The New Testament’s Matthew Chapter 23, containing Jesus’ well-known scathing denunciations of the public actions and dead traditions of the hypocritical Jewish religious leaders of his day, seems the most unlikely place to more deeply realize the love of God towards all man, regardless of man’s condition, but there it was, a potent truth delivered in a single scripture, like a nugget of gold encased in a lump of ore.
“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!”
Please reflect on the depth of what is being said here.
Speaking before the inhabitants of Jerusalem, while having unflinchingly exposed a number of specific wrong doings, Jesus addresses them, of all things, as ‘killers’ and ‘persecutors’ of God’s prophets and messengers; and yet, with the same breath, he is able to express to them his deepest intentions and sympathies as he utters:
“how often would I have gathered your children together, even as a hen gathers her chickens under her wings, and you would not!”
Though Jesus is clearly moved to denounce their actions; or lack thereof, as the case may be, yet there is no sense in this passage, or intimation made by Jesus in his words, of a division between him and his hearers; they remain his and he remains theirs. He might reprimand them for their actions; as a faithful friend would a friend, while holding them firm in his acceptance of them as persons. What unfathomable, supernatural love this is.
I can only ask myself how I would measure up to such an example. Do I, would I, exhibit such presence of mind towards those who are clearly in error? Could I, do I, am I, able to in the same breath express perhaps disapproval of action and yet acceptance of person?
By my actions and speech, is my firmest resolve, my overriding passion, my deepest heart, to assist others to Christ? Am I able to successfully communicate that to others? Or am I unwittingly driving others away due to conflicting signals on my part and heart?
This is surely something to think about. In the meantime, I can’t help but ponder over this beautiful passage that portrays such love.
A mini studies article from Through the Bible in 52 Weeks
Copyright © 2014 by John Hislop