Come to Me: Luke 13:31-35
Jesus was undeterred by threats on his life and, as a result, his commitment is our example. Too much of our life is oriented by fear. We fear terrorists, illegal aliens, liberals, conservatives, economic trends, people of other ethnicities; the list continues and the paranoia shapes our world. Return to me, says Jesus, come to me like little chicks congregating under their mother hen’s wings. Come, put your fears at rest and learn of me, learn of peace.
Jesus weeps over those who are oriented toward killing and stoning and creating fear. He laments the fact that people do not want to be known as chickens. Peace has been given a bad name. Peace is ignorance, irresponsibility, naivete, and cowardly in our culture (we can stop saying “post 9-11 culture”). The Pharisees warned Jesus, “Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you” (v 31). Jesus did not change his plans, his life, or his values because someone had targeted him.
Jesus’ love and ministry could not be altered by threats. Come, little chicks, learn of this courage, return to this life-orientation; but they would not. Jesus lamented the fact that fear could change them so deeply, so quickly. Does Jesus still lament the fear-orientation of his children? On the cross Jesus was forsaken by his Father (Mark 15:34). In Jerusalem Jesus was forsaken by his followers. He cried out his lament both times. Does Jesus still weep?
A returning to the Lord by his children during this Lenten season could change a nation, could change a world. Jesus simply calls for a change in his children. “Stop running away from me. Return to me. But they were not willing.” (v 34). An orientation of fear is an orientation away from God. Lent says return. It invites us to come in the name of the Lord. Come back to his teachings. Return to his example, to his courage.
Another word for lament is grieve. We grieve because we cannot return to the way it used to be. Jesus grieves because we will not turn toward the way it can be. “Return to me,” with wings spread, “Return to me,” but they were not willing. Lent echoes the call.
Jesus does not force us to turn. He will allow us to live in the house we are building, a house of fear. (v 35a) We are building a house with barred windows, “keep out” signs, guns locked and loaded, surrounded by high fences. Jesus’ house is a house of prayer where all are welcome. Come home, return to me, live like this, but they were not willing. We can turn. We can return. We can gather with those who are content to be sheltered by his wings, by the span of his love and grace.
This passage of scripture underscores the importance of Lent and a proper orientation toward the cross. Jesus said/says to the disoriented, “You will not see me until the time comes when you say, ‘Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.’ “(v 35-Palm Sunday for us). If we do not see him entering Jerusalem in defiance of fear, we may not see him at all.
Lord, in response to your tears, I come.
A word about the series
The Lenten season has always inspired many people to create everything from poems, art and music to a completely new direction in their lives. This Lenten season Tabernacle will be exploring many of those creations in the hope of inspiring you to compose in a medium that is natural for you. The paintings in the Sanctuary are of the Biblical Stations of the Cross. The artist, Grieg Leach, completed them in 2010. They will help us to visualize the events leading to the crucifixion of Jesus. In addition to the paintings there is a Lenten devotional booklet, Return to Me, which is available in print or online. The Stations of the Cross also inspired these devotions, written by Terry York of Baylor University. Living with these two bodies of artistic expression based on the Biblical Stations of the Cross throughout the season of Lent should help us as we seek to return our lives to God by walking with Jesus though his final days.
Pray, read, think and return to God.