Beneath Jesus’ Wings (Luke 13:31-35)

hen & chicks 06

There has been one question in particular that has bothered me about this text during the week: Why wouldn’t baby chicks want to come back to their Mum?

It seems like a natural thing for chicks to want to run towards their mother. In particular, if they were facing threats or danger, then it would make sense that they would look for shelter and protection under her wings. However, when Jesus describes his desire to enfold the people of Jerusalem under his protection like a mother chicken protects her young under her wings, he says that the people he wanted to embrace wouldn’t actually let him (v34). They ran away from him instead.

That doesn’t make sense to me. Why would they run away from their Mum instead of towards her?

People had a number of ideas about why this might be the case in our discussions on this text during the week. Maybe the chicks wanted to be independent, or they weren’t aware of danger, or they just wanted to do their own thing. It is even possible that they didn’t believe that their Mum could keep them safe.

It’s worth spending time thinking why the chicks weren’t willing to find shelter and protection under the wings of their Mum for ourselves. Sometimes the reasons we come up with can reflect why we tend not to come to Jesus when life gets difficult or we are confronted with problems of any sort.

Because another question which has followed me this week with this text is which way are we moving on our lives? It’s easy for us to look at the people of Jerusalem from this side of Jesus’ resurrection and think that they should have known better. However, do we tend to run towards Jesus or away from him, especially when we face dangers, difficulties or suffering in our own lives?

From what I’ve experienced in my life, it seems to me that we tend to see Jesus more as a last resort than our first option when we face difficulties in life. When I listened to people’s thoughts about why the chicks would run away from their Mama Chook instead of towards her, their ideas reflected the common human experience. We want to be independent, self-sufficient people. Often, we aren’t aware of how dangerous particular circumstances can be, either to our physical, emotional or spiritual selves. We live in a culture that tells us to do our own thing and not worry about anyone or anything else. A lot of the time, I wonder if we even believe that Jesus can help us with what’s going on in our lives.

So we run around like baby chicks, stressed out and under pressure, trying to make everything right and cope with life’s challenges and tragedies by ourselves. All the while, however, we have a Mama Chook in Jesus who calls us by name, offering us protection, security and safety under the wings of his grace and love.

This is fundamentally a question of trust. Do we trust that Jesus can provide us with the security, shelter and protection we need when life gets difficult and we face dangers or threats to our wellbeing? It is good to remember that the person who wants to shelter us under his wings is also the Son of the Almighty God. I find the words of Jesus fascinating when he, a human person about 33 years old, talks about wanting to shelter the people of Jerusalem throughout the Old Testament times. We can’t divide Jesus’ humanity from this divinity, but here we hear God speaking through a flesh-and-blood person, using the picture of a chook to show us how he wants to embrace all of us!

This is the man through whom God enters our human existence so he can understand us and what we go through in life. Jesus is the one through whom God experiences rejection, suffering, abandonment and death. Jesus is also the one through whom God defeats sin, death and the power of the devil in his resurrection. In Jesus, we can see God overcoming everything in this world that would threaten us, put our wellbeing in danger, rob us of the life he has given us or harm us in any way. Faith in Jesus doesn’t mean that nothing will touch us and we’ll never have any problems. What it does mean, however, is that when troubles come, we can view them from the perspective of faith: we are under Jesus’ protection and no matter what may happen, he will always keep us safe with him.

When troubles come and when dangers appear in life, do we try to deal with things ourselves and treat Jesus as our last resort? Or do we trust Jesus enough to run to him as our first option? Or better still, do we trust Jesus enough to live under his protection every day by regularly listening to his word of grace and love, and talking to him about what’s going on in our lives regularly through prayer? How might our lives be different if Jesus was our first option rather than our last resort?

We’re all running in one direction or another. Generally, those directions are either towards Jesus or away from him. When the man who suffered, was crucified and is risen again is offering us security, safety and protection under his wings, why wouldn’t we run to Jesus in the faith that he has everything we need?

My hope is that by learning how to listen to Jesus’ voice in the Bible and talking with him in prayer, we will all find what we need under the shelter of his grace, just like those baby chicks can find what they need under the shelter of their Mama’s wings.

Luke 13:31-35 Discussion / Reflection Questions

The message for 17 March at St John’s will be based on Luke 13:31-35. Here are some questions for you to reflect on or discuss in a small group to help you prepare for Sunday’s services…

  • What questions do you have about this text?
  • What do you think Jesus meant by his reply in verses 32 & 33? What do you think he understands as his ‘purpose’?
  • What do you hear Jesus saying with the image of the mother hen in verse 34?
  • Why do you think baby chicks wouldn’t want to find shelter under their mother’s wings? What does this image tell you about the way in which Jesus saw the people of Jerusalem? What might it be saying about people in general?
  • In verse 35, what does Jesus say is the consequence of the people rejecting him? What can we learn from his words?
  • When you think about your life, in which direction are you moving – towards Jesus or away from Jesus? Why is that?
  • If Jesus describes himself as a mother chook, what might he be offering people under his wings? What might he be offering you?
  • Lent is a time of repentance, meaning turning around & changing direction. How could you move closer towards Jesus to find shelter under his wings? What changes might you need to make to do that? What might you gain by doing that?

Please feel free to leave your comments or further questions in the comment section below. God bless your reflection & discussion…