Commentary Excerpt by Tom Boomershine
Jesus' lament over Jerusalem is set in the context of the description of the Pharisees warning Jesus about Herod wanting to kill him and of Jesus' words about Herod and his own mission. In telling the story, be aware that Jesus is addressing the Pharisees who came to warn him. It's important to notice, in light of the frequent motif in the gospels about various Jewish groups Jesus was fighting with, that the Pharisees here are Jesus' buddies, not his enemies. They have come to warn him that Herod is out to kill him just as Herod Antipas killed John the Baptist, who was Jesus' mentor and the one who baptized him. So Jesus is first of all talking to us as if we were friendly Pharisees.
Then he addresses Jerusalem. His prayerful address grows out of the implicit prophecy that he will be killed in Jerusalem. The prayer of Jesus in its original context was a prayer for Jerusalem's health. It is an expression of grief that Jerusalem rejected his offer of comfort and consolation and protection and his recommendation about the policies that Jerusalem should follow.
In Luke's context, some of the consequences of Jerusalem's decision not to follow Jesus have already happened. The greatest disaster in the entire history of Jerusalem took place within 40 years after Jesus' death. The result of the Jewish War in 66-70 A.D. was that the temple was destroyed and the city was laid waste. The entire temple area was burned. Luke's story is written some 10 to 20 years after that great disaster, so Luke's listeners are hearing Jesus' prophecy in the context of something that they already know has happened. There is, therefore, great poignancy and power in Jesus' words for Luke's listeners.
Jesus' response to the Pharisees is a reiteration of his mission and a prophecy that he willbe killed in Jerusalem, not in Galilee. His instruction to those who warn him is, "Go andtell that fox…" In the ancient world, "fox" was a term used for those who are crafty.Clearly, Herod Antipas was a crafty man, a manipulator of the first order and utterlyunethical. Jesus advises the Pharisees to tell Herod to bug off; I'm going to Jerusalem;that's where a prophet is killed, not in Galilee.
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