Enemies may distract you from following Christ, but so can well meaning friends. To follow Christ means to press on in the strength of your God-given conviction of the high calling the Lord has given you in Christ Jesus. Your calling in Christ is to serve him according to the opportunities he has placed on your heart, to love him, to be a witness for Him, to grow in faith. As long as we are alive on this sinful world, risk will always be a part of our calling and temptation will be a common theme.
The Pharisees who warn Jesus are well meaning friends that in reality are tempting Jesus to abort his mission. Jesus says,“I will keep on…” (Luke 13:32). Press on when temptations come… The Bible says that in every way Jesus was tempted as we are tempted (Heb. 4:15). This is a temptation to Jesus when his friends in high places say, “Get out of here if you want to live…Herod wants to kill you”. What are they saying? “Lay low. Go to an out of the way place. Hide.”
The nature of a temptation is always to get you off track from your goals. The greatest temptations visit those who know their purpose. This is why the greater your conviction to follow the Lord Jesus Christ the greater the temptation in your life. The more serious you get about God, the more serious the devil gets about you. He’ll even use your well meaning friends. The devil will use logic. Doesn’t it sound good for Jesus to want to save his life? The devil will use personal comfort: if your goal is to work hard and get a degree, how good the temptation to rest and put off the hard work. If your purpose is to share the good news of Jesus Christ with the world, and you meet resistance, and you see little evidence of your efforts, how good it sounds to not make waves, to not look like an out of step fool in the eyes of the world. Even well meaning friends may say you don’t really want to go to the ends of the earth do you? you don’t really want to give up that good job? You don’t really want to move away from your family and everything you know?
SIDEBAR. The friendly well meaning Pharisees. Are you surprised some are friends with Jesus? I found an ancient list of types of Pharisees that the Jews of the day compiled. I don’t know if these are true or not, but some of them are funny. Even the common Jews of the day recognized there were good and bad Pharisees. Seven types (from Barclay, Luke):
- The shoulder Pharisees: They wore their good deeds on their shoulder for all men to be able to see.
- The Wait a Little Pharisees: could always find an excuse to wait till tomorrow to do a good deed.
- I like this one: the bruised or bleeding Pharisees: No Jewish Rabbi would be seen talking to a woman in public, but some took it further. They would not even look at a woman on the street. If they saw a woman in the distance they would shut their eyes and keep on walking. Therefore, they would walk into buildings and walls bruising themselves. Thus their bruises and cuts would be worn as badges of honor to show how religious they were.
- The hump-backed Pharisees walked bent over to show how humble they were.
- Ever-Reckoning Pharisees kept a running balance sheet. A profit and loss statement with God.
- The timid Pharisees went around in constant fear of God.
- Only 1/7 was positive: the God loving Pharisees were exemplary examples of faith and love.
Apparently even the average Jew of the day recognized many Pharisees, in spite of their positions, were not great examples of faith. But some were. These Pharisees that come to Jesus are genuine friends, but even well meaning friends can tempt us to not go too far in our Christian faith. Be faithful, but don’t sacrifice too much! Stay comfortable. Following Christ is good but too much risk doesn’t make sense. Do you have friends like that. Are you a friend like that?
“I must keep on,” Jesus says. Surely personal safety was a temptation for Jesus. That’s what the famous temptation story is about earlier in the gospels when the devil comes to Jesus after his fast for 40 days in the wilderness: he was tempted with food, comfort, rest, each designed to take him away from trusting God. God never promised you a comfortable, secure, restful life. He promises his presence in the middle of the sometimes uncomfortable calling he places upon you.
In order to Press on Towards your calling from Christ, you have to know where you are going. The temptation from well meaning friends always make sense. It doesn’t mean they are bad people. Jesus knows he is on his way to Jerusalem. He is on His way to die on the cross. He even knows and trusts God that he will rise from the dead and fulfill the greatest purpose of all, to bring life and salvation to the people of God.
Our greatest purpose is far more limited than that of Christ. But our calling is always to serve him, always to be people of high character, always to love the people around us, always to grow in our own faith. The specifics of our mission of where and how and when of each servant of God is unique, between you and the Lord, but invite him to speak to your heart, challenge him to open doors, pray for the courage to walk through the doors… God’s purpose for you is according to the gifts he gives you, the opportunities before you, your personality, your open doors. But I emphasize: Like Jesus himself, the path God is calling you to walk as a disciple of Christ always ends in death! Death to yourself, death to your own personal comforts and resurrection life in Christ.
