Who Is Standing in the Way of His Progress?

March 13, 2022; Rev. Kurt A. Lantz
Lent 2 C. Jesus laments over Jerusalem.jpg

Who Is Standing in the Way of His Progress?

 

Rev. Kurt Lantz Lent 2 C Luke 13:31-35

March 13, 2022 Resurrection Lutheran Church St. Catharines, ON

 

 

Dear chicks of the holy hen,

 

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

 

When I was a young boy, we had a family friend who raised chickens and of course I would want to go to the barn and see the baby chicks. And I wanted to hold and cuddle those little, cute, fuzzy birds. But these were not chicks being raised to be pets. They were not used to being picked up and handled, so they would quickly scurry away whenever someone came near. They ran this way and that way and in circles, changing directions because they didn’t want to cuddle with me or anyone else.

 

Jesus cried over Jerusalem because its people were like those chicks. He wanted to shelter them in His arms and protect them from all dangers and save their lives, but they didn’t want Him to. We have all seen children run away when mom or dad wants them to sit still in their lap and even cuddle for a little while during the quieter times of a church service. They want to run away and do their own thing. They don’t see any need to be in the arms of mom or dad.

 

Would we ever do anything like that, running away from Jesus, trying to get away from Him when He wants to hold us in His arms? Well, another method of scurrying away is to disrupt a planned meeting. We have ways of putting a halt to all kinds of things when we don’t want to participate. But at the same time, we don’t want to be blamed as the ones responsible for the cancellation, so sometimes we get other people to stall the project for us, or we will say things should be slowed down because of someone else. We certainly don’t want to be seen as the one grinding things to a halt.

 

Who was trying to slow Jesus down? “At that very hour some Pharisees came and said to Him, ‘Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you.’” (Luke 13:31). Did Herod want to put a stop to Jesus? He had arrested John the Baptist for his preaching. He had not wanted to kill John, yet gave in easily enough to the pressure of his step-daughter. He was somewhat afraid of Jesus, at one time thinking that Jesus might be John the Baptist risen from the dead (Luke 9:7-9pp). Later on, when Pontius Pilate sent Jesus to Herod, Herod simply wanted Jesus to perform some miracle for him (Luke 23:6-12). Was it Herod that was trying to kill Jesus?

 

Or was it the Pharisees, who told Jesus that Herod wanted to kill Him. Was it they who wanted Jesus to stop preaching and working miracles in their area? Were they trying to scare Him into changing His plan, removing the problem from their area by giving Him a bus ticket to the big city? Was it some kind of co-ordinated effort, the Pharisees truly knowing that Herod did want to kill Jesus, and taking advantage of that information to hurry Him on His way? Was it a larger conspiracy, the Pharisees in Galilee following direction from those in Jerusalem and the edicts of the Council, who had already tried to have Jesus killed? Who was trying to stop Jesus: Herod, the Pharisees, the Sanhedrin, Pontius Pilate, all of them?

 

Jesus doesn’t let any of them deter Him from His course. He has things to do and He is going to get them done. He has demons to cast out and cures to perform, and yes, He must leave the area and make His way to Jerusalem, but He won’t be hurried on by any outside force. He will follow the plan of salvation laid down before the foundation of the world. He will follow the heavenly Father’s will and not be hurried or detained by anyone.

 

Yet, what grieves Him most are not the Pharisees, not Herod, not the Sanhedrin Council, but the chicks (those tiny, frail, delicate chicks, surrounded by danger on every side, and not allowing Him to gather them safely beneath His wings). That is us. The people of Jerusalem are the people whom He came to save. They were frail and He came to bring healing, but the more He told them about the full eternal healing He came to bring, the more they would scurry away from it. They were in danger and he came to shelter them, but the more He pointed out the dangers to them, the more they ran away from His sheltering wings.

 

Jeremiah had tried to warn the people of His day to turn to the LORD rather than trust in foreign nations and their gods to save them from threats. They wanted to kill Jeremiah for warning them and telling them what would happen if they continued to scurry away from the LORD (Jeremiah 26:8-15). During Lent we sing the Verse from the prophet Joel, telling us the same thing over and over again, “Return to the LORD your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love” (Joel 2:13).

 

Yes, right now the Lord Jesus is calling out to you frail, delicate chicks threatened by all kinds of dangers. It pains Him that you run away and don’t want to be held in His arms. You don’t see the dangers of your heedless actions. You don’t know where you’re scurrying off to, what dangers lie in your path, what devouring jaws or clenching talons are waiting for you to stray just far enough away from His protective wings.

 

Yet, He will not be deterred. His mission and His message will not be altered. His cry has not changed. “How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not! Behold, your house is forsaken” (Luke 13:34-35). There is no place else for you to go. While He waits with wings outstretched as they were on the cross, you scurry away with no home, no shelter, no safety. He has all of that for you and will continue in His desire that you be gathered in.

 

When once you see His wings outstretched for you, then you will say, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD” (v. 35). Listen for that in today’s Divine Service and you will see His wings outstretched for you, welcoming the sinner under the shelter of His cross, providing you with protection from the prowling enemy and shelter from the storms of the world.

 

Never forget how He responded to the Pharisees, “I must go on My way” (Luke 13:33). He would let nothing stop Him from fulfilling the plan for your salvation. And as for Herod, He said, “Go and tell that fox, ‘Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I finish my course” (v. 32). He does it all fully and completely in His time and to completion. Nothing stopped Him. Not death, not the grave, and the third day He rose from the dead.

 

And to you, scurrying around, afraid that He is going to butcher you for your sins, He says, ““How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not!” He desires to save you, to shelter you, to deliver you from the butcher.

 

He was butchered for you. He went to the cross with wings outstretched. They nailed Him to the boards of the cross and drained His innocent blood. He let Himself be taken instead of you. He did not scurry away, not from Herod, not from the Pharisees, not from the Council in Jerusalem. He did not scurry away from providing healing for the sick and deliverance from those oppressed by demons. He followed the corralled course set out for Him by the heavenly Father, and it took Him right to the butcher’s block where He willingly offered Himself up in order to save us from our sins.

 

Stop scurrying away. “Return to the LORD your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love” (Joel 2:13). He stretched out His arms on the cross for you, and they are still stretched out to gather you under the protection of His righteousness. Shielded from the wrath of God against your sins, shielded from the devil prowling around seeking to devour you, shielded from the dangers of your frail life in this wicked world, you cannot help but cry out as He predicted, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.”

 

The peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.