Of Foxes and Lions

Today’s reading marks the close of a particular day in the life of Jesus, but more assuredly the end of Herod’s leniency and tolerance towards Jesus’ growing ministry and fame. While Herod determines to be rid of Jesus once and for all, Jesus sets his sights on the purpose for which he came – to seek and save the lost, knowing even that it will cost him his very life. Sometimes self-sacrifice is the only path to success.

Podcast: coming soon

Section 113b | Anticipation of Jesus’ coming Death and His Sorrow over Jerusalem

Luke 13:31-35
31 On that same day,1  some Pharisees2  came, saying to him, “Get out of here, and go away, for Herod3 wants to kill you.” 32 He said to them, “Go and tell that fox,4 ‘Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow,5 and the third day I complete my mission.6 33 Nevertheless I must go on my way7 today and tomorrow and the next day, for it can’t be that a prophet would perish outside of Jerusalem.’ 8   34 “Jerusalem, Jerusalem,9 you who kills the prophets10  and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, like a hen gathers her own brood under her wings, and you refused!11 35 Behold, your house is left to you desolate.12 I tell you, you will not see me until you say, ‘Blessed13 is he who comes in the name of the Lord!’ ”14  

Group Dialogue:

  1. What does Jesus say must be accomplished in verse 33?
  2. What is your reaction to Jesus’ determination and willingness to do whatever it takes?
  3. Over what circumstance or situations have you been in lament?
  4. Consider your circle of friends, family and acquaintances – what feelings do you have about their spiritual, emotional and physical well-being? What actions has that prompted you to take over the last three years?
  5. Are you certain of your calling? What have you had to sacrifice to give yourself fully to that purpose?
  6. What obstacles and threats have hindered you in ministry? Did you overcome? What did you learn in the process?
  7. Talk about God’s mercy and compassion toward us. How does His mercy affect His judgment of people? And our own judgement of people?

Learning Objectives: courage, divine purpose, God’s mercy, sacrifice and servant leadership


  1. That is the same day’s events which Luke recorded in section 113a in which Jesus had teaching about the Kingdom of heaven and salvation while traveling in Perea on his way back to Jerusalem (arriving Sec 128b).
  2. There is no indication here that these Pharisees were friends of Jesus. On the contrary it seems to be yet a stratagem of theirs to persuade Jesus to simply leave their region since there was nothing they could do legally to stop him, nor any teaching or question to confound him.
  3. This was Herod (Antipas) the Tetrarch, who’s jurisdiction reached no further than Galilee. Not to be confused with his father, Herod the Great, who ruled at the time of Jesus’ birth and is notorious for the slaughter the innocent children (Sec 15). Herod Antipas, the son, was the one who ordered the beheading of John the Baptist (Sec 71b), who made another attempt on Jesus life in construct with the Pharisees (Sec 133), and who was partly responsible for the judgement and crucifixion of Jesus (Sec 160).
  4. While the American/English use of this metaphor refers to one who is “clever and crafty” but the Hebrew meaning doesn’t stop there. The Greek word for “fox” is ἀλώπηξ (alōpēx), and the Hebrew word for “fox” is (שׁוּעָל, shū‘āl). It is used in Songs 2:15, and referred to also in Ezekiel 13:4 and Isaiah 3:1-7 which hints at the nuance of moral depravity, vanity and rule. The term was also used in the Hebrew culture to represent the difference between great men (lions) and inferior men (foxes) – e.g. The story of a certain Hebrew scholar, thought at first to be brilliant, was shown by his outward signs to be inept, and so it was said of him, “The lion you mentioned turns out to be a mere fox.” (Babylonian Talmud, Bava Kamma 117a). Yet another Hebraic use of the metaphor is found in the Mishnah: “Be a tail to lions rather than a head to foxes” which  paraphrased, “It is better to be someone of low rank among those who are morally and spiritually your superiors than someone of high rank among scoundrels.”
  5. Better interpreted by other translations, “I’ve no time for him right now. Today and tomorrow I’m busy clearing out the demons and healing the sick” (Msg).
  6. It is not in Herod’s power, nor the Pharisees, or even the Satan’s, to hinder Christ from doing what He came to do, to be the atonement, and perfect sacrifice securing the salvation of humanity.
  7. Doing the work of God, which included: healing, comforting, and preaching the Good News – the means of salvation and the kingdom of heaven.
  8. While John the Baptist was beheaded in (from) Galilee (see Notes in Week 65, Sec 71b); but it was not according to a judicial process (morally impossible), as the supreme “bet din” or “Great Sanhedrin” in Jerusalem weighed such cases (Deut. 17:8–12) and issued judgement only from the Temple in Jerusalem. Had the Nation of Israel been free this is the process that would have taken place at the time of Jesus’ trials, but the due process was adapted because Rome ruled Jerusalem, all of Israel and beyond.
  9. Jesus cried for Jerusalem at least three times (CR Mt 23:37-39, Luke 19:41, Sec 128b; and Sec 137b, see also Rev. Canon W.F. Adeney’s summary of Jesus’ lament over Jerusalem.).
  10. There were many killed including this OT reference  2 Chronicles 24:20-22, Jeremiah 2:30; 20:1-2; 26:20-23; 1 Kings 18:4; 19:10; and also times in the NT Acts 7:54-60 and this modern world (See “Voice of the Martyrs“).
  11. His human longing was also met by human rejection. Time and again God spoke plainly to Jerusalem (incl. Ezekiel 18:23, 32; 33:11) and promised good to all who came to him (Psalm 91:4; Isaiah 55:1-3).
  12. CR. Matthew 23:38, Sec 137b.
  13. CR: Rev 4:8; Ps 118:26; Isa 6:3, also the sanctus.
  14. Indeed Jesus traveled throughout Perea and then made his way to Jerusalem arriving for the Triumphal Entry (Sec 128b) at which time the crowds did exclaim “Blessed…”. Then again, Christ will come again, and all shall see him and be obliged to bow and confess that He is Lord –the Messiah and Lord of All.

By Greg Troxell

Disciple, entrepreneur and catalytic leader. Advocate of the sharing economy. Ministering to youth, new Christians, and equipping the saints. Developing the Emotivational practice. Founder of

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