There are times in our Gospels where Jesus doesn't come off as nice, polite. He can seem gruff and rude, even to those who are his closest followers. We have just such an occasion today.
Jesus has set his face to go to Jerusalem. In the second verse to follow our opening verse we hear again his face was set toward Jerusalem. The Samaritans didn't great him or ask him to stay because it was so obvious that his attention was focused on their enemies. The disciples, James and John don't get it saying they will draw down fire from heaven to destroy them all, but Jesus said, in essence, Cut it out you silly men.
Jesus is a man with a mission right now and those with him see it. One says that he will follow him wherever he goes and Jesus basically sighs and using birds and nests foxes and holes, Jesus is exasperated with their lack of understanding. Jesus calls someone to follow him, but the person wants to bury my father, and another says he wants to follow but needs to say goodbye to his family. Jesus says to both of them, you don't understand what the kingdom of God is all about.
The Gospel of Luke, of all the Gospels, paints Jesus in the most human of terms. A number of commentators trace how Jesus' understanding of what he is about to face is developmental in nature. That his understanding of what he was to do grew as his ministry developed. What we have today is the turning point, not when he realized the finality of his ministry, but when he turned to face it square-on and move to the locale where it was to take place. And although his divine nature is clearly evident today, so too is his human side. He is a bit cranky with those who just don't get what he has now fully accepted and is moving toward completion.
What we have on display in today's Gospel reading is the divine and human, the perfect and imperfect. These accounts of a cranky Jesus can give solace to those of us who get cranky on occasion and then regret those snippy moments. At those moments our lesser selves are controlling our better nature. Those lesser selves shouldn't control us very often, but being human, being imperfect, they have in the past and will in the future. Knowing that we have a model of how to be perfect is helpful.
Copyright 2011, The Rev. John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.
Art: A Pollack Inspired Cross, 2008, jfd+