Your enemies also tempt you to abort your mission of following Christ. Herod is the enemy. He wants to kill Jesus. If Jesus were to listen to his well meaning friends and go into hiding, he would be doing what Herod ultimately wants: He wants Jesus to go away and quit stirring up the people with God stuff. You resist the temptations of your well meaning friends by knowing the greater purpose of God’s calling. You resist the temptation of your enemies by naming your enemy and naming yourself!
Jesus calls Herod a FOX. Fox’s are sly. Fox’s are smart. In those days, for right or wrong, Fox’s also had a reputation for being worthless to man, a nuisance that only disrupted the herdsman’s work. Jesus show’s no fear of Herod, and he is not about to alter the course of his mission to respond to Herod. He names Herod a Fox.
Here’s a little story that makes a lotta sense. It takes a brave man to call the King a Fox. Latimer, a clergyman at West Minster Abbey when King Henry was a member of the congregation, would often muse outloud from the pulpit, “Latimar, Latimar, Latimar, Be careful what you say, The King of England is here!” Latimar would go on to say, “Latimar, Latimar, Latimar, Be careful what you say, The King of Kings is here.” /// If our fear of man/ fear of our enemies is ever greater than our fear of God, then our ministry is over. Whoever walks in these doors, woe to me if I shrink back from whatever was planned for that day. The King of Kings is in this place, the King of Kings is in this community. Is the King of Kings sitting on the throne of your life?
Name your enemy. Jesus calls Herod a fox. I don’t think he did it to insult him. If he would have wanted to insult Herod he may have called him a flea, or a weakling, or a spineless no good puppet of the Roman Government. I think he called Herod a Fox for the sake of the Pharisees, for the sake of Himself, to give perspective. Herod wanted Jesus dead to force peace, to keep his position. He saw Jesus as a threat. By Jesus calling Herod a Fox he is addressing purpose, method….He’s a Fox. I will not be sidetracked. I will not abandon my mission.
Press on in your high calling of Christ. When enemies try and persuade you to abandon your faith/calling, do not go to battle. See the temptations of your enemies as a distraction. So what if you are insulted, taunted, threatened, I’m not saying it doesn’t hurt, I’m not saying the temptation to hide is not real. You need courage to keep on going. See the enemy for what he is. Keep on going towards Christ.
Jesus names the enemy. Then he gives Himself an incredible name: a hen. You gotta laugh. You know the saying: If you have a chocolate candy bar that you want to keep safe to eat later and you ask Connie D. to keep it for you, that would be like “letting the Fox guard the Henhouse.” Jesus says, “Herod is a Fox, and I am going to fight him, resist him, challenge him as ~~~~~~ MIGHTY CHICKEN.”
What’s Jesus saying? His mission/purpose is to go to Jerusalem. He will not be tempted to change by well meaning friends. He is not going to hide from his enemy. He refuses to turn and fight and resist His enemy. He sees the enemy for what he is, A Fox, and now he gives himself a descriptive role. Luke 13:34-35 is a reminder of not only the ultimate mission, but also a pouring out of his heart his passion for the people of God that he is serving by His death and Resurrection. READ.
“Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord” is a reference to the entry into Jerusalem that is soon coming when Jesus enters the city for the great Passover Celebration, the people praise Him and lay down palm leaves, and a few days later he is crucified on the cross.
Jesus says he is like a hen, a loving hen that protects her chicks. A loving hen that is willing to die for her chicks. Temptations come from all sides, well meaning friends and genuine enemies. Jesus declares he is staying focused, he is not changing his character or his love or his passion. He is not going to meet the death threat of Herod with anger or fear! That is how we are to stay focused on following Jesus Christ, to Press on as servants of God…. It may sound noble to fight your critics with the same slings, to argue back in return, to return threat with threat, it sure is tempting to go into hiding when the enemy threatens, to just take it easy because you worked so hard, but the Lord Jesus Christ shows us that we are to keep pressing on in conviction of the ultimate goal of serving Christ and to stay true to the Godly character of loving those we serve.
Keep on going towards the goal of serving Christ. Know where you are going. Be willing to sacrifice personal comfort. Name your enemy. See yourself as the loving protecting person God has called you to be. You who are struggling even at this moment ~~~~~~ Press on! Amen.