It is now late in Jesus’ ministry and he is on his way to Jerusalem. Hear him as he tells the story.
"Just then some Pharisees came up and warned me to leave because Herod Antipas was laying plans to kill me. I told them, ‘Go and tell that fox that for the time being I intend to continue my work of casting out demons and healing the sick; after that I will go to Jerusalem and complete my mission. In deed, in spite of your plans to harm me, I must continue my journey to Jerusalem because, as you have heard it said, ‘It is impossible for a profit to die outside of Jerusalem.’" (Luke 13:31-33, Jesus, In His Own Words)
The character quality that stands out to me in this incident is courage. The Roman governor was both cruel and resourceful. That he was making plans to kill someone would normally strike fear in the heart of the victim. The various methods used by Rome to do away with their enemies were extremely brutal. But Jesus did not cringe. He simply told the anxious messengers to tell Antipas that he intended to continue his ministry and then go to Jerusalem to carry out his mission. He even chided them with their own saying that Hebrew prophets have to die in Jerusalem.
Right now we live in a time of international terror. We hear of atrocities taking place around the world and we wonder how we might react if called upon to make that decisive choice. Jesus knew he was carrying out a destiny planned for him. It would involve the humility and pain of a public crucifixion yet he continued on the path assigned by the Father.
Does not each believer have a mission to fulfill? I believe so. Could it involve martyrdom? Yes. Will it? Only God knows. The one thing we do know is that, like Jesus, we are to demonstrate the courage that comes from absolute trust in the will of God. Anxiety changes not a thing; instead, it robs us of the joy of the moment. And where does that necessary courage come from? It is certainly in that group of virtues mentioned by Paul in his second letter to Timothy where he tells his young helper that “God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” (1:7) God alone is the source of all courage.