Jesus was a master of illustrations. His illustrations resonated with His hearers. He knew the community and their experiences. He exploited that to bless them.
As a boy on the farm years ago, we had chickens running loose around the farm buildings. Roosters and hens were prolific and plentiful. Memorable were the occasions when the tiny, newly hatched chicks scurried for cover and protection under the wings of the mother hen.
The mother hens, clucks, as we called them, would cackle loudly and the chicks would scurry to mother who had her wings spread widely to receive the frightened chicks to the safety of mother.
The chicks would totally disappear under her wings. As many as 15 of them would literally disappear from view and from danger. When the coast was clear or deemed safe, she would allow them to range away to feed again.
Jesus imagery was clear. Safety is found under the wings of mother. It always worked. I cannot remember that any chick would choose otherwise.
But, not so in the story Jesus told.
Jesus told His people that He, like a mother hen, would have welcomed their hurrying to Him for safety.
He said, “He would.”
He said, “You would not!”
The possibility that chicks would refuse the safety of their mother is not even imaginable. That would not happen. That could not happen. Safety would not be refused. It would be welcomed.
For chicks to run away and not accept protection of the parent is unimaginable. For that to happen, something would have to have gone terribly wrong. And so it did.
What went wrong? Were they refusing Him or were they refusing their religious leaders? What went wrong in the hearts and minds of the people who, like chicks, should have longed for the protection offered by their God?
What did Jesus do? He wept. “If only you could have known how much you are loved…?”
When people run away from love, something is wrong.
Basic instinctual reactions and responses have been replaced with painful rejections and displacements.
Who rejected who?
Did Jesus reject His people?
His people rejected the prophets He sent.
Faulty thinking resulted from that rejection of God’s truth.
When faulty thinking and ideas develop in the minds of developing children, behaviors become convoluted. Right becomes wrong and wrong becomes right. People respond in dysfunctional ways. Feelings and thinking are replaced with error and are displaced to wrong objects and persons.
When we run away from love we run into danger. When safety is available, we need to accept it and flee to it. When we reject His care, His protection is hidden from our eyes. When we reject, we turn to answers that are not answers. We turn to leaders who are not leaders.
Jesus is still calling. He is still offering to be our protection like a faithful mother hen and welcome us under His wings. We are His. He is our safety and our protection.
And when he was come near,
He beheld the city,
And wept over it,
Saying, If thou hadst known,
Even thou, at least in this thy day,
The things which belong unto thy peace!
But now they are hid from thine eyes.
O Jerusalem, Jerusalem,
Thou that killest the prophets,
And stonest them which are sent unto thee,
How often would I have gathered thy children together,
Even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings,
And ye would not!