Prophecy #4 – Mother God and the Roman Eagle

Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! See, your house is left to you. And I tell you, you will not see me until the time comes when you say, “Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.” —Jesus (Luke 13:34–35)Last week we looked at Jesus’ call to Israel to repent of her “eye for an eye” way of relating to the Romans, and to embrace loving and forgiving her enemies, which would end in life through the narrow gate of a nonviolent revolution.

The Hebrew (and remember, Jesus was a Hebrew) word for repentance is teshuvah. Teshuvah is defined as “turning”—it is a turning from sin to God. But what does this mean in the context of Jesus’ use of this concept? Jesus was calling them to repent for their violence and turn to nonviolence. The verb form of teshuvah is shuv, which actually means to “return.” Originally it held the meaning “to return to God from exile,” from the place of alienation and separation back to God. It referred to a return from the path of annihilation, the way of violence, to God and God’s path of life, the way of peace. It is returning from Babylon (Rome) to the fulfillment of the promises made to Israel. Jesus clearly taught that the way of violent retaliation and revolution against Rome accompanied simultaneously by stricter obersvance of the Torah was not the repentance he was referring to. Repenting, for Jesus, meant leaving the path of violence toward our enemies and entering the path of forgiveness and love of others, including love for our enemies (see Matthew 7:12–14).

The context of our passage this week is that Jesus was about to return to Jerusalem:

At that very hour some Pharisees came and said to him, “Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you.” He said to them, “Go and tell that fox for me, ‘Listen, I am casting out demons and performing cures today and tomorrow, and on the third day I finish my work. Yet today, tomorrow, and the next day I must be on my way, because it is impossible for a prophet to be killed outside of Jerusalem.’” (Luke 13:31–33)

Then Jesus stops and muses:

Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! See, your house is left to you. And I tell you, you will not see me until the time comes when you say, “Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.” (Luke 13:34–35)

Jesus, in a rare moment of clarity, through a momentary window, lets us into His heart to see what is transpiring within Him. Jesus steps into the role of a mother hen, as Mother God, and weeps over Jerusalem’s rejection of Him and the way out that He has been offering them. How fitting that Jesus would take up the image of a mother hen, covering her baby chicks with her wings, protecting them from the circling predatory eagle in the sky above (a very fitting description, as Rome’s symbol was the eagle)! Yet Jerusalem’s hope was fading. For three years Jesus had been holding on to the hope of nonviolent transformation through a divine love of enemies offered as an alternative to Jerusalem’s destruction by the eagle of Rome. The mother hen was now leaving Jerusalem to her own devices, yet she was very willing to return at any moment if Jerusalem would simply turn from this path of violent retaliation, this path of placing her hope in a militaristic messiah, and instead call blessed this coming to them by God himself in the form of a prophet of nonviolence. Instead, Jesus was seen not as blessed, but as dangerous. We see this most clearly in the words of Caiaphas:

You do not understand that it is better for you to have one man die for the people than to have the whole nation destroyed. (John 11:50)

As Jesus said, three days later He would enter Jerusalem. Would the people of Jerusalem repent and call him blessed, or would they take another step toward their annihilation and ruin?

As He rode along, people kept spreading their cloaks on the road. As he was now approaching the path down from the Mount of Olives, all of His disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the deeds of power that they had seen, saying, “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven, and glory in the highest heaven!” (Luke 19:36–38)

Would Jerusalem join the disciples in calling Him blessed? I’m afraid that’s not what happened. Instead:

Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, order your disciples to stop.” He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the stones would shout out.” (Luke 19:39–40, emphasis mine)

Where does this leave us today?

I’m convinced, both within Christianity and outside of it as well, that Jesus is still longing and waiting with deep expectation for a people who, like the early Jesus movement itself, say, “Blessed is this this prophet bearing the message of hope for a world faced with annihilation! Blessed is the prophet that has come, giving us a way to heal broken people, to heal broken relationships, and ultimately the way that leads to the healing of the nations and the healing of the world!”

Lord Irwin is reported as having asked Gandhi at one point what he thought would solve the problems between Great Britain and India. Gandhi picked up a Bible, opened it to the fifth chapter of Matthew, and said, “When your country and mine shall get together on the teachings laid down by Christ in this Sermon on the Mount, we shall have solved the problems not only of our countries, but those of the whole world.”

Blessed is He who comes with the way of life, the way of nonviolently loving and forgiving our enemies, of restorative justice (rather than retributive) rooted in nonviolence. This forgiveness, with a view toward redeeming, restoring, and reclaiming, is the way to heal the world.

The thought that it is too late is of demonic origin. There is still hope, but that hope today is the same as it was back then. Wherever we are right now, the last great hope for us and our world is in calling blessed that Prophet Who came to us two thousand years ago with the message of an enemy-forgiving God Who is inviting us into His nonviolent way of living life.

HeartGroup Application

Too many times our rhetoric betrays us. Today we speak of inviting Jesus into your lives, into our agendas, into our hopes and dreams and aspirations and goals. But the question I would like to ask is, “Are we simply asking Jesus to join our world, or are we ourselves joining Jesus and stepping into His world?” Rather than inviting Jesus into your life this week, ask Jesus to show you how you may more fully step into His life, His agenda, His hope for this world, His dreams, His aspirations. Ask Jesus to take you further up and further into the reality of His passions becoming your passions.

1.I want you to go back and prayerfully meditate on two passages. The first is John 3:17: “Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be HEALED [Sozo] through him.” The second is the parable of the pearl of great price (found in Matthew 13:45). Remember that the pearl is neither Jesus, nor ourselves—it is the establishment of Jesus’ kingdom on a restored, healed, and reconciled earth. This is the pearl for which Jesus gave up everything to accomplish, and it is the pearl He calls us to give up everything to join Him in accomplishing.

2.As you meditate on these two passages, write down each day what thoughts, questions, insights, or even other passages Jesus gives to you.

3.Share what you write down with your fellow Jesus followers in your HeartGroup, encouraging one another, spurring each other on to love and deeds that put on display what the world changed by Jesus looks like.

Wherever this finds you this week, keep living in love, loving like Christ, putting on display the beauty of the God we see in Jesus, restoring one human heart at a time, until the only world that remains is a world where love reigns.

I love you guys,

See you next week.