” (35). It is His promise to all who believe that we will see Him again and welcome Him in joy. After His resurrection, Jesus showed Himself alive to His followers, and they greeted Him with joy. Today, Jesus shows Himself alive to us through the eyes of faith He gives us, that we may welcome Him as our Savior. On the Last Day, when He comes again to take us into His heavenly Jerusalem, we will sing with joy: “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!”
Therefore, let us keep “looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2-4). When we feel the burden of the cross, when faced with trials, temptations, and evils that threaten our path, let us look to the Lamb of God. Since He has gone uncomplaining forth for the joy of our salvation, we know our lives are in good hands. Nothing could stop Jesus from finishing the work His Father sent Him to do, giving His life for our eternal life. Now, as the Lamb of God reigns on the throne of heaven with all authority and power, nothing will stop Him in His love and determination to finish the work of faith He has begun in us. He will work out all things in our lives according to His eternal plan of love for us, until He brings us safely home.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be. Amen.