Sunday sermon 24 February – not derailed – as a hen – but you were not willing

Reading:

Luke 13:31-35

Luk 13:31  At that time some Pharisees came to Jesus and said to him, “Leave this place and go somewhere else. Herod wants to kill you.”

Luk 13:32  He replied, “Go tell that fox, ‘I will drive out demons and heal people today and tomorrow, and on the third day I will reach my goal.’

Luk 13:33  In any case, I must keep going today and tomorrow and the next day—for surely no prophet can die outside Jerusalem!

Luk 13:34  “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!

Luk 13:35  Look, your house is left to you desolate. I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.'”

Sermons.

A. “Don’t be derailed”

The first thing that we learn today is about sticking to the plan. Or in other words – don’t let people derail you from your purpose.

I don’t know about these Pharisees and their motives in this interesting story. It only appears in Luke – and I guess we seldom really consider the story.

And Pharisees are often maligned by people. They were in fact like some of our modern fundamentalists. Not the ones who want to kill their opposition – they weren’t extremists.

They were bible-believing people. Just not able to see shades of grey really – but black and white only.  And there were Pharisees who became Christians (Acts 15:5 – believers who still belonged to the party of the Pharisees).

And so we read in Luke 13:31 – At that time some Pharisees came to Jesus and said to him, “Leave this place and go somewhere else. Herod wants to kill you.”

Some say they wanted to move Jesus from Galilee towards Judea to be more under their control (the Pharisees had more influence there). Others say that they were trying to drive Jesus underground. Other scholars suggest that they were genuinely concerned about Jesus’ welfare. On the other hand in Luke 9:9 we read that Herod Antipas wanted to see Jesus, and not kill him at that point.

Had Jesus been a people pleaser he might have referred the matter to a sub-committee. Or said: “thank you brother I will commit this to prayer”.

But instead he is very clear about things. Listen to what he says, without hesitation:

He replied, “Go tell that fox, ‘I will drive out demons and heal people today and tomorrow, and on the third day I will reach my goal.’

In any case, I must keep going today and tomorrow and the next day—for surely no prophet can die outside Jerusalem! (Luke 13:32-33)

This is a “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God” man here. When you think about his preaching from the beginning, Jesus was doing this – driving out demons and healing people.

I’m not sure what to make of these two verses

…today, tomorrow, and the third day I will reach my goal…

“… I must keep going today and tomorrow and the next day.”

It sounds a lot like commitment to his plan – or His Father’s plan. It sounds like he was determined not to be derailed even by a perceived death threat.

What it does mean is that Jesus is focussing on the cross – the third day is a reference one way or the other to the resurrection. And this passage ends with this ominous line:

“…for surely no prophet can die outside Jerusalem!” (verse 33). A better translation is this: “For it cannot be that a prophet perish outside of Jerusalem”. (Modern KJV). In other words – Herod won’t kill me in his part of the world – because my destiny is Calvary.

Jesus was focussed on his task!

Robert Louis Stevenson wrote: “To know what you prefer instead of humbly saying, ‘Amen’ to what the world tells you you ought to prefer, is to have kept your soul alive.”

But the heart of the matter is the heart of Jesus – which reflects the heart of God. Remember John 3:16 – about why Jesus came:

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. (3:16-17)

For God so LOVED the world.

B.  We move to our next mini-sermon entitled:

 “as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings”

At mainly music we sing the song – 5 little ducks. I want you to sit back and enjoy this song. Maybe we should have the ducks with us as the kids do – running off (swimming off!) one at a time and then coming back to the call of the mother duck.

Now listen to the passage again from verse 33. Close your eyes and listen.

In any case, I must keep going today and tomorrow and the next day—for surely no prophet can die outside Jerusalem! “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! Look, your house is left to you desolate. I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.'” (Luke13:33-35)

:..how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!”

  • Reminds me of Psalm 17:8-9 – Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings from the wicked who assail me, from my mortal enemies who surround me.
  • Or Psalm 26:7  “… Both high and low among men find refuge in the shadow of your wings.
  • Then again there is Psalm 57:1b .. .“I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed.
  • And Psalm 63:7 – probably my favourite:  “Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings.”

I think you get the picture.

Now you might have found the duck song trivial. As if we were lessening God in some way. But then chickens are not that far up the ladder of importance. And Jesus was okay with using that simile (which is the comparison with “like” or “as” if you recall from your school days).

So are we re-imagining God here? And can we? Or are we in danger of heresy?

Jesus seemed comfortable to speak of his own feelings in feminine terms.

Now I’m not advocating changing all the pronouns that are masculine to a neutral se (she + he), because I believe that what we have in the revelation of scripture is what it is. You don’t change the text deliberately.

To add to this re-imagining – think of this.  God is also described as a protective mother eagle (Deuteronomy 32:10-11,13), a fierce mother bear (in Hosea 13:8), a mother giving birth (Isaiah 42:14) and breast-feeding her child (Isaiah 49:15).

How lovely these images are. And they contrast nicely with the image of Father God. They are also very strong. Is there anything quite as powerful as the power of a mother’s love?

Maybe it is okay to re-imagine God. We are only imagining – not carving images in rock!

Think about how you perhaps see God in your life. Perhaps there is a picture – a word – a shape or colour you relate well to.

So maybe you can re-imagine God as a best friend. As a strong giant body builder who can cope with all your heavy loads. Or another animal – or a colour or plant – something that works for you. For the ladies –someone who can put all the patches of our lives together in a patchwork of praise.

As you use your imagination – pause and thank God for who or what he is to you today!

Let’s do that now!

And now our final thought:

C.  “But you were not willing”   

This is the last mini-sermon today.

And this is the tragedy and the challenge all at once.

Jesus is speaking of Jerusalem – and sadly unlike the 5 little ducks in our song earlier – they didn’t come back to mum to be taken under her wing.

They were not willing.

Friend – don’t be like that. Don’t resist his call to intimacy. How close are you actually getting? A baby cradled in his arms? A patient allowing a doctor to probe in those awkward places for you own good? Okay that one wasn’t a biblical image – I don’t think so anyway. How about a lover? That picture of God is in the bible. And a groom coming for his bride. At least a friend.

Or just a plain old KFC chicken – safe under his wing. Her wing… Listen to Jesus’ lament:

-          “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!”

And he goes on in other places later:

-          Luke 19:41 As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it…

-          Luke 23:27-29 A large number of people followed him, including women who mourned and wailed for him.

Jesus turned and said to them, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep for yourselves and for your children.

For the time will come when you will say, ‘Blessed are the barren women, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!’

Back in Deuteronomy 12:5 there was this command:

But you shall seek the place that the LORD your God will choose out of all your tribes as his habitation to put his name there.

And Jerusalem was that place! How tragic that it becomes the place described in this passage:

Luke 13:34  “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!

Don’t ever let the church become like that!

It can! May he never say to us: “But you were not willing”

Amen.

About robinpalmer

I am a Presbyterian Pastor living and working in Browns Bay on the North Shore of Auckland in New Zealand. We moved here at the end of March 2011 after spending five years in Wellington the capital city. I am passionate about what I do - about communicating and writing. I also enjoy my counselling work, especially with young people.

Posted on February 23, 2013, in Sunday Morning Sermons and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. This message was timely and most encouraging. While I had deduced the “Don’t get derailed by people or circumstance” and “the compassion and desire for intimacy with us of our Lord”, your third point that he might be showing us how to deal with the ambivalent, apathetic and stubborn individual. He simply allowed them the courtesy of their error and freewill, and just wept over them.

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