Today’s reading: Matthew 23:23-39
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, killing the prophets and stoning those who are sent to you! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not! Behold, your house is forsaken and desolate. For I tell you, you will not see me again, until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’”
This is one of my favorite passages in the Bible because of the visual image it conveys. I see a large hen (God) trying to gather all her tiny little newborn chicks (us) but the chicks are fanning out in every direction out into the word enamored with something in the distance. They chicks stray off in different directions unaware of the danger that awaits them.
The verse is obviously an allegory and many interpretations could be applied to it. However, I think the most obvious is that God tries to gather together his people but because we have free will some just head off on their own. We know that what’s best for them is to stay with the hen and if the chicks knew what was out there in the world they would certainly head back. Also, notice that the hen tries to gather the whole brood. The hen doesn’t choose some to save and some not even try. The ones that are not gathered are the ones that “would not”, that refuse to be gathered.
Also, line 39, “For I tell you, you will not see me again, until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord”, is considered one of the more reliable of the end times prophecies. It is commonly understood to mean that Jesus will return after there is a large scale conversion of Jerusalem (the Jewish people). We will know the end times are here when there is a significant conversion of Jews to Christ. Of course, still no one will be able to predict the exact day or the hour.
Tomorrow: Matthew 24:1-22