Here is, I. A suggestion to Christ of his danger from Herod, now that he was in Galilee, within Herod’s jurisdiction (Luke 13:31): Certain of the Pharisees (for there were those of that sect dispersed all the nation over) came to Christ, pretending friendship and a concern for his safety, and said, Get thee out of this country, and depart hence, for otherwise Herod will kill thee, as he did John. Some think that these Pharisees had no ground at all for this, that Herod had not given out any words to this purport, but that they framed this lie, to drive him out of Galilee, where he had a great and growing interest, and to drive him into Judea, where they knew there were those that really sought his life. But, Christ’s answer being directed to Herod himself, it should seem that the Pharisees had ground for what they said, and that Herod was enraged against Christ, and designed him a mischief, for the honourable testimony he had borne to John Baptist, and to the doctrine of repentance which John preached. Herod was willing to get rid of Christ out of his dominions; and, when he durst not put him to death, he hoped to frighten him away by sending him this threatening message.
II. His defiance of Herod’s rage and the Pharisees’ too; he fears neither the one nor the other: Go you, and tell that fox so, Luke 13:32. In calling him a fox, he gives him his true character; for he was subtle as a fox, noted for his craft, and treachery, and baseness, and preying (as they say of a fox) furthest from his own den. And, though it is a black and ugly character, yet it did not ill become Christ to give it to him, nor was it in him a violation of that law, Thou shalt not speak evil of the ruler of thy people. For Christ was a prophet, and prophets always had a liberty of speech in reproving princes and great men. Nay, Christ was more than a prophet, he was a king, he was King of kings, and the greatest of men were accountable to him, and therefore it became him to call this proud king by his own name; but it is not to be drawn into an example by us. “Go, and tell that fox, yea, and this fox too” (for so it is in the original, te alopeki taute); “that Pharisee, whoever he is, that whispers this in my ear, let him know that I do not fear him, nor regard his menaces. For,” 1. “I know that I must die, and must die shortly; I expect it, and count upon it, the third day,” that is, “very shortly; my hour is at hand.” Note, It will help us very much above the fear of death, and of them that have the power of death, to make death familiar to us, to expect it, think of it, and converse with it, and see it at the door. “If Herod should kill me, he will not surprise me.” 2. “I know that death will be not only no prejudice to me, but that it will be my preferment; and therefore tell him I do not fear him; when I die, I shall be perfected. I shall then have finished the hardest part of my undertaking; I shall have completed my business;” teleioumai—I shall be consecrated. When Christ dies, he is said to have sanctified himself; he consecrated himself to his priestly office with his own blood. 3. “I know that neither he nor any one else can kill me till I have done my work. Go, and tell him that I value not his impotent rage. I will cast out devils, and do cures, to-day and to-morrow,” that is, “now and for some little space of time yet to come, in spite of him and all his threats. I must walk, I must go on in my intended journey, and it is not in his power to hinder me. I must go about, as I do, preaching and healing, to-day, and to-morrow, and the day following.” Note, It is good for us to look upon the time we have before us as but a little, two or three days perhaps may be the utmost, that we may thereby be quickened to do the work of the day in its day. And it is a comfort to us, in reference to the power and malice of our enemies, that they can have no power to take us off as long as God has any work for us to do. The witnesses were not slain till they had finished their testimony. 4. “I know that Herod can do me no harm, not only because my time is not yet come, but because the place appointed for my death is Jerusalem, which is not within his jurisdiction: It cannot be that a prophet perish out of Jerusalem,” that is, “any where but at Jerusalem.” If a true prophet was put to death, he was prosecuted as a false prophet. Now none undertook to try prophets, and to judge concerning them, but the great sanhedrim, which always sat at Jerusalem; it was a cause which the inferior courts did not take cognizance of, and therefore, if a prophet be put to death, it must be at Jerusalem.
III. His lamentation for Jerusalem, and his denunciation of wrath against that city, Luke 13:34, 35. This we had Matt. 23:37-39. Perhaps this was not said now in Galilee, but the evangelist, not designing to bring it in in its proper place, inserts it here, upon occasion of Christ’s mentioning his being put to death at Jerusalem.
Note, 1. The wickedness of persons and places that more eminently than others profess religion and relation to God is in a particular manner provoking and grieving to the Lord Jesus. How pathetically does he speak of the sin and ruin of that holy city! O Jerusalem! Jerusalem! 2. Those that enjoy great plenty of the means of grace, if they are not profited by them, are often prejudiced against them. They that would not hearken to the prophets, nor welcome those whom God had sent to them, killed them, and stoned them. If men’s corruptions are not conquered, they are provoked. 3. Jesus Christ has shown himself willing, freely willing, to receive and entertain poor souls that come to him, and put themselves under his protection: How often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen gathereth her brood under her wings, with such care and tenderness! 4. The reason why sinners are not protected and provided for by the Lord Jesus, as the chickens are by the hen, is because they will not: I would, I often would, and ye would not. Christ’s willingness aggravates sinners’ unwillingness, and leaves their blood upon their own heads. 5. The house that Christ leaves is left desolate. The temple, though richly adorned, though greatly frequented, is yet desolate if Christ has deserted it. He leaves it to them; they had made an idol of it, and let them take it to themselves, and make their best of it, Christ will trouble it no more. 6. Christ justly withdraws from those that drive him from them. They would not be gathered by him, and therefore, saith he, “You shall not see me, you shall not hear me, any more,” as Moses said to Pharaoh, when he forbade him his presence, Exod. 10:28, 29. 7. The judgment of the great day will effectually convince unbelievers that would not now be convinced: “Then you will say, Blessed is he that cometh,” that is, “you will be glad to be among those that say so, and will not see me to be the Messiah till then when it is too late.”