At that time some Pharisees told Jesus, “Get out of here, and go somewhere else! Herod wants to kill You.”
Jesus said to them, “Tell that fox that I will force demons out of people and heal people today and tomorrow. I will finish My work on the third day. But I must be on My way today, tomorrow, and the next day. It is not possible for a prophet to die outside Jerusalem.
“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you kill the prophets and stone to death those sent to you! How often I wanted to gather your children together the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings! But you were not willing! Your house will be abandoned. I can guarantee that you will not see Me again until you say, ‘Blessed is the One who comes in the Name of the Lord!’” – Luke 13:31-35
A small child, not old enough for school, went into a maze of mirrors at an amusement park. When her father discovered that she had slipped away, he saw her trying to find her way out and beginning to cry in fear. She became increasingly confused by all the paths, until she heard her father call out, “Don’t cry, honey. Put your hands out and reach all around. You will find the door. Just follow my voice.” As he spoke, the little girl became calm and soon found her way out and ran to the security of her father’s outstretched arms.
How many times we call to our children and they do not respond.
God’s voice in the Words of Scripture calls to us in the confusing maze of life. He is waiting for us to reach His outstretched arms. God is calling us through Jesus to Him. We are to listen as God calls us yearning, longing, pleading.
God yearns for us. He has an intense longing for the time when we will be with Him again. He yearns for the time when the relationship between Him and His creation will be perfect as it once was. God longs for the time when all will be right between Him and His creation.
Jesus lamented for Jerusalem in the Gospel reading when He said: “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you kill the prophets and stone to death those sent to you! Jesus was expressing in the Gospel reading that yearning of God. Can you imagine the ache, the hurt in God’s heart as He yearns for what He has made to be in a good relationship again with Him.
Jesus also said: How often I wanted to gather your children together the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings! But you were not willing! Jesus was lamenting that God had tried to bring the fallen creation back to Him, from Noah to Jesus. God had tried in all kinds of ways to make the relationship between Him and His people right.
God tried through Noah before the flood. He tried through Moses and the prophets. God tried through the Judges. God has tried in all kinds of ways to make the relationship between Him and His people right.
God had tried to persuade His people to come back to Him. Through the history of the Old Testament, God worked with the people of Israel trying to win them back. But alas, it was to no avail, as Jesus said “you were not willing!”
So God put into action His plan that He would send His own Son, Jesus, to reconcile – to make it possible for the human race to come back to God.. What human beings would not do for themselves, God did for them. That is the great news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. God knew that humans would not be able to rectify the broken relationship with Him, so God decided to give us the gift of salvation through Jesus. God offers people the free gift that surely we should accept. Such a gift that humans did not have to earn, to work for – only to accept it.
God’s heart longed for His people. He longed for them to trust – to believe in Him. But they would not. So God decided to come among His people, to walk with His people, to tell them of the great love He has for them. Maybe they would listen, maybe they would understand how He longed to have a right relationship with His people. So God became flesh and dwelled among us, hurting with us, teaching us and pleading with us.
God is like the ruler in this story. Long ago there ruled in Persia a wise and good king. He loved his people. He wanted to know how they lived. He wanted to know about their hardships. Often he dressed in the clothes of a working man or a beggar, and went to the homes of the poor. No one whom he visited thought that he was their ruler. One time he visited a very poor man who lived in a cellar. He ate the coarse food the poor man ate. He spoke cheerful, kind words to him. Then he left. Later he visited the poor man again and disclosed his identity by saying, “I am your king.” The king thought the man would surely ask for some gift or favor, but he did not. Instead he said, “You left your palace and your glory to visit me in this dark, dreary place. You ate the coarse food I ate. You brought gladness to my heart. To others you have given your rich gifts. To me you have given yourself.”
In this way Jesus came to us. He came as a lowly man, but brought to us so much. He met our every need.
This is truly a wonderment about God. He did all He that was needed to bring the relationship between Himself and His people into right order. He came to earth. He walked with His people. He talked with His people. He died for His people. He was raised from the dead for His people. He made the free gift of salvation available and then He gives us the choice to take that gift or leave it. If we went through all this for anyone, we would demand that they take the gift. But not God. He places the gift of salvation in our hearts and says, “You may believe in the promises I have made to you, or you may not. That is your choice.
God is telling us that He has done all the work of bringing His creation and Himself back together. He knew He could through Jesus bring us back by punishing Jesus for our sins and making this relationship right again.
When we come to the Lord’s Table, come knowing the yearning, longing, pleading heart of God is present in and through the bread and wine. God yearns for us to accept this gift of salvation. God yearns for this relationship with Him to be right again. Here at the Table we can touch and taste God’s love.
Salvation is present here in the Word of God and in the Sacraments of God. God can take a worthless, sinful life, wash it, cleanse it, put His Holy Spirit within it and make it a blessing. That is salvation. That salvation is available for all to accept.
God’s voice comes to us in the maze of life, calling to us. He calls us to come to Him – to believe in His promises. He calls us to be in a right relationship with Him again, to be His people, to worship and praise Him as our God. He calls us by grace in love to be His.
There is a poem that might help us think more about this.
When you feel unlovable, unworthy, and unclean,
When you think that no one can help you,
Remember, friend, God Can.
When you think that you are unforgivable
For your guilt and your shame,
Remember, friend, God Can.
When you think that all is hidden,
And no one can see within,
Remember, friend, God Can.
And when you have reached the bottom,
And you think that no one can hear,
Remember, dear friend, God Can.
And when you think that no one can love,
The real person deep inside of you,
Remember, friend, God Does. In Jesus’ name.