This article was originally published by The Mennonite

Prophets are not known for their longevity

Neal Friesen is assistant director of residence life and student activities at Goshen (Ind.) CollegeThis reflection was first published on, where you can read more devotions and subscribe to receive them in your inbox each weekday during Lent.

Scripture: Luke 13:31-35 (NRSV)

Prophets are not known for their longevity.

On April 3, 1968, Martin Luther King Jr. preached to a crowd in Memphis, Tennessee, encouraging them to support the striking sanitation workers. In his reflections on the parable of the merciful Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37), Dr. King mused that the Priest and Levite may have been afraid for their own lives on such a dangerous stretch of road, but the Samaritan regarded the safety of the bloody and beaten traveler to be of utmost importance: “The question is not, ‘If I stop to help this man in need, what will happen to me?’ The question is, ‘If I do not stop to help the sanitation workers, what will happen to them?’”

He continued:

“Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land!

The following day Martin Luther King Jr. was shot and killed.

When a prophet is on point, the earthly powers that be will recognize the truth of the prophet’s message and be threatened by it.

When earthly power is threatened by God’s truth, it fights back with all of its might. Jesus knew this when “he set his face to go to Jerusalem” (9:51), and reiterated his understanding of where his road was headed in the passage for today (13:31-35).

Jerusalem was not an arbitrary destination for Jesus’ traveling ministry. He was headed to the region’s political and religious hub. Jesus refuses to back down from doing the will of God, even when his life is threatened by the same man who beheaded John the Baptist.

Jesus knows what will happen to him when he arrives at his destination. But he presses on. Jesus is not concerned with what will happen to his body when he arrives in Jerusalem; he is focused on what will happen to everyone else if he does not go.

Jesus never stops trying to gather the children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, no matter how many times the children reject the messenger.

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