“Jerusalem, Jerusalem! You kill the prophets, you stone the messengers God has sent you! How many times I wanted to put my arms around all your people, just as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you would not let me!
And so your Temple will be abandoned. I assure you that you will not see me until the time comes when you say, God bless him who comes in the name of the Lord.” Luke 13:34-35 GNT
Jesus uses that glorious picture of the hen gathering in her chicks. This is an Old Testament image. You know that very often from Exodus to the Psalms, God is depicted in the pictures of the Old Testament as sheltering His people under His wings.
He speaks of bearing His people up on eagle’s wings in Exodus 19. And in the Psalms and many places, He talks about sheltering His people under the wings of the most high. It is a picture of His love for His people, His protection of His people against their enemies, and against providential judgment.
Here Jesus is saying, “I have longed to protect you from danger and I have longed to protect you from judgment. Even the judgment of God even like a hen gathers her chicks.”
Imagine a storm is approaching, a storm is brewing and the chicks are frightened, and they are in danger. The hen sensing this danger gathers her chicks under her wings to shelter them and protect them. The Lord Jesus says, “That is precisely what I have wanted to do for you, Jerusalem. That’s precisely what I have wanted to do for you, Israel. I have wanted to protect you; I have wanted to spare you from the judgment of God.”
And then there are those wringing words at the end of verse 34. “You were unwilling.”
Now you know these words are not just for people who lived on earth 2,000 years ago. These words are for us and so immediately we have to ask ourselves today, have we truly responded to God’s gracious overtures of love, or have we, like so many in Jesus’ times, though we have heard the voice of our Savior in the read and preached word of Scripture, have we, too, rejected His overtures of grace?
Jesus makes here an unmistakable claim to His deity, doesn’t He? He says that He is the One who is always seeking to gather and to protect God’s people in all ages. He is the One who is sending you the prophets with the word of grace to draw you into a living and eternal relationship with God.
Jesus is the One who sends the prophet, but it is very possible that many will reject His love, many who even profess to be part of the people of God. But it’s very clear from this passage that those who are lost are lost through their own fault and their own choice. If a person is saved, it is wholly of God. If a person is lost, it is wholly of his own doing.
On judgment day when men and women stand before God and ask Him “How can You condemn me?” He will reply, “You were unwilling, you rejected Me in your life, and now depart from Me, I never knew you."
Jesus is ready, willing and longing to gather sinners under His wings. But not everyone will follow Him. Such is the perversity of our hearts. Such is the warning of this passage.
Then we look in verse 35, we not only see the danger that many who profess the name of God and profess to be the Lord’s people reject His love, but we also see that those who reject Him choose desolation. Look at verse 35. “Behold your house is being left to you desolate.” Those who forego Christ, forsake abundance, and choose desolation.
Jesus in this passage makes it clear that His departure means the loss of God’s presence. When He says your house is being left to you desolate, surely He is speaking of that destruction which would soon become against Israel and against Jerusalem by the Romans.
We have to ask us the question, is our house desolate? Does Christ dwell in our hearts by faith?
Are you being filled up, as Paul says, to all the fullness of God by His indwelling? Or have you rejected Him, are you apathetic about Him, is there something that you love greater than Him, or have you not trusted in Him alone?
Verse 35 He tells us of His future coming on God’s clouds of glory, and He reminds us that everyone will bow their knee to Jesus one way or another.
The people of Jerusalem would not come to Jesus, and God’s judgment came upon them.
What about you and me, will we too stubbornly resist God’s call to repentance and faith?
Will we refuse to be gathered under the safety of Jesus’ wings?