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God’s Word for You

Luke 13:34 the vocative of love

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Thursday, September 13, 2018

34 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem! You that kill the prophets and stone those who are sent to you! How often have I longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!”

Since my son is learning Latin in college right now and studying the vocative case, I will take the time to point out that “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem!” is a Greek vocative, a kind of exclamation in which the speaker calls out to someone, often with the particle “O.” A famous example is Juliet’s “O Romeo, Romeo!” In this case, Jesus uses the vocative (the “O Jerusalem!” phrase) to show his intense emotion for the city he loves, the heart of the land of Israel. This kind of expression often shows a change of emphasis in what someone is saying, from a first-person “I” emphasis (Jesus said, “I must go on…” in verse 33) to a second-person “you” emphasis (“You that kill the prophets…”).

There in Jerusalem was the palace of the king, the descendant of David. There in Jerusalem were the fountains, the streets, the squares, the shops, and especially the homes of the people, the people of God. The walls and houses of the city protected and surrounded the Temple. The design of the Temple reflected the theology of God’s law given through Moses. In Jesus’ time, King Herod the Great (the father of “that fox” Herod from verse 32) had extended the walls north, west and south of the old Temple grounds. To the east, the gate known as Solomon’s porch (Joel 2:17) seems to have been unchanged (perhaps because it was so attractive already). Along the south end of the complex was a long, covered walkway (stoa) lined with pillars. This was Solomon’s Colonnade were Jesus often taught and preached (John 10:23; cp. 1 Kings 7:6). North of this walkway and to the right (east) was the Women’s Court. To the left was the narrow Court of Men, and from there was the entrance into the Priest’s Court and the altar where the sacrifices were made. This was the center of temple, where the blood of the animals was given and shed for the forgiveness of sins at the foot of the stairs leading up to the left (west) into the Holy Place, and beyond it the Holy of Holies. The important place for the nation was the altar, because there the sins of the people were atoned for and covered over. “The law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness” (Hebrews 9:22).

The emphasis for us has changed now that Jesus has come. It’s not the blood at the Temple’s altar that matters, but the blood of Jesus Christ himself on the altar of the cross that made all the difference in the world. That blood was shed for us, out of love for us.

He yearned for his people like a hen hovering over her brood of chicks, but in the end, almost all of that brood ran from Jesus. At this moment my family and I are worrying over our kitten, Cleopatra. Cleo hasn’t been eating well, and she is showing other signs of being quite sickly. She spent the night with the veterinarian, and now she acts like she doesn’t know me, and she runs away. Now, with our cat, this is because she has some infection that’s making her sick. In Jesus’ brood of chicks, it happened because of the infection of sin, an infection that caused many of them to turn away as if they didn’t know him and wanted nothing to do with him.

Jesus wants people to turn to him for forgiveness and rescue. “God our Savior…wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:3). We confess our faith in his promises, that he is “abounding in love to all who call on (him)” (Psalm 86:5), and that specifically through Jesus this love comes to us: “God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood” (Romans 3:25). Trust in Jesus. You and I are his new brood of chicks. Gather under his wings and under his eternal protection and be loved always by your Lord.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim SmithAbout Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. His wife, Kathryn, attended the Chapel from 1987-1990 while studying Secondary Education (Theater and Math) at UW-Madison. Kathryn’s father, John Meyer, was also the first man to serve as a Vicar at Chapel.

To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.

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