The teachings of Messiah, 9:51-19:44
4. Who enters the kingdom? 13:22-16:13
ii] The forsaken citySynopsis
In the face of a warning from the Pharisees that Herod is planning to kill him, Jesus explains that he exercises his messianic ministry under a divine imperative. He has an appointment to attend at Jerusalem and no second rate politician is going to stop him from keeping it. The appointment is, of course, the cross, and faced with its reality Jesus breaks into a lament for a city that is no longer his, a city unfit for God's mercy.
Within the context of answering the question "who gets into the kingdom?", we are told that religious Israel doesn't get in, for she is now like a forsaken city.
i] Context: See 13:22-30. The forsaken city is the second episode in a teaching section which answers the question Who enters the kingdom?, 13:22-16:13. These episodes describe both those who enter the kingdom and those who remain outside. So, who does get into the kingdom? Not those we expect, for the first shall be last and the last first. It is those who humble themselves in repentance who get in.
ii] Structure: This passage, The forsaken city, presents as follows:
Sayings / pronouncements, v32:
"I will keep driving out demons ...... and on the third day I will reach my goal."
"I must press on today .... for surely no prophet can die outside Jerusalem!"
Sayings / lament, v33-34:
"Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets ......"
"look, your house is left to you desolate .........."
Saying - "Look, your house is left to you desolate. I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, 'Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.'" At face value this verse serves as a prophecy outlining the inevitable consequence of Israel's rejection of God's mercy in his messiah, the consequence being judgment, yet interpretations abound. It is confusing to have on one hand the statement "you will never see me again", qualified by an indefinite temporal clause indicating that they will see him again at a future time when they join in the coronation hymn of the Davidic messiah, "blessed is he ...." So, what point is being made?
It is possible, although unlikely, that the Jews, or Pharisees, won't get to see Jesus for awhile until he enters Jerusalem in some months time to the words of the coronation hymn, Psalm 118, so Danker. Yet, it is likely that Jesus' words are more eschatological than temporal; that there will be a future / eschatological "seeing" of Christ by Israel. When it comes to identifying this eschatological event, there is, as one would expect, numerous interpretations.
• Bock, Marshall, Nolland, ... posit an eschatological welcome of Jesus at his second coming by a repentant Israel. Yet, it seems more likely that the welcome is proclaimed at Christ's coming to the Ancient of Days in heaven for his enthronement;
• Plummer suggests that the prophecy concerns "the conversion of the Jews throughout time";
• Ellis opposes the idea that the prophecy has anything to do with Jesus' triumphal entry to Jerusalem (Danker above), but leaves "open the question whether the prophecy anticipates that Jerusalem will 'see' Jesus in a future conversion, or in a recognition of his Lordship, too late, in the final judgment";
• Manson, in his work Sayings, agrees with Ellis' second point, arguing for a "seeing" which is related to the final consummation: "the time will come when you are ready to say to me, 'Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord'; but then it will be too late." This seems the best approach to what is a difficult verse.
Israel's house is now forsaken, she is condemned, God's mercy in Christ is withdrawn from her, and so, all she can do now is watch (in the mind's eye now, or as the damned raised for judgment???) from a distance as the messiah "comes", with his saints, to the Ancient of Days for his heavenly enthronement. In his dying moments, this was Stephen's vision, but for Israel, it's all too late, for she is abandoned to her enemies and inevitably, to her enemies, she will fall. "I have sought to gather you to myself, but you would have none of it. So, you are forsaken people. The next time you see me will be at my enthronement, but as you sing the enthronement hymn, 'God bless him who comes in the name of the Lord', know that you have no part in any of it."
Eschatology: Jesus' words raise the perennial problem of earthly time as it relates to heavenly events. We create this problem when we try to tie events in heaven with created earthly time, as if God is bound by time, bound by his own creation. So for example, with the resurrection of the dead, we end up with the spirits of believers either in heaven now, or awaiting the day of resurrection at the return of Christ, trying valiantly to fit the comings of Jesus to heaven and earth into some time sequence that works for the resurrection of the dead.
