The lesson begins today with Abram (not yet Abraham) at the earliest part of his journey with the Lord. Abram is to lead God’s people on a difficult journey to a new land. He is doing everything he can to remain faithful to God including spending time in conversation with God. God tells Abram, “your reward shall be very great”. This starts a conversation about the fact that Abram and Sarah have yet to conceive a child of their own. But God tells him to go outside and look at the sky and count the stars if he is able and that is how many his descendants would be. I can picture a very old Abram, bones creaking and weary at the end of a long day going outside to look up at a crystal clear sky as the sun begins to set. He probably began to count the stars as they appeared in the dusk but as the number grew surely he must have thought to himself that God has lost his mind. But it doesn’t say that. It says he believed the Lord and offered up a heifer, a goat, a ram, a turtledove and a young pigeon in thanksgiving. This offering became a covenant between God and Abram and this relationship with God is what helped him continue his journey. God promised he would have land that belonged to him and descendants with whom he could pass it down to. The thing to remember is that land and heirs are the foundation for a mission, a journey that Abram and Sarah will take together. This mission ties directly with today’s gospel and Jesus’ mission that leads to the cross.
In the 13th chapter of Luke we follow Jesus on his own journey. He has been going from place to place outside of Jerusalem, teaching and healing. As he continues on his journey, the crowds grow larger because everyone wanted to see the person they had heard so much about. But not everyone was a fan. Herod has continued to seek him out and although a lot of the Pharisees were not good people, some came and warned Jesus that he should leave because Herod wanted to kill him. But just as in the story from Abram, Jesus would not be deterred from his missional journey. And because he was not deterred, the city of Jerusalem ends up turning against him and his journey ends in betrayal and crucifixion.
We are all on our own journey with God. Sometimes the vision of what we are working towards is a clear as the stars in the skies and other times what we are working towards is changed or corrupted by others. Sometimes we can’t even see what it is that God wants us to do or feel that some of our attempts to do God’s will ends in failure. Jesus’ Jerusalem journey may have appeared to end in failure too with his betrayal and crucifixion but that wasn’t the end of the story. It is through His death and resurrection that God continues to fulfill His promise to us.
Our Lenten journey is no journey if we don’t experience the cross, that symbol of what stands between the Lord and us. If we are unwilling to be challenged with change, or fearful that nothing can be different, then we will turn away from the journey Jesus leads us on to the cross. We could hide out in Lent because we know how the story ends, why put ourselves through the struggle. But instead maybe we should ask Jesus what he wants us to do with this holy time. Each of us has our own journey, and it is one that will not only transform us but encourage others as well if we allow the Lord to lead, not just at church on Sunday but wherever it is that God calls us.
1.) Abram heard God’s message and offered up offerings of thanksgiving. It was many years before his promise was fulfilled but he remained true to his mission. Why is it so difficult for us to have this Abram type faith? Why was his conversation with God so easy for Abram to grasp when we struggle everyday trying to hear the still small voice of God?
2.) Why do you think the Pharisees are warning Jesus about Herod’s plot?
3.) Did Jesus make the right choice to stay in Jerusalem?
4.) It is difficult to make choices when we don’t know the outcome or when we fear failure. How can we use the Theology of the Cross to help us in making decisions about how we live our lives and treat our neighbor?