Scripture: Luke 13:31-35
Key verse: (34) “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, . . . how often I wanted to gather your children together, just as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not have it!”
Reflection: When I studied in Israel years ago, we arrived in Tel Aviv at night so our trip by bus to Jerusalem was in the dark. The next day I will never forget the first time I looked out at Jerusalem from a hill above the Old City. The gold cupola of the Dome of the Rock glistened in the sun as it sat in its place on the Temple Mount. This mosque stands on the spot where the Jewish Temple of Jesus’ time once stood. It was easy to imagine Jesus looking out and saying the words that are part of our scripture passage today. It is an awe-inspiring experience to imagine Jesus seeing a similar scene. When I think of the deep love that God has for humanity, it brings tears to my eyes. This is the love that drove Jesus to continue his ministry of healing and hope even after he was warned by the Pharisees that Herod wanted to kill him. Herod was the man who had been responsible for the death of John the Baptist and he was fascinated by Jesus and wanted to see one of his miracles. So, initially Herod wasn’t a threat. It was the religious leaders that wanted to kill Jesus. This warning from them only emboldened him. He gives them a message to take to Herod – a message that I suspect even they were afraid to deliver. After all, why couldn’t they keep their own people under control? Herod wasn’t going to do anything. At least, not yet. Jesus was on a mission of compassion and love that couldn’t be stopped.
The people of Jesus’ day resisted and so do we. What is it in us that resists God’s compassion and love? Jesus looks out over Jerusalem and laments that he can’t draw the children of God together. There is separation and division among them. The religious leaders and the people were divided. There was resistance to the truth. Jesus pointed this out in his reference to all the prophets who came before him and were killed. The words of prophets are hard to hear. They are unvarnished and convicting. Yet, God always offered a way out and a way back. Jesus invited people to return to God by showing them what God’s love looked like. As he gazed out over Jerusalem that day, he knew that like the prophets before him, he would be killed. But, how he longed for the time when all people would exclaim: Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!
Jesus still longs for us to turn toward him. Jesus wants to gather us like a mother hen gathers her brood under the safety of her wings. Jesus wants us to know how much he loves us and cares about us. This doesn’t mean that there won’t ever be any trouble or challenges in life. There will be. But, knowing how much God loves us, we can get through anything because we have God and we have each other. All of us are bound together in the shelter of God’s love.
Prayer: O God, help us to see that we are your children and we belong to you. Break down places of resistance in our hearts that we might receive your unfailing love. When we resist, be patient with us. Help us to encourage one another in the faith as we seek to follow in the ways of Jesus, trusting in his mercy and grace. In his holy name we pray. Amen.
Author: Deborah Conner
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].