The now / not yet reality of the kingdom of God is something we simply can't fit within a time framework, for the kingdom transcends time. The fact is, Christ has already entered the heavenly sanctuary with his saints (resurrected believers), is enthroned beside the Ancient of Days, and now rules in glory and might. At this very moment, we are seated with Christ in the heavenly places, Eph.2:6 - the kingdom is realized. Yet, in the terms of earthly time, both living and deceased believers still await the day of resurrection and our coming with Christ to the Ancient of Days. The thief on the cross, like all of us, awaits that wonderful day, but then, it was that evening when he witnessed Christ's enthronement; yes, even though Jesus would spend a few more weeks with his disciples. From our time perspective, the heavenly domain is not yet - the kingdom is inaugurated.
So for example, with Christ's coronation, v35b, believers will be there when, following the day of resurrection, we come with Christ to the Ancient of Days for his enthronement, but then of course, we were /are there after Christ's ascension and his coming to the Ancient of Days for that very same enthronement. We were there/ are there / will be there, in Christ!
13:31-33 is unique to Luke, but v34-35 parallels Matthew 23:37-39. The common source is usually identified as Q, but oral tradition should not be discounted.
v] Exposition: A simple exposition of this passage may be found in the linked pew-level Sermon Notes.
Text - 13:31
A timely warning - Herod's murderous intentions, v31. i] Setting, v1: The pharisees warn Jesus that Herod Antipas, who ruled Galilee and Transjordan, is uneasy about him. Probably Herod is a bit worried that he has another John the Baptist on his hands.
en auth/ th/ wJra "at that time" - in that hour. Temporal use of the preposition en; linked in time to the proceeding unit; "it was now", Rieu.
legonteV (legw) pres. part. "[came to Jesus] and said" - [came] saying. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the verb "came"; "approached and said to him."
autw/ dat. pro. "to him" - Dative of indirect object.
exelqe (exercomai) aor. imp. "leave" - depart, go out. The aorist expresses punctiliar action, an immediate singular response. "Get out of Herod's territory", presumably Galilee rather than Peraea, over which territories Herod ruled. Is the warning a friendly one, or are the Pharisees trying to scare Jesus off? "Get away from here", Barclay.
poreuou (poreuomai) pres. imp. "go" - go, journey [from here]. The present tense expressing durative action, in this case journeying.
oJti "-" - because. Here expressing cause/reason; introducing a causal clause explaining why Jesus needs to flee, "because Herod is out to kill you", Barclay.
apokteinai (apokteinw) aor. inf. "to kill" - The infinitive, functioning as the direct object of a cognitive verb, may be treated as introducing a dependent statement of perception expressing what Herod wants, but is usually classified as complementary, completing the sense of the verb "wants, wills."
ii] Jesus' imperious response to a threat by a second-rate politician, v32-33. a) Jesus defiantly asserts the priority of his messianic mission, of his "day by day" journey to Jerusalem, and of its "completion", v32. The "third day" means the "final day", the last day in the sequence of days. Jesus may be linking "the third day" with his resurrection, but it is more likely that this "final day" is his reaching Jerusalem and the "goal" of his high priestly consecration through death, resurrection and ascension, Heb.2:10, 5:9. Jesus' mission, in words and signs, stands over and above the intentions of "that fox", a third-rate political hack. Jesus' goal is to follow the way set before him by the Father and thus achieve "his consecration and enthronement into the messianic office", Ellis. Jesus' ministry, his messianic journey to Jerusalem, his exodus, with its inevitable conclusion, is covered by a divine imperative.
autoiV dat. pro. "[he replied]" - [and he said] to them. Dative of indirect object.
poreuqenteV (poreuomai) aor. pas. part. "go" - having gone. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the imperative verb "say/tell"; "go and tell", Moffatt. Obviously these Pharisees are Herod's messengers, so "go back to Herod."
th/ alwpeki (x ectos) dat. "[that] fox" - [to this] fox. Dative of indirect object. An insignificant creature, but cunning and vicious, so prompting three possible insults: i] insignificant; ii] deceiver; iii] destructive. Although in an English tradition the fox represents cunning, in a Semitic tradition it represents an insignificant animal, as compared to say a lion.
ekballw pres. "I will drive out / I will keep driving out" - A durative futuristic present tense, as NIV. The TNIV has emphasized durative aspect. Irrespective of Herod, Jesus intends to continue his ministry, again summarized in messianic terms: exorcisms and healings. Yet, why no mention of Jesus' preaching ministry?
apotelw (apotelew) pres. "[heal] people" - produce, complete, finish [healings]. The emphasis here is "complete healings"; "accomplish works of healing", Cassirer.
