But our citizenship is in heaven, and it is from there that we are expecting a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. He will transform the body of our humiliation that it may be conformed to the body of his glory, by the power that also enables him to make all things subject to himself.–Philippians 3:20-21 Lent 2C
The ashes we receive at the beginning of our Lenten journey speak to us of our destruction, but is that the last word? In some ways, it would seem so. Death has triumphed over life. And yet in that Lenten ash there is a tiny glimpse of what else is to come; something that gives us hope. The ashes are made of death but we wear them in the shape of hope. Those ashes which speak of our mortality are marked upon us in the shape of the cross, the very instrument by which we are freed from death’s seemingly unbreakable hold over us. In our second lesson today we heard the words of Paul: “Jesus will transform the body of our humiliation that it may be conformed to the body of his glory.” The power of the ashes is transformed by the cross. Our humiliation, in other words our brokenness and our humanity so deeply damaged by sin, is transformed by Christ to glory. To life!
In our gospel lesson (Luke 13:31-35) we can see both signs of our brokenness and hints of a future of hope. First on the scene today are those Pharisees. They have come to warn Jesus that Herod is out to kill him and that he should get out of town. How nice of these Pharisees to help Jesus out! What good Samaritans they are! Isn’t it thoughtful of them to warn Jesus that mean ole Herod is preparing to kill him? Hmmmm. I am a bit suspicious of these Pharisees! Since when have the Pharisees been concerned for Jesus’ welfare? Their primary interaction with him has been, and will continue to be for some time, a constant attempt to trip him up with tricky legal puzzles, to question his healing on the Sabbath, and occasionally to accuse him of blasphemy. And, although I wouldn’t put it past Herod to think about doing Jesus some kind of harm, so far in Luke’s gospel his only words about Jesus were about his desire to see him. This may be another plot to trick Jesus, to get him to make a mistake or perhaps to frighten him.
So does Jesus fall for it? Nope. Instead, he remains focused on his work, his purpose. Tell that sly fox, he says, today and tomorrow I am working. Casting out demons and healing the sick. And then, on the third day, my work is complete. Yep, I am on my way to Jerusalem because it is unthinkable that a prophet would be killed, by Herod or anyone else, outside of that city. And then Jesus turns his attention to Jerusalem and he laments for those who live there. “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem!” he says. “How I want to draw you to myself!” He uses such warm and nurturing words. “How often I have yearned to gather your children together around me as a hen gathers her young under her wings! But you wouldn’t have it that way.” And yet, Jesus still heads to Jerusalem; the place he knows he will be rejected. The place he knows he will be killed……