Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Vision (10.17.13): The Lamentation of Jesus

Note:  The devotion below is drawn from last Sunday’sexposition of Luke 13:31-35.

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not!” (Luke 13:34).

In v. 34 Jesus offers a lamentation over the city of Jerusalem.  Matthew records that Jesus uttered a very similar lamentation just after his final triumphal entry into that holy city (Matthew 23:37-39).  There is no need to doubt that this was a lamentation Jesus made more than once during his ministry.

Jesus laments that Jerusalem, the city of David, which should have gladly received God’s messengers, instead has killed and stoned those sent (apostello) to them.

Jesus then uses a most unusual metaphor: “how often,” he says, “would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings….”  It is interesting on at least three levels:

First, it draws an animal analogy from the lesser to the greater.  As a hen would gather her chicks, so Jesus would have gathered the inhabitants of that great city.

Second, it is a rare maternal image for the work of God.

Third, and most striking, it parallels several passages in the Psalms which describes God as taking Israel under his “wings.”  See especially Psalm 91:2, 4:

Psalm 91:2 I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.

4 He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.

Do you see how Jesus is applying what was said of the LORD in this Psalm to himself?  He is taking upon himself the prerogatives of God.

Just as unregenerate Israel of old rejected God, so too the unregenerate of Jesus’ day rejected him.  To know Jesus is to know God; to reject Jesus is to reject God.

Notice the stunning last line of v. 34:  “and ye would not!”  The verb here is thelo, meaning to will or to wish or to want.  Oddly enough this verse (and its parallel in Matthew 23) is often cited by Arminians to refute the doctrines of grace.  “See,” they say, “Jesus said he wanted to save them but they would not (or they exercised their free will in rejecting Jesus).”  This kind of argument completely misunderstands the Calvinistic (Biblical) view of man’s will.  Yes, we agree, man had a free will in Adam, but then Adam fell, and we have now inherited a corrupted will.  As the Puritan primer put it, “In Adam’s fall, we sinned all.”  Martin Luther’s most famous theological work was titled “The Bondage of the Will.”  Man’s will is a slave to sin.  As Paul puts it in Romans 3:11:  “there is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.”  What Jesus is describing here, nonetheless, is the compassion of God toward an unregenerate people who are hardened in their sin and rejection of him.  How often would I have sheltered you but you would not (or, you were not willing)!

Every time there is a natural disaster or fire or such, it seems there are stories of folk who were warned to leave but who refused, often to their peril and even death.  The rescuers are there, but they turn them away.  That is what unregenerate men do to Christ.  And Jesus laments their rejection of him.

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

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