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A Fox and a Barnyard Fire
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Scripture: Luke 13:31-35

Main Idea: Where/how is Jesus trying to gather us closer to him, and where/how are we scurrying out from under those wings and off to danger?

I. Alt-Introduction
  A. Have you ever felt powerless to save someone you loved?
    1. Maybe a child who was headed down the wrong path?
    2. Maybe a spouse who made a really bad decision?
    3. Maybe a loved one dying of a terminal disease?
  B. Today, as we continue our journey with Jesus to Jerusalem we see Jesus lamenting his inability to get through to the very people he came to redeem.
  C. Our text today has a somewhat confusing cast of characters and mixing of metaphors.
    1. Pharisees
    2. Herod
    3. Jesus
    4. Jerusalem
    5. Fox
    6. Hen/chicks
  D. We’re not going to solve all the problems today.
  E. Rather, we will choose an angle of approach and run with it.
    1. Like choosing one path up a mountain and walking on that path to the top.
    2. All the while you know there are other ways to scale this mountain, each one legitimate and uniquely beautiful.
  Luke 13:31-35
II. Quick Context
  A. But before we embark on our chosen path, let's remember which mountain we’re climbing.
    1. Anyway, Luke won’t let us forget.
  B. Jesus is headed to Jerusalem.
    1. And by now we’re getting the idea that it won’t be pretty.
    2. Jesus has predicted his suffering at the hands of religious and political authorities.
  C. I mentioned last week that the season of Lent – this being the second Sabbath in Lent – is a season of journeying, with Jesus, to the cross.
    1. That cross awaits him in Jerusalem
    2. There can be no Easter without Good Friday
    3. No resurrection without death
    4. No empty tomb without the cross
  D. So, during this important season of Lent, we turn our face, with Jesus, toward Jerusalem.
  E. And I hope this is not just an academic exercise, or an abstract religious exercise.
  F. In following Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem, this season affords us the opportunity to face our own Jerusalem – to take up our cross.
III. Jesus as Mother...Hen
  A. This is one of my favorite images of Jesus in all the Scripture.
    1. It is a picture of Jesus as mother.
      a. A mother hen
    2. Many intense debates have raged over the gender of God.
  B. Now, of course, God has no gender
  C. God is definitely not encumbered by the limited notions of gender that we have.
  D. Certainly we cannot put onto him the social issues around gender that we have struggled with for millennia.
  E. But it is true that the Bible is written with a predominant metaphor of God as Father.
    1. I’ll leave you to imagine why that might be.
    2. Here’s a hint: think about who the human authors of the Bible were and what kind of society they lived in.
  F. Anyway, there is this remarkable metaphor on Jesus own lips, in which he likens himself to a mother hen.
  G. Not an angry, kicking rooster, mind you.
  H. Not a cock about to enter a cock fight!
  I. But a hen.
  J. With nothing but maternal instincts for her little chicks.
  K. It’s these maternal instincts we want to look at today.
    1. Jesus' words about himself as a mother hen come in the form of a lament, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem…”
    2. It is a lament over Jerusalem – the center of Israel’s life – for the unwillingness of her children to come under the protection of Jesus – the mother hen.
    3. Like other prophets before, Jesus will be killed as a seditious criminal in Jerusalem.
    4. Rather than heed the prophet’s warnings, Jerusalem has a knack for killing the prophets – the very ones come to save her from destruction.
IV. Threatened by Herod
  A. What we learn, on this particular day, is that Jesus is in danger
    1. Specifically, he is being threatened by Herod
    2. And help comes from the Pharisees
    3. Jesus has had many unpleasant encounters with the Pharisees which are recorded in Scripture.
    4. But it would be a mistake to assume they are all just evil and wicked guys.
    5. Many are actually the “middle of the road” types
      a. Keep in mind there was Nicodemus, Joseph of Aramathea (who gave Jesus his tomb) and Gamaliel in the book of Acts.
  B. Jesus is not intimidated by Herod
    1. We’re not going to get into all the things Jesus said in response to Herod.
    2. But the imagery is interesting – Jesus calls him a fox.
    3. We’ll come back to that.
V. O Hollywood, Hollywood...
  A. What does all this mean for us today?
  B. Let’s try an exercise…
  C. Replace Jerusalem with Hollywood and read the last few verses.
    1. Even this might be a little deceiving
    2. Let me ask you a question
    3. When we read those verses, just now, substituting Hollywood for Jerusalem, who were you thinking about when you said “Hollywood?”
    4. Who is Hollywood, in this sentence?
      a. People out there?
  D. Remember who Jerusalem was?
