Certain places, families or individuals have long histories of chronic dysfunction. Though there is every advantage and opportunity, tragedy and failure seem to always prevail.
The nation of Israel, and specifically the city of Jerusalem was like this. Though they had every advantage as the people whom God had chosen out of all the nations of the earth, they consistently failed to obey God and truth, serving Him alone.
As certain Pharisees come to Jesus to tell him that he had best leave town, reporting that Herod Antipas was determined to kill him, it has been debated whether this was a true situation or merely a ruse to get him to move on. Either is imaginable.
In any event, Jesus tells them that his schedule will not be affected by that “fox.” He will do his divinely-prescribed work today, tomorrow, and on the third day.
There is more than a hint of humor in verse 33 … “for surely no prophet can die outside Jerusalem!
In other words Jesus is saying, “I’m safe here because this is not Jerusalem, and as a prophet I have nothing to fear, since the history of the nation is to kill prophets there!”
But Jesus immediately affirms his special love for the city and the people of the nation, in spite of their rebellion. The warm picture is of a hen with her chicks safely under her wings. This is the way it could be for Israel, but their rejection made them like a desolate house – trading security for danger … life for death … blessing for destruction.
Quoting Ps. 118:26, a passage with clear, Messianic overtones, it was indeed to comprise the words of the crowds upon the occasion of Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday.
The grand picture of this passage is of the readiness of God to forgive and prosper, a position far beyond the readiness of the people to receive, trust and follow. In the bigger view that extends even to our day, the masses of the people who do not trust in Christ continue, not because God is unwilling to forgive them, but because they are unwilling to yield and receive Him.
Luke 13:31 – At that time some Pharisees came to Jesus and said to him, “Leave this place and go somewhere else. Herod wants to kill you.”
32 He replied, “Go tell that fox, ‘I will keep on driving out demons and healing people today and tomorrow, and on the third day I will reach my goal.’ 33 In any case, I must press on today and tomorrow and the next day—for surely no prophet can die outside Jerusalem!
34 “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing. 35 Look, your house is left to you desolate. I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’” [from Psalm 118:26]