shmeron kai aurion "today and tomorrow" - An idiomatic Semitic phrase which can literally mean "two days", but here more likely an indefinite period "day by day", Black.
th/ trith/ "on the third day" - on the third. The general "day by day" ministry of Jesus will progress to a final day at a future undefined, but specific moment. Possibly spacial, the conclusion of Jesus' healing ministry, so Manson, or his death, his resurrection, or even ascension. Christ's death seems the best spacial choice, but the mention of "third" certainly hints at the resurrection. None-the-less, a theological, rather than earthly spacial goal may be intended. Jesus' ministry proceeds, irrespective of the ravings of political tyrants, until his messianic enthronement; "day by day, until that last day when I complete my mission."
teleioumai (teleiow) pres. pas. "I will reach my goal" - I am completed, made perfect, brought to an end. Possibly middle voice; "I bring it to an end." Probably a theological passive identifying God as the agent of Jesus' completion. "I am brought to the end/goal of my work", Fitzmyer. On that final/third day Jesus will "complete" his mission, namely, "his consecration and enthronement into the messianic office", Ellis. "I finish my work", NRSV.
b) Jesus restates v32 underlining two points, v33. First, his journey to Jerusalem is one determined by God, "it is necessary" and he cannot turn aside from it. Second, the journey will inevitably follow its course to suffering and death. Of course, prophets have died outside of Jerusalem, but Jesus ironically makes the point that it is "inappropriate" for a messenger from God, in particular this messenger, to be set upon and murdered outside of Jerusalem. Nolland calls the verse "a Lukan reiteration of v32 in a form that accommodates it to the journey context."
plhn "in any case" - nevertheless, but. Here as a conjunction. Usually a strong adversative, so expressing a contrast with "I am completed" - "but / nevertheless ...." Sometimes continuative, so "moreover / and indeed", Marshall, so developing the thought of v32, namely that Jesus intends pressing on with his ministry to the end. This seems best; "and indeed, I must press on", "because it is unthinkable that a prophet should die anywhere else than in Jerusalem", Barclay.
dei "I must" - it is necessary. Usually of divine necessity.
poreuesqai (poreuomai) pres. inf. "keep going / press on" - to go. The infinitive technically functions as the subject of the of the verb "is necessary"; to keep going today, tomorrow and the next day, is necessary." Presumably, the going is the messianic mission of Jesus = his journey to Jerusalem, in words and signs, with inevitable death as its conclusion.
th/ ecomenh/ (ecw) dat. pres. mid. part. "the next day" - on/at the one having. The participle functions as a substantive, dative of time. A stereotypical phrase of the period meaning "the immediately following day", "the next day", as NIV. Presumably the whole clause restates the similar clause in v32, and thus again describes the mission of Jesus, of setting his face toward Jerusalem and its "completion" there.
oJti "for" - because. Here expressing cause/reason; introducing a causal clause explaining why it is necessary to press on - "because ..."
ouk endecetai (endecomai) pres. "surely" - it is not possible, imaginable, thinkable, right. Possibly reflecting the divine imperative; "it is impossible", Fitzmyer. Possibly a touch of irony here; of course, prophets have died outside Jerusalem, but it would be inappropriate for Jesus, the messiah, someone greater than a prophet, to die outside of Jerusalem.
apolesqai (apollumi) aor. inf. "[can] die" - Many translations, as NIV, assume the verb "is [not] able" such that the infinitive is complementary, but technically it serves as the subject of the verb endecetai, "it is [not] possible"; "to die outside of Jerusalem is not possible."
exw + gen. "outside [Jerusalem]" - Spacial. A very cutting tongue-in-cheek statement by Jesus - an example of NT satire. Did the audience laugh? Probably not the Pharisees.
iii] A lament over Israel's rejection of God's gracious kindness revealed through his messengers, particularly through Christ, v34-35. a) Jesus now utters a lament for Jerusalem, v34. Although Jesus' words are directed toward Jerusalem, his focus is not just on the city and its inhabitants, but the people of Israel as a whole. The people of Israel have rejected their messiah. Jesus speaks as the prophet of the Lord, personalizing God's word to his people; his words are similar to Stephen's in Acts 6. The simple fact is that the people of Israel have continually rejected God's gracious kindness extended toward them through his prophets, and now they reject this kindness in Jesus.
We would assume that the speaker is Jesus, although he my be prophetically uttering a divine word in much the same way as the prophets proclaimed a word from the Lord, albeit with the introduction, "thus says the Lord." Jesus' use of the first person supports this view.