    1. God’s people.
    2. Who is this addressed to?
      a. God’s special people he had come to redeem.
    3. In so many ways, that is all of Hollywood.
      a. The whole city of Los Angeles, every person on the earth, are God’s special, chosen people, whom he has longed to shelter under this wings.
    4. But this admonition is first and foremost for who?
      a. For ME!
    5. Any read of this text that places the focus on someone else, as the first order of business, makes a serious mistake, and leads us 180 degrees in the wrong direction.
    6. This text may be for all of Hollywood, but it is first and foremost for Hollywood Seventh-day Adventist Church.
  E. Why do I say this?
    1. First, for the simple reason that in the original context, Jesus was addressing his people – his fellow Israelites.
    2. Secondly, it’s just too convenient to aim the admonitions of the Bible at someone else and use them as ammunition.
    3. Especially when we think of Hollywood.
    4. Hollywood means so many things to so many people
    5. And when we depict Hollywood as a bunch of little chicks scurrying around, not knowing what makes for their peace – not knowing that the mother hen is waiting for them to come under her wings for protection…
      a. – of course it’s true, but it just too easy.
    6. Why of course this text applies, not primarily to us, but the lost souls of this evil and wicked town of Hollywood.
  F. But Jesus is concerned about us – those who think we’re so safe!
    1. His question is to us
    2. Why don’t you, he asks, come under the wings of my grace?
    3. Why don’t you find shelter in my provision?
  G. And once we have taken this question seriously – and pondered our relationship to the mother hen as a chick that loves to scurry around.
  H. Once we have seriously taken this text to heart as something written for us, can we then have the heart of Jesus as we look out over our great and beautiful city of Hollywood and weep with Jesus over it.
    1. As opposed to pronouncing curses on it.
  I. O Hollywood, Hollywood….
VI. Of Foxes and Barnyard Fires
  A. The metaphors in this passage are metaphors of immanent danger, on the one hand, and protection, on the other.
    1. The most obvious metaphor of danger is the fox.
    2. Jesus refers to Herod as a fox – cunning and ferocious, especially when it comes to a hen and little chicks.
      a. Interesting, isn’t it, that Jesus chooses for himself a hen, and his people, chicks
      b. And gives his enemy the image of the more powerful animal.
      c. Jesus chooses the weaker animal to describe himself.
  B. But there is another danger in this passage, which is only hinted at.
  C. It is the barnyard fire.
    1. The image of chicks gathered under the wings of a hen is, according to many scholars, the image of a barnyard fire.
    2. Animals instinctively know when danger is present and their instincts tell them how to be safe.
    3. Little chicks run for their mother and hide under her wings.
    4. In the case of a fire in a barnyard, the animals simply cannot escape.
    5. In such cases a charred mother hen has been found with her little chicks, still alive, under her wings.
    6. She has literally given her life for them.
  D. No doubt this is on Jesus mind.
    1. On his way to Jerusalem where a fire storm awaits him
    2. Instigated partly by the fox, Herod.
    3. And there is nothing Jesus wants more than for his death to count for his own people.
    4. For them to understand that God’s kingdom has come and that they can find shelter and protection in Him.
  E. So today, where/how is Jesus trying to gather us closer to him?
  F. And where/how are we scurrying out from under those wings and off to danger?"
  G. The open arms of our Mother Hen await us
    1. Whatever keeps us scurrying about will eventually destroy us
  H. In our story, as in Jesus’, a storm in coming
    1. The fox is prowling – systems of injustice and oppression are constantly on the prowl to kill and destroy
    2. A dangerous fire is ignited which will burn and destroy.
  I. Jerusalem had a way of rejecting the way of peace.
  J. Sadly, the same can be said in our own generation
  K. One final step:
    1. Can you envision the church as a hen?
    2. A great mother hen in midst of a barn yard
      a. And when the fox attacks or a fire burns, the chicks can find refuge under her wings.
    3. I think Paul would have been comfortable with this imagery.
    4. After all, it was Paul who suggested that the church – the people of God, are the Body of Christ
    5. Perhaps our calling, as the Body of Christ in Hollywood, is to be the Hen
      a. Welcoming broken and injured and threatened and abused to find hospitality and healing and friendship here in fellowship with God’s people.
    6. But all this is predicated upon me, and you, being willing to be drawn closer to our Heavenly Hen – Jesus Christ.

Submitted by Ryan J. Bell. Better Sermons © 2005-2007. Click here for usage guidelines.



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