3/18/2019 12:05:39 PM
Reflection: A Spiritual Home
Jerusalem is a major character in the gospel according to Luke. In fact, in the two volume work (Luke-Acts), Jerusalem is mentioned 90 times. That's an amazing number considering that the rest of the Christian New Testament only mentioned Jerusalem 50 times. Today's text (Luke 13:31-35) is in the middle of Jesus' journey to the city, a journey that dominates the last half of the gospel. So it makes sense to wonder why Jerusalem mattered so much to Luke. Beyond its significance as the city where Jesus died, why did Luke spend so much energy involving the city in Jesus' wider story? We have no real evidence if Luke ever lived in the city, and I get the sense that, based on the introduction to the gospel itself, that Luke wrote this text for a person who would have viewed Jerusalem as a city that couldn't compete with the more modern (and more Roman) cities in the area. We also know that Jesus wasn't born in the city nor did he grow up there. But his life seemed to circle around the city. At eight days old, he was presented at the Temple. When he was 12, he was caught teaching elders in the Temple. And when he was resurrected, he met his followers in a room in the city. If we look at the entire expanse of scripture, we can see why the city mattered. But, on a personal level, why did the city matter so much to people who didn't live there?
It's possible Jesus knew Jerusalem to be his spiritual home. A spiritual home isn't necessarily the place we live in. Instead a spiritual home is, in the words of James Burns, "a centering force in my life." Jerusalem always weaved in and out of Jesus' story. He not only knew of the city because of its prominent place in scripture but the outline of its Temple was mimicked and copied in the synagogues he preached in. Jerusalem held a special place over his life and, as we heard at Transfiguration, "all of his life was pointing to the Holy City." When Jesus turned toward Jerusalem, he was heading towards the place that shaped his life, regardless of the amount of time he actually spent there.
I imagine we all, to some degree, have our spiritual homes. They could be the homes of grandparents that we spent time in during the holidays or our first apartment once we left home. They are the places that inform how we live and move through our lives. Even if we haven't seen our spiritual home for decades, it still impacts our life and informs the decisions we make. Luke, I think, recognized that Jesus was drawn to Jerusalem in a way that was deeply personal. Jesus was doing more than visiting a holy city; he was going home.