Preparing for 2/24
Luke 13:1-9, 31-35 – “The Fox and the Hen”
At that very time there were some present who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. 2He asked them, ‘Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way they were worse sinners than all other Galileans? 3No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish as they did. 4Or those eighteen who were killed when the tower of Siloam fell on them—do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others living in Jerusalem? 5No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish just as they did.’
6 Then he told this parable: ‘A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came looking for fruit on it and found none. 7So he said to the gardener, “See here! For three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree, and still I find none. Cut it down! Why should it be wasting the soil?” 8He replied, “Sir, let it alone for one more year, until I dig round it and put manure on it. 9If it bears fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.” ’
31 At that very hour some Pharisees came and said to him, ‘Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you.’ 32He said to them, ‘Go and tell that fox for me,“Listen, I am casting out demons and performing cures today and tomorrow, and on the third day I finish my work. 33Yet today, tomorrow, and the next day I must be on my way, because it is impossible for a prophet to be killed away from Jerusalem.” 34Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! 35See, your house is left to you. And I tell you, you will not see me until the time comes when- you say, “Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.” ’
- We don’t know the details of Pilate killing the Galileans. This is just another violent tragedy lost to history. There is no reason to doubt that Pilate killed Galileans near the Temple since history confirms that Jesus lived in a brutal age. The crowd might be asking Jesus if he is going to do anything about the unjust murder of his countrymen. There were rumors that Jesus was the Messiah, the coming king. The Messiah was presumed to be a military hero who would drive the wicked and cruel from their positions of power with a holy sword. But Jesus does not choose the way of violence.
- Who would you rather be: a fox or a hen? Why?
- Jesus could have called down an army of angels to wipe his enemies off the face of the earth. Why didn’t he?
- What does Jesus say about violence? Consider Matthew 5:9-12, 21-22, 38-39; Luke 22:35-38, 47-51; John 2:13-22.
- How does Jesus respond to his violent world?
- How do you think Jesus would have behaved if he was physically present in Columbine or Newtown?
Pastor Ryan’s Chicken Story:
While in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area this summer I went deep into the woods with my folding saw to cut some braches for firewood. Suddenly, I was attacked by a wild animal. Don’t worry. It wasn’t a bear or a wolf or even a deer tick (although one of those nasty bloodsuckers did get my wife somewhere this summer). I was attacked by a wild chicken. To be more specific, it was a ruffled grouse. I didn’t know that at the time. To me the grouse looked like a puny but colorful chicken. I had startled the bird and now she wanted to fight me. It didn’t matter that I was so much bigger and holding a ten-inch serrated blade. This ruffled grouse puffed up her breast and stuck out her tail feathers so that I would pay attention only to her. Suddenly I understood why they fight chickens in Mexico. There is nothing cowardly about a chicken.
I was hungry, so I have to admit that I gave serious thought to taking a swipe at the bird. I’ve never had fresh chicken dinner in the wilderness before. Then I heard the peeping. Perhaps a dozen yellow fluff balls emerged from the brambles to climb up a steep embankment. Twelve tiny grouse chicks were making a getaway, and the mama bird was protecting their escape. Slowly she backed away, acting as a rearguard for her babies. She wasn’t fighting to win. The grouse was offering up her life so that her babies might live.
Suddenly Jesus’ parable of the mother hen made complete sense to me. Jesus wanted to tenderly gather up the inhabitants of Jerusalem the way a mother hen gathers her chicks, but the big city “kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it.” The only way that Jesus was going to protect his beloved children was to lay down his life. He stuck out his chest and offered his life up the big, bad authorities with their stubby Roman swords. Jesus served himself up like chicken dinner so that all who believe in him might have life and life eternal. The only way we were ever going to grasp that God truly loves us is if we accept that God himself was willing to die on our behalf like a grouse on a spit.
We are not saved by savage claw or sharp beak but the surrender of Jesus to brutal authorities. Winner, winner, chicken dinner! Jesus overcame the world by turning the other cheek, walking the extra mile, blessing the peacemakers, gathering up people the way a hen gathers her chicks and submitting to the pain and indignity of the cross. There’s nothing chicken about sacrificial love. If we are willing, Jesus will gather us up in his costly love and save us from violence, evil and death.
2. Jesus responded to great evil with sacrificial love. He hosted meals of 4,000 and 5,000 men, so he was certainly capable of building an army. When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the crowd was begging Jesus to save them…through violent revolution. If he had played by the rules of the world Jesus might have been able to overthrow the Roman domination of Israel for a time. Instead, Jesus submitted to the cross. Three days later Jesus overcame sin and death through the resurrection. What does the Christ’s sacrifice teach us about the nature of God?
- What does sacrificial love look like today?
- Can you think of any modern examples of love conquering evil?