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LUKE XIII. 31-35.
"The same day there came certain of the Pharisees, saying unto him, Get thee out, and depart hence; for Herod will kill thee. 32. And he said unto them, Go ye and tell that fox, Behold, I cast out devils, and I do cures to-day and to-morrow, and the third day I shall be perfected. 33. Nevertheless, I must walk to-day, and to-morrow, and the day following: for it cannot be that a prophet perish out of Jerusalem. 34. O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not! 35. Behold, your house is left unto you desolate and verily I say unto you, Ye shall not see me, until the time come when ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord."
THE latter part of our Saviour's life on earth was filled up, with the utmost activity, in publishing, and confirming by miracles, the gospel of the kingdom. It would seem that every day witnessed several of these exertions. He had already been teaching on the day here referred to, and on the same day, he embraces an opportunity of teaching again.
"The same day there came certain of the Pharisees, saying unto him, Get thee out and depart hence; for Herod will kill thee." This intimation and advice might appear to argue a kind intention on the part of these Pharisees towards Christ, were we not already so fully aware of the inimical disposition of almost all of their sect. In fact, neither their general demeanour towards him, nor the particular circumstances of this case, will allow us to give them credit for this interference. In the clause as in our version, "Herod will kill thee," the word "will," according to common use, would be considered as the auxiliary, putting the verb "to kill," in the future tense: but this is not the real meaning, for, in the original, the verb is not in the future tense, but there is a distinct word* for "will," so that the meaning, as we would now render it, is, "Herod wills" -that is, wishes, desires, purposes" to kill thee." Herod certainly hated Christ on account of his doctrines, and of
the danger to which he erroneously supposed his growing influence subjected his reign. In confirmation of this, we may remark, that, though Herod was afterwards glad when he saw Jesus in Jerusalem—that is, in having his curiosity gratified—yet he, "with his men of war, set him at nought, and mocked him, and arrayed him in a gorgeous robe, and sent him again to Pilate," thus hastening on his condemnation, by his contumelious conduct, and probably by his direct application against him. An early Christian writer says, apparently with truth, that the instigation of Herod was the cause which, together with the clamour of the multitude, prevailed on Pontius Pilate to put Christ to death.* the time referred to in the passage before us, Herod would, no doubt, have been glad to have had Christ cut off, though he may not have formed any particular plan for that purpose. The odium which he had incurred by the murder of John the Baptist was so great, that it is probable Herod and his friends were now more inclined to frighten Jesus away from lower Galilee, which was part of Herod's tetrarchy, than actually to proceed immediately to apprehend and kill him. In this view, the words of the Pharisees are to be considered as words of threatening, rather than of kind warning: nay, they were perhaps even intended to drive Christ into the snare in Judea, where these treacherous advisers might have known that he would be in more immediate danger than in Galilee.
But let us consider our Lord's reply to this advice. "Go ye, and tell that fox." The connexion leads to the opinion that by "that fox" Jesus meant Herod. We are not to consider this as an encouragement for subjects to speak bitterly and contemptuously of their rulers. The Lord said, by Moses, "Thou shalt not revile the gods," or great men, nor curse the ruler of thy people.' When Paul called the high priest a "whited wall," he apologized by saying that he "wist not that it was the Lord's high priest." In this, our Lord, who was more than a prophet, is only employing the legitimate authority of a prophet, for, the prophets were wont faithfully to rebuke wicked rulers, and to denounce the divine displeasure against them. Isaiah said, "Hear the word of the Lord, ye rulers of Sodom, give ear unto the law of our God, ye people of Gomorrah:" and Ezekiel, "Her princes in the midst thereof are like wolves ravening the prey, to shed blood, and to destroy souls, to * Lactantius, Instit., lib. iv. 18.
get dishonest gain:" and Zephaniah, "Her princes within her are roaring lions; her judges are evening wolves; they gnaw not the bones till the morrow.”* The fox is, at once, a peculiarly cunning and mischievous animal, and, in both these respects, was a fit emblem of Herod, in respect of his general character, and of his demeanour in this instance. The Pharisees appear to have given this advice to Christ, with the concurrence, at least, if not at the express desire, of Herod, who evidently lay in wait for a convenient opportunity of wreaking his vengeance on him.
