We too have our own personal journeys, goals and targets. Like Jesus, we may end up being rejected and misunderstood by the very people we are reaching out to. Or we may ourselves encounter within our own hearts the same resistance and rebellion to the Lord’s purpose over our lives.
On arriving at his goal, he made two powerful proclamations over the city, which may enable us to better interpret our own realities.
We find the first one in Luke 19: 41-44
“As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace–but now it is hidden from your eyes The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you.”
Jesus wasn’t some distant theoretician on ministry. He was directly, painfully involved in the cosmic drama in which he was playing a lead role. It was painful for him to see the unbelief and rejection of his target people. He shed tears.
So many solutions are offered in our modern world to give people peace. Only a deep; intimate relation with Jesus Christ can bring us true peace. “If only they knew!” we cry and pray. “If only we knew” as well! Our “peace” in Christ is often veiled by unbelief, tragedy or superficial religion.
The Apostle Paul, in 2 Corinthians 3:13-18 spoke about a “veil” which covered the revelation of Christ from the chosen people. We too may sometimes find that our true peace is “hidden” under the same kind of veil. The solution is to turn our eyes afresh to Christ.
“We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face to keep the Israelites from gazing at it while the radiance was fading away. But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away. Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”
Jesus’ words at Jerusalem represent the tragedy of a missed opportunity!
The “kairos” moment had come. The long awaited advent of the Messiah had dawned, and yet the opportunity was scorned and missed! It is so important that every veil of unbelief be torn away from our hearts so that we do not suffer this same tragic fate as missing the “kairos” moments that God sends our way. Pray too, that our target peoples and nations will also come free from the demonic veils and recognize God’s opportunity for grace and transformation.
The parallel passage in Matthew 23:37-39, gives another aspect to this.
“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. For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, `Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’ “
Jesus is longing to gather peoples to himself. Intimacy with the Lord will inevitably lead us to share this same longing to gather the peoples. It may be that after all these thousands of years of Jesus’ longing the time is coming for such longing to be fulfilled. No doubt it is a time to be praying for a “gathering” of Israel to their Messiah, but it is also a time to be praying for a gathering of many nations to the Lord.
Christ uses the beautiful image of a mother hen gathering her chicks. This was an important image in Jewish tradition and reflects the caring, feminine nature within the total personality of God only too often associated with the harder masculine qualities. Gill states the following in his commentary on this passage.
“So the “Shekinah” with the Jews is called, צפרא קדישא, “the holy bird” (m); and that phrase, לחסות תחת כנפי השכינח, “to betake one’s self, or to come to trust under the wings of the Shekinah”, is often used (n) for to become a true follower of the Lord.”
This is seen in Ruth 2:12:
“May the LORD repay you for what you have done. May you be richly rewarded by the LORD, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge.”
Here are some other encouraging verses on being covered.
“He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.” Psalm 91:4
“Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me,
for in you my soul takes refuge.
I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings
until the disaster has passed.” Psalm 57:1
“But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings. And you will go out and leap like calves released from the stall.” Malachi 4:2
What an incredible offer of being gathered to a place of love, healing and security. It is also such a natural reaction (ever seen little chicks hurrying to be gathered under the safety of their mother’s wings?) to be gathered.
Sadly this offer is often refused.
If the first refusal was a veil of unbelief and legalistic religion, this second refusal is based on an unnatural demonic stubbornness – a spirit of rebellion.
“You were not willing.”
How often has the Lord had to say this tragic phrase over our own lives as we struggle to go our own ways and do our own thing instead of coming to him?
Our own way will always lead to a place of empty desolation. Submitting to the loving wings, turning around and being gathered to God’s way will lead to a life of celebration.
May we be able to respond to Jesus’ love by crying out
“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. “
Let us pray that the stubborn rebellion of peoples and nations will be broken and that they too, in their own cultures, accents and gestures, may also submit to be gathered and welcome the coming of Jesus through the gospel.
To end it may be worthwhile to consider the following story from a farmer in America.
He tells a story about the day that the hen house burned down on his grandpa’s place just down the road. Ike arrived just in time to help put out the last of the fire. As he and his grandfather sorted through the wreckage, they came upon one hen lying dead near what had been the door of the hen house. Her top feathers were singed brown by the fire’s heat, her neck limp. Ike bent down to pick up the dead hen. But as he did so, he felt movement. The hen’s four chicks came scurrying out from beneath her burnt body. The chicks survived because they were insulated by the shelter of the hen’s wings, protected and saved even as she died to protect and save them.
“How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings…”
Once again, Jesus Christ calls you and me.
He calls us to the shelter of his protecting wings.
He calls you and me to the safety of his arms stretched out for us on the cross.
He calls us to trust him, no matter what our fears, hurts, or troubles; to trust that his outstretched arms are strong enough, his wings broad enough to keep us safe.
And in the shadow of those wings we are saved.
Let us allow the power of the cross to tear away the veils of unbelief, to bend our wayward rebellious wills, and lead us to the place of security and love.