Thanks to Beth for providing the notes this week. As usual the passage can be read here.
My husband’s latest craze is to own and keep chickens but we are currently in a debate about whether to rear them from chicks or to buy them as laying hens – or somewhere in between. It’s significantly cheaper to buy them as chicks because it takes so much time and effort to rear them without the hen present. The hen provides warmth, comfort and protection. Here Jesus talks about his desire to gather Jerusalem under the safety of his wings, like a hen gathers her chicks. It’s a beautiful image of God’s love for us.
The passage today opens with the Pharisees’ concern for Jesus’ safety. I’m sure, if you’ve been reading Luke with us, you’re surprised to see any kind of concern for Jesus from the Pharisees and you’d probably be right in thinking that it wasn’t genuine. It is likely that their statement, “Herod wants to kill you” was true however. We can assume that the Pharisees wanted to move Jesus on because he was gathering support and drawing crowds – something that they didn’t want to see.
Jesus seems completely unstartled by this, so much so that you could miss the threat of death from Herod. He is unfazed by this because 1) he knows he will die anyway; this is what he came for (on the third day I will reach my goal v32); 2) he doesn’t fear Herod; he may be powerful but Jesus is the King of Kings and 3) he knows his mission is incomplete. He knows his Father is in control. Jesus is not afraid, calling Herod a fox and talking of his commitment to his cause; he will continue healing people and will press on, despite Herod’s threat.
This is such a good model to live by when facing troubles and trials (I’m sure you’re not surprised to read that Jesus provides a good model – he usually does!) We should aim to respond in this same way. We should know that we can trust our Father, that he is the King of Kings and loves us and that ultimately, we can all be certain of one thing: death.
I remember listening to a missionary, called Brother Andrew (author of ‘The God Smugglers’), speak in Soul Survivor once. He is an absolutely incredible man who is completely sold out for Jesus, going to some of the most dangerous places in the world to preach the gospel. He has had hundreds of death threats for his work but it hasn’t deterred him. I vividly remember him saying, ‘We’re all going to die anyway. I’d rather go out with a bang.” Threats of being blown up or executed didn’t worry him. He was certain of death but more interested in who he could tell about Jesus in the meantime.
Jesus then begins talking of his love for Jerusalem and, now that ‘there is neither Jew not gentile’ (Galatians 3:28) in terms of God’s promises to us, this love is for us too. His distress is so evident in his words, ‘Jerusalem, Jerusalem!’ He longs to protect and comfort the children of Jerusalem, he ‘longs’ for it. Despite the fact that Jerusalem has killed and stoned prophets, he still wishes to gather them, to protect them, to behave like a hen to her chicks but they will not have it. It is their choice, not his. Even so, there is a hope for them in the future (v35).
This choice remains for us too. Eventhough we’ve led lives that are unworthy of Jesus and disobeyed him, he still loves us and wants to rescue and protect us but it is our choice and, just like Jerusalem, if we choose to rebel, there will be judgement. Jerusalem’s time of being protected is coming to an end and they will be left vulnerable to Rome but that’s what rejection of God’s love brings. However, if we recognise who Jesus is and what he’s done for us, we will be saved.
Lord thank you that we can be saved by you and protected by your love. Thank you that you have taken on the punishment and judgement that we deserve. Father, help us to live like Jesus, being sure of our death but certain of our calling.
“I have come to see clearly that life is more than self. It is more than doing what I want, striving for what will benefit me, dreaming of all I can be. Life is all about my relationship with God. There is no higher calling, no loftier dream, and no greater goal than to live, breathe, and be poured out for Jesus Christ.” (Brother Andrew)