"Go ye, and tell that fox, Behold, I cast out devils, and do cures to-day and to-morrow, and the third day I shall be perfected." This was a defiance of Herod's impotent rage; it was letting him know that Jesus was nothing daunted by his menaces, and would not be deterred from prosecuting the great and blessed work he had undertaken. "I must work the work of him that sent me, while it is day," said he, at another time; "the night cometh when no man can work." He desired them to inform Herod, that he would continue to cast out devils, and work other miracles of healing, in confirmation of his doctrine, for a time, even as long as might be necessary. If, as there is every reason to believe, in the expression being "perfected," he pointed to his death, we cannot understand him as intimating that he was to be crucified on the third day after that on which he spoke, for a considerable period of time elapsed before that all-important event. It may have been, indeed, that in two days' journeying more he would have been out of the territories over which Herod's jurisdiction extended; but that circumstance would not altogether account for what Christ here says. The true solution of the difficulty seems to be this, that he is employing an idiomatic form of speech, according to which, he is to be understood, not as fixing a precise number of days, but as using a certain for an uncertain number, to intimate that he was yet to go on for some short time as he was doing. Any more strict interpretation of this and the following verse, would make these verses contradict each other: for, whereas, in this verse, he says that he was to work miracles to-day and to-morrow, and to be perfected, or die, on the third day; in the next verse, he says that he was to walk, or live, to-day, and tomorrow, and the day following. There are several instances in Scripture, in which that figure of speech is used, by which * Isa. i. 10; Ezek. xxii. 27; Zeph. iii. 3.
a certain is put for an uncertain number; that is, in which (though no event is uncertain to God) it is not intended to limit what is spoken of to the precise number specified. For example,* *He shall deliver thee in six troubles; yea,
in seven there shall no evil touch thee:" "Thus saith the Lord, for three transgressions and for four, I will not turn away the punishment of Damascus;" and the same declaration is repeated seven times, with regard to other seven nations. Peter said, "Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times, but, until seventy times seven;" that is, very often, even as often as he repents. "After two days will he revive us; in the third he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight." This last passage comes nearest to that under consideration. It is probable, indeed, that, in its secondary sense, it is an exact prediction of the resurrection of Christ as the firstfruits, on the third day after his death; but, in its primary sense, it surely points to the revival of penitents; and, in that sense, implies a promise, not that the Lord will always revive them exactly on the third day, but that he will revive them soon, as it were in a few days. So here our Lord intimated that, without regarding Herod, or any of his enemies, he was to proceed with his work, "to-day and to-morrow;" that is, though not for a long period, not even very many days, yet for some days-for a short time longer.
"And the third day," or after that short time, "I shall be perfected." This being "perfected" relates both to Christ's work, and to Christ himself. It relates to his work; and, in reference to it, the word which is here rendered "perfected" is in other places rendered "finished," or, 66 accomplished." Thus, Jesus said, "My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work."—"I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how am I straitened till it be accomplished." The accomplishment of the great work of redemption implied, and indeed, in a great measure, consisted in the Saviour's death; hence, the two ideas are connected, and even spoken of as the same. Thus, in John's description of the crucifixion, “Jesus, knowing that
*Job v. 19; Amos i. 3; Matt. xviii. 21; Hos. vi. 2. And, somewhat in the same way, with reference to past time, the phrase, "yesterday and the third day," signifies some time before, or simply, before. See in Hebrew, Exod. iv. 10; Deut. xix. 4; 1 Sam. xix. 7.
all things were now accomplished," or, on the very point of being accomplished, "that the Scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst."- "And when he had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost." But this expression, being perfected, refers also to Christ himself. His death not only perfected the redemption of his people, but perfected his own character, finished his sufferings, introduced him fully into the exercise of the office, and secured the possession of the glories, of Mediator, according to his own prayer,* "I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do. And now, O Father, glorify me with thine own self." The two truths of Christ's being perfected, or completed in every respect as a Saviour for sinners, and securing a revenue of mediatorial happiness and glory to himself, by his death, are taught in these verses of the Epistle to the Hebrews,†-"It became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the Captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings."-"Though he was a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered: and being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him."-"The word of the oath" maketh him our high priest, who by the offering of himself once, "is consecrated" (the same word is here rendered "perfected") " for evermore."
Our Lord knew that he was, ere long, to be betrayed, condemned, and put to death; "Nevertheless," says he, repeating with an addition, what he had said before, “I must walk to-day, and to-morrow, and the day following "—I must openly prosecute my journey, in teaching and working miracles, for some days, and I shall not die in Herod's territories: "for it cannot be that a prophet perish out of Jerusalem." He did not, in this, assert it to be a thing absolutely impossible, or that had never actually taken place, that a prophet should be put to death elsewhere: for John the Baptist had, not very long before, suffered martyrdom in Galilee. The meaning is, that it was not to be expected; and that both because the sanhedrim, or supreme council, who sat in Jerusalem, formed the tribunal for trying prophets, and also because that city had, in fact, been formerly stained with the blood of so many of God's holy prophets.
* John xvii. 4.
Heb. ii. 10, v. 9, vii. 28. † Οὐκ ἐνδέχεται