“O 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, but you were not willing” (Matthew 23:37).
Some parents say the first word their sweet child offered to them was “No!”
It might even have been a determined “No!” made with a vigorous shaking of the head. It mattered little if mom used soothing words to encourage the baby to take just one bite of smashed carrots. It made no difference at all if she first tasted it and said, “Yummy!”
The little one did not care if she said it was good for him. The tyke didn’t even understand what she meant by “good.” He did not know if he did not eat, he would not live.
He just knew that he did not want it. He didn’t like the taste. He was not willing to accept it.
His answer was: “No!”
It reminds us of what Jesus had to say about the people to whom he had come to offer Life. Elsewhere, the Bible’s picture of soaring above our troubles “as on eagles’ wings” offers encouragement. Here, Jesus points to a chicken.
“As a hen gathers her chicks under her wings,” Jesus said. It’s a striking picture.
A hen is not as strong as an eagle. There is a reason why a person not willing to take a risk is called “chicken.” But if the hen senses that her chicks are in danger, she calls out the alarm. Her chicks come running. She lifts her wings. The chicks tuck in underneath. She lowers her wings like shields. She becomes brave.
The attacker must go through her to get at her chicks.
In humans, we call that “self-sacrifice.” We consider it a demonstration of great love.
The best example of that is Jesus. Saint John wrote, “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins” (I John 4:10).
Jesus, himself, said, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full“(John 10:10).
And what is the typical, the natural, response to his offer? “No!”
The holy Lord God’s will is that every descendent of Adam and Eve spend eternity safely with him in the new paradise.
Why would anyone not be willing to accept this?
The answer lies deep in the human soul. Ever since becoming infected with sin in Eden, humans see God as the enemy. They are instinctively opposed to him and his ways because they belong to God’s enemy, Satan.
Jesus spelled it out to those rejecting him: “You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44).
Satan told Eve that knowing evil would be something good. He lied.
Satan tells the world that God is not needed, that happiness can be found without him.
Satan announces to the disheartened, “This is all there is. There is no hereafter. There is no judgment. There is no God. There is no hope.”
Jesus says to those that will listen to him: “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will you free” (John 8:32).
The truth is, “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).
Haven’t we heard that before?
Don’t we know that to be true?
Isn’t God our Father? Isn’t Jesus our Savior?
Isn’t that why we should run to him in every time of need?
The answer is, “Yes!”
We pray: Jesus, open your arms to embrace us. Open our hearts to trust you. Draw us to your side. Deliver us from evil. May Your will be done. Amen.
Written by Pastor Paul Ziemer WELS National Civilian Chaplain and Liaison to the Military Provided by WELS Ministry to the Military.