“As a hen gathers her chicks under wings”
Luke 13:34, Deuteronomy 4:9-10
Today is the Sunday celebrating Mother’s Day, and I have chosen today’s texts for us to reflect on mothers’ love and mothers’ responsibilities for their children. As we reflect on a mother’s love, we can reflect on God’s love for us as well.
Luke 13: 34/Matthew 23:37, “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.”
Whenever I read this text, I feel the sorrow and anguish of Jesus, feeling his tears towards his own people who refused to come to him, the only One who could protect and save them from the dangers of the world of Satan.
Before we go any further, let us pay attention to hen’s behavior to understand our text more clearly, “as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings”. Since I have never raised chicken myself, nor my parents, I do not know much about chickens’ behavior, so I researched a little about them.
The hen is “territorial” in her nest in that she is the great defender and totally fearless. The roosters (males) only fight among themselves for dominance while the hen protects her chicks always. The hen broods the eggs until hatching and provides heat for the tender chicks until they are fledged. A hen has a variety of informative “clucks.” For example, a certain clucking sound would call her chicks to eat. When perceiving danger, a hen would sound a special clucking that calls her chicks to gather under her wings for protection. If a dog gets close or the shadow of a hawk comes by, then hen clucks out an alarm and flaps. She gathers up chicks under her. If it is a cold and windy night, chicks take refuge under the wings of the mother hen. So, the hen is both the refuge from danger and for warmth. She will fight to the death to protect her chicks. There is a story about a mother hen sacrificing her life for her chicks. There was a fire in the barnyard, and the mother hen gathered her chicks under her wings. After the fire swept through the barnyard the mother hen had been incinerated, but the chicks under her wings were still alive. That is the mother’s love, isn’t it?
Mother wants to protect and provide tender care for her own children from the dangers and from the cold and harsh world. But what if her own children refuse to take refuge under her wings when they cannot fend for themselves from the roaring lions and/or from the bitter cold realities in the world? What if our own children refuse to come to us even when they are dying and suffering severely when we know that we can surely and certainly save them out? How desperately we would cry out for our own children to come to us?
That is how Jesus is calling out for his own people with his open arms, for you and me! Jesus is looking over the city calling out desperately, “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.” Jesus sees the suffering of His people: Pain. Despair. Hopelessness. Loneliness. It is a world of danger, sin, and death. Jesus so much wants to share His love with us, to protect us, and to save us and He weeps for us, even now. Yet, people refuse to come to Jesus.
I meet patients at the hospital. One of the patients I met the other day, she said, “I rather do without Jesus.” Even among Christian patients, I meet, some refuse to accept prayer support. Feeling sorry for them, I would say, “well, I just want you to know that Jesus loves you very much.” Then, some people grudgingly say, “I know that!”, but I do not see any sign of gratitude for His love on their faces. Among them, although they say they are Christians, some admit that they are not attending church. They moved to Saint Louis area from somewhere else and haven’t gone to church for 10 years, this one patient I met said to me the other day. Many of our children are far away from God, not having a relationship with God. They had grown up in church, but not attending church now. The world we are living in is full of dangers, –satanic ideas and satanic ways of living are permeated in everyday living in the world.
What good is it if we, mothers and parents, provide very well materialistically for our children being there for them whenever we can, trying to help and protect if we can but what if our children are without Jesus, being defenseless out in the world when they are alone being on their own feet? Our children are going away to college and getting jobs away from us, but do we have the confidence in them that they will still hold on to the faith in God through Jesus the Christ? Almost all those patients I met at the hospital had been grown up in the churches while they were living with their parents, but when they are on their own feet, they live without Christ.
On this Mother’s Day, God gave us a message through the Deuteronomy 4:9-10. “Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them. 10 Remember the day you stood before the Lord your God at Horeb, when he said to me, “Assemble the people before me to hear my words so that they may learn to revere me as long as they live in the land and may teach them to their children.”
Firstly, we have to be very careful and watch ourselves closely not to forget what God has done for us. Israelites had experienced God’s saving works from the hands of Egyptians who wanted to keep them as slaves. They experienced how God separated the sea to make the way when there was no way. God protected and guided Israelites with fire and cloud pillars when they were going through the wilderness on their way to the promised land. Likewise, we experienced God making the way when there seemed to be no way for us to walk on in our lives. From many dangers in life, God has protected and guided us through. More than anything, God the creator Jesus has died for us to give us life on earth and in heaven. We confess that faith and we experienced that saving grace. We have to be very careful and watch closely not to forget all the saving acts of Jesus unto death.
How do we do that? What do we have to do to keep them in our hearts to remember always? Worship centered, prayers and listening to God through the scripture are ways to be in tune with God. If we do not have an on-going relationship, we cannot remember what God has done for us. The vivid memories we once had will fade away from our hearts. Out of sight, out of mind! If we do not have Jesus in our lives daily, Jesus will soon be removed from the center of our hearts. Family devotions, setting aside time for daily prayer, studying the scripture should be part of our lives.
Secondly, we have responsibilities to teach our children and our grandchildren what God had done for us with our words and deeds. Our children should be able to hear the good news of God through our words of praise, thanksgiving and giving glory to God in our daily living. Our children should be taught through our actions, –how we are devoted to God, how we prioritize God in our lives, not compromising God’s principles with the worldly principles. Our children have to be taught how we depend on God in time of troubles and difficulties and see how God gives us victory when we do that. It does not matter so much if we cannot provide for our children with physical and materialistic needs, but it matters greatly if we do not feed them spiritually through our words and actions because their souls are at stake if we do not feed them with God.
My parents did not have much while we were growing up. They were not able to help us out with our schooling. One time while I was at graduate school, I needed a thousand dollars. I could not ask my mom knowing that that will be too much for her to spare. My other siblings were as well struggling financially being in school. So, I prayed as my parents did whenever they needed help. It was during a winter break. A couple from Chattanooga invited me to spend Christmas vacation with them. So, I went, and, on the Christmas morning, this couple gave me a check as a Christmas gift and it was exactly a thousand- dollar check. I learned to depend on God from my parents, not just for financial matters, but for everything I do in my life knowing that God is the God Almighty who loves me unto death.
Thirdly, we have to remember the day we stood before God at Horeb. Mount Horeb was where Israelites stood before the presence of God experiencing God. We have to remember the day when God met us with his awesome presence. “remember” is to repeat constantly with our lips about God, about his Holy presence. Repeating God’s greatness and His Holiness is the way to teach our children. Then, they will never depart from the presence of God. Because God has become an integral part of their life from early on in their life, they cannot depart from the presence of God. May God bless those who listen to the message of God today! Amen!!