Devotion taken from last Sunday's sermon on Matthew 23:34-39.
“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!” (Matthew 23:37).
Christ’s withering denunciation of the spiritual hypocrisy of the scribes and Pharisees in Matthew 23 ends with his prophetic lament over Jerusalem.
He had earlier spoke of his opponents as “serpents” and a “generation of vipers” (v. 33). Now, he shifts the metaphor and declares, “how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings….”
Christ here compares himself to a mother hen who had longed to gather those sinful inhabitants of Jerusalem under his protective care, shielding them from the wrath of God which they justly deserve.
No one, of course, knew Scripture better than Christ, and he is drawing upon an OT image. It’s there in Psalm 91 which begins:
Psalm 91:1 He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
Psalm 91:4 He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.
Christ appropriating to himself the things of God. Psalm 91 says the one true God gathers his saints under his wings. Then Christ says to the people of Jerusalem, How often would I have gathered you under my wings?
What was their response? “And ye would not!” Some modern translations render it, “and you were not willing.”
Here, then, is a great testimony to the folly of those who resist and reject Christ. He would protect, but they “would not.” May the Lord take away our heart of stone, and give us a heart of flesh, and make us willing.
Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle