LENT 2, C – February 21, 2016

 SCRIPTURES – Jer. 26:8-15; Phil. 3:17 – 4:1; Luke 13:31-35

 

“Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I finish my course. Nevertheless, I must go on my way today and tomorrow and the day following, for it cannot be that a prophet should perish away from Jerusalem. O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! 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 I tell you, you will not see me until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!’”

 

Polls confront us constantly right now. Nearly every day poll results are reported as indications of how well presidential candidates are doing, in a particular state or nationally. And, popularity is not the only thing that is polled. There are also polls that relate a candidates’ unfavorability rating.

 

Whenever Jesus is the subject of a poll, He does extremely well. Almost everyone regards Him highly, even those who are not Christian. And, His unfavorability rating is extremely low. His poll numbers would make any politician turn green with envy! Oh, how people throughout the world admire Jesus!!

 

And He doesn’t care. He doesn’t care! Jesus doesn’t want admiration, from others or from you. He doesn’t want applause and gushing statements praising His goodness and His power. He’s not even satisfied if you believe that He truly is the Son of God and truly did all the things the Bible says He did. You must need Him. This is what He wants.

 

Notice in today’s Gospel reading how quickly Jesus turns the conversation to His cross. He’s warned about Herod, but He turns from him to saying that He must die in Jerusalem. Is this because the cross is so terrible a death that He can think of little else? It’s like if you’re facing an upcoming surgery that is extremely difficult and serious. You can think of little else! Is this why the cross fills our Lord’s mind? No, it is far more than that.

 

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings!” Jesus cries out. He wants you to look at Him as a chick looks at its mother hen: as it’s life. This is what the cross is all about. Our sins are like a hard eggshell. They cover us, entrap us, and separate us from God, and we cannot free ourselves from them. By His cross Jesus breaks them and brings us forth from them, so that we might live with Him and under His sheltering care. This is why the cross fills His mind. He yearns for our deliverance.

 

“But you would not.” How sad it is to hear these words! It is especially sad to hear Jesus say this of Jerusalem. Its people had been called by God and set apart to be His people. But, in rejecting Jesus they had rejected Him. Be warned by them. Many think they are God’s people, but are not!

 

It is great to be baptized, as Carmine was baptized today. The Triune God puts His name upon you in Baptism and takes you into His nest as a member of His family. He declares Himself to be your father and takes you as His child. There is no greater blessing! But, the fact that you were once baptized will not keep you under His wings.

 

It is great to believe that Jesus truly is the Son of God and truly did all the things the Bible says He did. It is great to admire Him for His power, His great works and miracles. He should be admired for them! But, the fact that you believe in Jesus’ power will not keep you under His wings.

 

What will? The cross. Only focusing upon and embracing in faith the death of Jesus for you on the cross will keep you under His wings. Look at Christ upon the cross. See Him dying there for you, to set you free from the sins which hem you in and from which you cannot set yourself free. Hide under the shelter of the cross and its assurance of the forgiveness of sins, as a newly hatched bird hides under the wings of its mother. It is your protection and life.

 

Today Carmine was marked with the sign of the cross in his baptism. He who long ago had been redeemed by Christ, purchased for God by His death on the cross, was marked with the sign of that death. The same sign was made upon you when you were baptized, and perhaps you remember that by making the sign of the cross yourself. It is a good thing to do. Now, take to heart what it means!

 

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings!” This is what the cross means. It’s far more than the story of a new beginning for you through Christ’s death for you, as being hatched is a beginning for a chick. Christ’s death for you is a constant work. It is gathering you under His wings. It is your assurance that God is your refuge. He will protect you from all that would harm your soul and from every attack of the devil. He will feed you and provide for your every need. You live under Christ’s cross, and so under the sheltering care of your God.

 

Make these, the words of hymn #422, your focus and prayer:

Let the clear inscription be: Jesus, crucified for me,

Is my life, my hope’s foundation, and my glory and salvation!

 

In the name of Jesus, our crucified and risen Lord and Savior. Amen.