Lectionary Reflection for the Second Sunday in Lent – plus a giveaway

Luke BTCBThis excerpt comes from Luke (BTCB) by David Lyle Jeffrey, commenting on Luke 13:31-35:

What Jesus is saying, essentially, is that his ministry is now drawing rapidly to a close (the phrase “today, tomorrow, and the third day” should be taken figuratively to suggest rapid culmination rather than a literal three-day period) and that, as in the historical pattern for prophets, he will come to the end of his earthly road in Jerusalem.

It is in fact Jerusalem that is now weighing heavily on Jesus’s mind. His lament for Jerusalem is a synecdoche—a lament in which the city stands for all of Israel—which, as in his parables, has killed the prophets and stoned the messengers sent to them rather than repent.

His figure of a hen trying to gather her chicks under her wings to spare them from the ravages of fire will have special poignancy for anyone who has seen after a grassfire the burned carcass of a prairie chicken or pheasant that has sheltered and saved perhaps one or two, though seldom all, of her chicks. There is deep foreboding here, as well as parental sorrow. The image of a desolated house anticipates the house of David ravaged, the house of Jacob a wasteland.

When Jesus adds that “Jerusalem” shall not see him “until the time comes when you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!'” (13:35), it is a way of warning that until the messengers of God are received by his chosen with gracious blessing and hospitality, Jesus himself will not again appear. Those in his immediate audience would have heard an echo of Ps. 118:26: “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! We have blessed you from the house of the Lord.” The familiar words of this psalm were sung in the “Great Hallel,” a recitation of Ps. 113-18 on every feast, in every family (Lightfoot 1979: 3.146).

The latter part, including 118:26, would have been the hymn that the Lord and the apostles sang at the end of the paschal meal on the Thursday before his crucifixion. It was called the “Great Hallel” because the head of the family or leader of the group would sing the whole, with the others singing after him the first line only of each psalm; after every verse they would respond antiphonally, singing “Hallelujah!”

No one in Jesus’s immediate audience could fail to get the deep layering of messianic portent in what Jesus is saying; it may be that later readers of Luke’s account are getting here also a literary foreshadowing of the sudden recognition of the Lord at the occasion of two disciples’ postresurrection hospitality to him, as to a stranger, at his blessing of the bread (Luke 24:13-35). The breaking of bread and blessing, a major theme in Luke, is heading toward its climactic sequence.

©2012 by David Lyle Jeffrey. Published by Brazos Press. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.

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Cross Shattered ChristFor your Lenten reading, we recommend Cross-Shattered Christ: Meditations on the Seven Last Words by Stanley Hauerwas.

Theologian Stanley Hauerwas offers a moving reflection on Jesus’s final words from the cross. This small and powerful volume is theologically poignant and steeped in humility. Hauerwas’s pithy discussion opens our ears to the language of Scripture while opening our hearts to a truer vision of God. Touching in original and surprising ways on subjects such as praying the Psalms and our need to be remembered by Jesus, Hauerwas emphasizes Christ’s humanity as well as the sheer “differentness” of God.

Ideal for personal devotion during Lent and throughout the year, Cross-Shattered Christ offers a transformative reading of Jesus’s words that goes directly to the heart of the gospel.

We are giving away 5 copies of this book.