How will he answer?
144,000? Maybe that’s how many will be saved?
Nope, he doesn’t say that. His answer is a story. He tells a parable about a man with a house, and the house has a narrow door. In the story people will try too enter the house, but the owner will shut the door. Outside the people start banging on the door, frustrated as to why the owner will not let them in. From the other side of the door he calls to them “I never knew you! Go away.”
Outside you can see the people looking really confused, shrugging to one another with a look on their face that says “What is he talking about?” They respond back to him saying “But we ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets!” It sure sounds like the people outside have convincing evidence for him to think, “You’re right…fine!” then open the door and let them in. There seems to be a relationship between the people outside and the owner of the house.
Instead the owner shouts back, “I never knew you! Away!”
The Pharisees speak up because they suspected, rightly, that Jesus was telling this story about them. They tell him to leave that place because they local maniac king Herod was apparently uttering threats against Jesus!
Jesus, undeterred, says “Go tell that fox that I must be about my business.” Jesus then proceeds to say that a chicken will save the world.
But truly, when you think about it.
He doesn’t use the words: “a chicken will save the world.” He says that he is like a hen who has desired to gather her chicks. He is using a simile, a figure of speech, to liken himself to a chicken. And he does desire to save the world. That was why he was born. That was the focus of his preaching, that the Kingdom of God was being made known through him. That people should follow his way.
And so in an astounding image, Jesus says that he looks at the people (and he specifically mentions the city of Jerusalem here), and desires to draw them in like a hen would lift up her wings and cover her little chicks.
That’s how God feels about us. He loves us and wants to save us. Jesus never answers the question if just a few will be saved. Instead he reminds of how God wants to save us. He has not only provided a door, albeit a narrow one, for us to walk through in order to be saved. God also loves us and wants to save us. We see the heart of God in this passage. God’s heart is an attitude of grace, love and mercy for us.
There’s a problem though.
In the narrow door story, the people thought they knew Jesus, but they were wrong.
In the hen story, Jesus goes on to tell the people, they were not willing to be gathered under his wings. Instead people are like a chick who would run away from the loving, care of the mother hen.
We might ask why any chick would do that. Why would they be unwilling when the care of their mother is so good and safe and warm? I can’t answer for a chick, but I think you and I can answer that question for humanity.
So what if we rewrite the question: Why would so many people turn away from God? When God loves us so much, when he gives us grace and mercy, when he sent his Son to give his life for us so that we can walk through that narrow door, why would we not want to be close to him?
There are many reasons why a person would not want to be close to God.
It could be distractions. Our American society has a lot of entertaining distractions to offer. If we have food, clothing, and fun (and we have oodles of them here), why do we need God?
It could be disbelief. Plenty of people simply don’t believe in God.
It could be particular view of God. Some see God as a tyrant or judgmental. Who would want to be close to that kind of God?
There could be more reasons. How do you feel about God? Do you feel close to him? Do you feel far?
I don’t know that I can answer the questions and concerns that you have about God. But the parables Jesus tells us in this passage give us some clues. First, the narrow door is still open. Enter through it. Get to know him, to really know him. Knowing him starts with a question: “What does it mean to really know him?” Then make this year the year where you seek that answer. Jesus’ parable suggests clearly that we should not assume that we know him. Instead have a teachable heart that says “Lord, I want to know you better!”
I came across an article this past week that could point out roadblocks that could prevent you from knowing God better. It’s called 10 People Nobody Can Help. Are you one of those 10?
Second, be like the chick that is willing to be gathered under his wings. Run to him. Remember that he loves you. God is not angry at you. He wants to be close to you. Jesus’ point is that staying under his wings is the best possible place to be. Do you believe that being close to Jesus is the best possible place to be? I will probably not be able to convince you. Instead I urge you to take him at his word and give him a try.
Want to know how to run to him?
It starts with prayer in the midst of situation “Lord, I trust in you. Take my life. I give myself to you. I want you to help me. I want to know you more.” And you have to mean it.
Jesus, another time, said “Abide in me, and let my words abide in you.” Get his words in you. Study the Bible. Even if it is reflecting on one verse per day. Read a chapter of Proverbs per day. Read a Psalm per day. Then get in touch with someone who can help you study the Bible deeper. Get a study bible and use the notes.
Be committed to his mission of making disciples. Be discipled yourself by someone who is more mature. Ask them to disciple you. I should be able to go to each of you and ask “Who is discipling you?” and you should be able to give me that name. And from the other direction I should be able to ask you “Who are you discipling?” and you should have a name. You can ask the same questions of me!
Abide under his wings through being generous with your money. Abide through giving of your time to serve the Lord…in a ministry in the church, in a community outreach, etc. This is the sacrificial nature of the disciple of Jesus.
As we head into 2016 let’s take a look at Jesus and let’s check our hearts. Are we “riding the coattails” of our family’s Christian values, are we hoping we are being good enough because there are so many others who are worse?
OR are we willing to do the hard work, to make tough choices and to follow God’s best way for our lives? To look at ourselves and see which ways we might be able to make changes to grow to be more and more like our Jesus. He wants to gather us. He loves us. Are we running to him or away from him?”