Herod wanted to kill Jesus. Jesus intended to continue doing the
works of God. And another Prophet was soon to perish in Jerusalem.


Jesus went through the cities and villages, teaching and
journeying toward Jerusalem. Some Pharisees came, saying to
him, "Get out and depart from here, for Herod wants to kill You."
He said to them, "Go, tell that fox, 'Behold, I cast out demons and
perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I shall be
perfected.' Nevertheless I must journey today, tomorrow, and the
day following; for it cannot be that a prophet should perish
outside of Jerusalem.

"O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and
stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather
your children together, as a hen gathers her brood under her
wings, but you were not willing!

"See! Our house is left to you desolate; and assuredly, you shall
not see Me until the time comes when you say, "Blessed is He
who comes in the name of the Lord!'"

                                                        Luke 13:22, 31-35 NKJV, condensed

                                      The Fox and the Hen

Jesus spoke in riddles and cried real tears. The riddles may have been
part of a defense strategy. A delaying tactic that would spread confusion.
What did he say? More importantly, what did he mean by what he said?
It's aggravating to have to figure out the puzzle in order to find and
attack him. It's hard to respond effectively to what you don't understand.

The Pharisees disagreed with Jesus constantly, but weren't about to
stand by idly in silence and allow an outsider to attack one of their own.
So they warned Jesus to run because Herod was out for blood. This was
the same Herod who had killed John the Baptist, so the threat was
authentic. Surprisingly, although very vulnerable, Jesus was not afraid
and shot a dispatch right back to the governor. The Pharisees would not
have understood the reply any better than Herod.

The disciples couldn't even decode the message. Only in hindsight is
it deciphered. Jesus was marching to a different beat and setting his
own agenda. No one would take his life from him. When the time was
right, he would give up his life in Israel's holy city, Jerusalem. For now,
he intended to complete the work his Father gave him to do, and on
the "third day" it would be complete. When Jesus spoke of the third day
it meant a victorious ending, a resurrection.

Besides, Herod was governor of Galilee. For Jesus, Galilee was in the
past. He was out of Herod's jurisdiction now and on his way to Jerusalem.
Jerusalem--where the tears of God are real. There are many wonderful
ways to describe the great city, but Jesus made this association--they
kill the prophets!

The image which Jesus used to describe his thinking at the moment was
the mother hen with her chicks. How she longed to gather the people
of Jerusalem under her sheltering wings. But they would have none of it.
Rejection is a cruel, stinging blow. But what can you do? Love can only
be offered; it can't be forced. It relies on the willing response of the other.
You can open your arms, but you can't make anyone walk into them.

The story of God's faithful love is an ancient one which the prophets
told again and again. It's a love affair that never failed, but was new and
fresh every morning. Yet a love that was ignored, taken for granted,
stepped on, brushed aside, snubbed, disregarded, disbelieved, picked up
on a whim and put down on a whim. This text reveals some strong and
sorrowful emotions.

Jerusalem, why couldn't you see! World, why can't we see! The mother
hen has a vantage point for viewing the dangers awaiting her scattering
brood. The chicks saw only the excitement of independence. The fox
looked innocent enough. They believed a lie and denied the truth. How
she longed to draw her children close, but they slandered that love and
preferred to forage far and wide.

A mother hen with no chicks is desolate; the henhouse devoid of joy.
Jesus warned that her offspring will not catch sight of her again until the
day their blind eyes recognize her watchful love and yield to the safety
and salvation of her wings. He lamented for what Jerusalem might have
been, a jubilant home for God's people and a place where God's glory
could shine brightly.

Herod was not the fox that brought Jesus down, but everyone knows in
a contest between a fox and a hen, the chicken will lose. So why would
Jesus choose a defenseless hen to describe his position in relation to
Jerusalem? Not a strutting rooster, but a hen with a wayward brood!
The muscle of the image ripples with its maternal instinct to protect and
save her young. In human terms, we call it love. Self-giving love at that.
The fox can have the chicks, but only if it kills the hen first. She will shield
her babies with her own body. But the chicks do not cooperate. They
run away from her and court the fox instead!

This is an ancient story, repeated in every generation. What day is it
on your timeline? The same old today, tomorrow, and the day following?
Or today, tomorrow, and the third day, with a new and different ending,
not desolate but happy? When we say, "Blessed be the Lord", the
blessing falls back on us. The choice is ours to make--or break the
loving heart of our Father in heaven.


Use the following questions for small groups, journaling, further
study or reflection.


Icebreaker:  If you were to select an animal to depict your mood right now, 
                       what would it be?


At this point in our studies we are not yet into holy week so we know Jesus
didn't mean "today, tomorrow and the day following" in a literal sense. This is
just one example of Jesus meaning something other than exactly what he said.
            Do you wish Jesus would have spoken clearly and said what he meant?
            Or do you enjoy and benefit from trying to figure out what he meant?
            Is it fair to say Jesus sometimes played games with his words?


Share what you know about chickens and foxes and how those images
relate to this period of Jesus' life.
            Why didn't Jesus run and try to save his life?
            Finish the sentence: The road to Jerusalem was paved with _________.


The faithfulness of God stands in stark contrast to our unfaithfulness.
            How do you explain the constancy of God?
            Why do "the peeps keep trying to escape"?
            How does Jesus try to draw us close to him?
            Share an experience when you tried to wander away from his side?


When Jesus lamented over Jerusalem, he expressed the heartbreak of
his Father in heaven.
            Describe what it feels like to have your love rejected.
                    Or to love someone you are not able to protect?
            Do you believe God suffers the same way when we "leave home"?
            Paint a word picture of desolation as it relates to this text.


It's not uncommon in the Bible to read about God relating to groups or
communities of people more than to individuals. In this case, the city of
Jerusalem rather than specific citizens.
            Does this mean that individuals are judged and held responsible for
                        what the whole community does?
            If that would be true, then what are the implications for you and the
                        groups you are part of, such as hometown, church and
                        denomination, workplace, civic clubs, nation?


This image of finding shelter under God's wings is a favorite in the songs
of David.   See Psalms 17:7-8;   57:1;   61:3-4;   63:7-8.
            King David freely acknowledged his dependence upon God; why are
                        we reluctant to do the same?
            Discuss the negatives and positives of dependence, independence
                        and interdependence as it relates to our physical and spiritual lives.   

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