Ierousalhm voc. "O Jerusalem" - Repetition adds force. Jerusalem is the heart of Israel and thus representative of the people of Israel.
hJ apokteinousa (apokteinw) pres. part. "you who kill" - the one killing. The participle functions as a substantive. The present tense expressing the constant murdering and stoning of God's messengers, ie. violently rejecting. Israel is "ever ready to kill and stone", Marshall.
hJ .... liqobolousa (liqobolew) pres. part. "stone" - [the one] .... stoning. The participle functions as a substantive. "Pelt to death by stoning", TH.
touV apestalmenouV (apostellw) perf. pas. part. "those sent" - the ones having been sent. The participle functions as a substantive. The perfect tense referring to the prophets sent in the past to Israel through into the present. Unlikely to refer here to the apostles as the sent ones, although they were indeed sent.
authn pro. 3rd. sing. "you" - her. A direct address to Jerusalem as "her", rather than "you". Semitic style.
posakiV adv. "how often" - As already noted, Jerusalem is representative of Israel as a whole. It seems likely that the expressed desire to gather in Israel is that of the Godhead rather than just Jesus.
episunaxai (episunagw) aor. inf. "to gather" - to gather together. Colloquial 1st. aor. form. The infinitive, functioning as the direct object of the cognitive verb "I have longed / willed", may be classified as forming a dependent statement of perception, hoping / wishing / desiring, expressing what Jesus / God wants for Israel, but is usually classified as complementary, completing the sense of "I wanted." "How often have I yearned to gather", Williams.
sou gen. "your" - of you. The genitive is adjectival, relational.
ta tekna "children" - the children. The children of Jerusalem are her inhabitants = the children of Israel. "Your people", CEV.
oJn tropon "as" - which in manner [a hen]. This relative construction serves as a comparative; "even as, as, like", cf. Ex.2:14, LXX. Culy suggests it is intensive; "in the very same manner."
eJauthV gen. "her [chicks]" - [the chicks] of her. The genitive is adjectival, possessive.
ouk hqelhsate (qelw) aor. "you were not willing" - "And you refused", RJB.
b) Jesus concludes with a prophetic word of doom for the people of Israel, v35. The imagery Jesus uses is of the departure of God's glorious presence from the temple. The final state of a rebellious people of God is the withdrawal of his Spirit from their midst. Jesus would soon enter Jerusalem for the last time and on that day the disciples would affirm the kingship of Christ in the words of Psalm 118:26. These words were sung at the enthronement of David, along with the other kings of the Davidic line and they will be sung again for Jesus as he enters the throne room of the Ancient of Days for his coronation. There is a mystical sense where, not just rebellious Israel, but also rebellious mankind, will witness this moment and proclaim the words, but at the same time weep, for it is all too late; for Israel, "her house is forsaken".
idou "look" - pay attention.
oJ oikoV "[your] house" - Some translators opt for "temple", and indeed, the people of Israel are the Lord's house, Temple. None-the-less, it is more likely that "the people of Jerusalem" is intended = "the people of Israel."
afietai (afihmi) pres. pas. "is left" - [the house of you] is left. The sense is, God abandons the house of Israel, taking away his protection etc., so leaving the people to look after themselves. "Israel is forsaken"; "Now it's too late", Peterson; "God no longer has his home among you", Barclay.
uJmin dat. pro. "to you" - Dative of interest, disadvantage.
erhmoV "desolate" - This varient, accepted by the NIV, is probably an assimilation to Jer.22:5, Metzger.
ou mh idhte (eidon) aor. subj. "you will not see" - you may never see. The subjunctive with the double negatives forms an emphatic negation; "you will never see me again", Williams; "you will not see me at all", Berkeley.
eJwV + subj. "until [you say]" - until [you may say]. The conjunction with the subjunctive forming an indefinite temporal clause. Note the variant "until the time / day when you will say ..."
euloghmenoV (eulogew) perf. pas. part. "Blessed" - having been blessed. The participle is substantival and best taken with "in the name of the Lord"; "blessed in the name of God / blessed of God is he who comes in the name of the Lord". Possibly hortatory, "God bless him who ....", Barclay.
oJ ercomenoV (ercomai) pres. part. "he who comes" - the one coming, the coming one. The participle functions as a substantive. A descriptive of Christ's enthronement.