But you were not willing.
Luke 13:31–35 (ESV)
31 At that very hour some Pharisees came and said to him, “Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you.” 32 And he said to them, “Go and tell that fox, ‘Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I finish my course. 33 Nevertheless, I must go on my way today and tomorrow and the day following, for it cannot be that a prophet should perish away from Jerusalem.’ 34 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! 35 Behold, your house is forsaken. And I tell you, you will not see me until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!’ ”
Have you ever lost anyone you love? If you have, no doubt the question itself hurts a little bit. I have no desire to resurrect tragic memories for anyone. There are many ways in which we can lose a person. A person may be lost in death, or we may lose their love and they may break the marriage. Or we may lose a child who rebels and runs away. We may lose someone to drugs alcohol or to a false religion, or to some other vice.
It is a pastor’s duty, it seems, to be in at the losing. The easy times are when someone dies a Christian death. The hardest times are when someone turns from the Christian faith in impenitence and unbelief.
There comes a time when you know they are going, and it always seems to be at least a little bit of a surprise, and you say to yourself, “Well, this is it, it is over.” The last word is spoken. The last argument is over.
It is this feeling that echoes from Jesus’ words here in our text. 34 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!” This lamentation about hard-heartedness is a proclamation of the law, a proclamation of warning, and the purpose of it is to lead to repentance.
This is the next issue that is ours to consider this Lenten season. Last week it was Temptation. This week it is hard-heartedness – hard-heartedness and the way that Our Savior deals with it. For ever and always,
OUR SAVIOR SEEKS AND GATHERS US
into His kingdom.
- He Proclaims the Word Faithfully
- He Acknowledges the Law’s Curse Realistically
- He Trusts the Power of the Gospel
- He Proclaims the Word Faithfully
The way that our Savior seeks us out is with His word. That is the point of his answer to King Herod. It is my opinion that the Pharisees weren’t really warning Jesus when they told Him Herod wanted to kill Him. They were trying to scare Him off. But that didn’t stop Him. “I will do what I plan to do,” is the essence of His reply. He plans to do what every one of us should do – reach out with the news of (1) Sin and (2) Salvation
Remember, all are lost without this message!. John 3:18 — 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.
Our Savior brings the message because He …. I Tim 2:4 … wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. And what is that message? First, that your sin has alienated you from God! Second that you have been reconciled to God through the redemption of Jesus Christ. He made full satisfaction for your sins on the cross.
He brings the message even though He knows that not all will believe Him, or the promises He makes. “But you were not willing!” is the way He puts it – with lamentation.
There’s that helpless feeling again, as we warn and as we urge repentance to someone who is living in open rebellion against God in adultery or drunkenness or grudge-bearing. Repentance and forgiveness is laid before them. But they are not willing!
2. He Acknowledges the Law’s Curse Realistically
Christ’s lamentation reflects the fact that He acknowledge the curse of the law realistically. If someone dies as an unbeliever, he or she goes to Hell. The Bible speaks of this very clearly: Mat 8:12: But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Mat 25:41 Then shall He say also unto them on the left hand, “Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.! This is a reality of life and a danger to all, because all are under the curse by nature. “That which is born of the flesh is flesh,” Jesus told Nicodemus. Without being given spiritual life, we are all unacceptable in Heaven.
By nature, nobody would believe the gospel. I Cor 1:18 “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness, but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.” By nature it is mere foolishness to us. That is why conversion is always a miracle, a working of God not in accord with nature.
But God always works this miracle through the Gospel, which is the power of God unto salvation. As Paul told the Thessalonians, (II, 2:14) “He called you by our Gospel to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
But when God works through means, we can resist him, so in spite of the Gospel call, some will not believe.
Some, when offered eternal life, will despise the promise. We see them in the community, who don’t care one bit what is going on in our church, even when invited, even when offered eternal life.
We see them in our congregation, who have heard it, have learned it in confirmation class, who have sworn to be faithful to it. But now they don’t even want to hear it, or they won’t hear it unless certain conditions are met..
Are you going to be one of them? I look at the confirmation pictures on the walls in Luther Hall — where are the people now? They didn’t set out to despise the word, but as Jesus teaches in the parable of the sower, there were other things that just got in the way.
And I have expressed to many of them the same yearning of Christ, that they be gathered into the fold of the believers. But they will not do it.
This is a fearful thing! And the REASONS! Sports. My feelings are hurt. Someone told me to go, so I’m not going — Rebellion.
But there is bad news — these are all only one reason. UNBELIEF. Damning Unbelief! Of the impenitent, Paul writes, GAL 5:21 … those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. And Jesus says of those who will not hear God’s words, “You hear them not because you are not of God.
I know that some of you can imagine the fear with which we witness impenitence and rebellion and rejection of the word. Where spiritual death and damnation are concerned, it is like looking at someone who is very ill and realizing, well, they are going.
My father and I used to commiserate about some of the similarities between being a doctor and a pastor. I have seen him cry when he lost a patient. But, if the person was a believer, we agreed, it wasn’t so bad as when I (as a pastor) “lost a patient.”
3. He Trusts the Power of the Gospel (Means of Grace)
But while none of my father’s patients ever returned to life, some of mine have.
I can remember a man in tears because his son had gone away to school, and showed no interest in the word. He never went to church. He got into the drug crowd. “Yes, but God is faithful, I said.” He agreed, but we both new that however faithful God might be, that so many reject Him in unbelief. “You were not willing!”
And yet God was faithful. It was years later, but that man’s friends never stopped warning, never stopped forgiving. And the time came when after a close call with death and the precious gospel proclaimed by someone we never knew, the man returned to the faith.
So there are some who, though lost, are found again. Talk about JOY. REJOICING. HONOR TO GOD. GRATITUDE! There is joy in heaven over one sinner who repents!
We cannot make someone believe. We cannot make someone return to the faith. We cannot coerce or manipulate a person into believing. (In weakness, we have tried that too.) It may seem that all we have is so weak and foolish. All we can do is proclaim Christ and Him crucified! But that is the power of God.
Just as Christ did, all Christians endeavor to seek and to gather the lost. And just as Christ did, we use only one power, the power of the Word of God.
You know the power of the word. You know its power to convict our hearts, to touch our hearts with guilt.
You know the power of the word. You know its power to comfort your heart, to convince you that Jesus is your Savior, and that as your substitute, He has given you life everlasting.
God grant that the lamentations of our Savior may not be for anyone here, but that the precious confidence in life and salvation may dwell with each of us richly!