Motherless Chicks


Author: Laura Christensen Colberg

“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, and you were not willing.”  (Luke 13:34)

Have you ever wondered how the people in Jesus’ day missed realizing who he was?  Why they were not open or willing to hear him and believe his message of hope?

Some might say not much has changed in 2,000 years.  

There is something compelling to me when I read this verse … Jesus’ plea is an emotional one, that of a parent grieving the loss of a child.  Or yearning for closeness, the pain of watching those you love go down a different path, one that will lead to heartache and pain—much of which could be avoided if they turned toward the one who loves them instead.  Jesus uses a maternal image—says he feels like a Mother Hen wanting to protect her chicks.

Does this surprise you?  Is this the same Jesus who just put the Pharisees and experts in the law in their place?  How many sermons have you heard about this cuddly side of Jesus?

There’s something about tiny, fluffy chicks that just makes me want to scoop them up and nuzzle them against my cheek—to feel those soft downy feathers.  They’re pretty helpless creatures, to be sure.  Almost makes you want to start a farm in the back yard.  (Almost.)  The chicks in the picture above were hatched at the Washington State Fair last month, and their home is a display cage to remind the city folk where chicken and eggs begin.  But notice … there’s no mother hen in sight; just a heat lamp to provide some temperature control.  Not quite a match for a cozy, protective mother hen, under whose wings they can hide.  Exposed, they are (as Yoda would say).

Perhaps this is an image of Jerusalem … the Jerusalem of Jesus’ day, but also the hints of it that exist inside many of us, too.  We create for ourselves an artificial sense of security, safety, a world with substitutes … light and warmth … but no real connection.  No mother hen.  No Jesus, despite his invitation to take us under his wing.  Yes, we can meet some basic needs and get by, just as those chicks will not die … there’s food and token warmth and sterile protection.  But to really thrive as we are intended, to know a parent who loves us, who will let us wander, but call us back in, under his wing when danger approaches … that is the choice Jesus invites us to make, even today.

Notice, too, that Jesus’ invitation is not a blind one.  He is under no illusion about Jerusalem.  He knows exactly what they has done—they’re murderers!  They’ve committed the worst of sins, knowingly, against God himself—killing the messengers intended to help them correct course, time after time.  You can’t get any lower than that.  And yet … those are the objects of Jesus’ affection.  Those are the very people he wants to draw close to him.

Be comforted … there is nothing in your past Jesus doesn’t know about.  Nothing that will keep you from his loving arms.  Yes, you may be more sinful that you ever realized … but you are more loved that you can ever imagine.  Jesus knew what suffering lay ahead.  He pressed on toward that end.  For you.  Find your place under his wings.  He’s longing for you.

Posted on October 27, 2018