Summary: Jesus is willing; are we?
“Are You Willing?”
By Rev. Kenneth Emerson Sauer,
Pastor of Parkview United Methodist Church,
Newport News, VA
Have any of you ever met a person or worked with a person who just didn’t seem to like you—for no apparent reason?
What do many of us do when this happens?
Well, we try to be nice to that person.
We want that person to like us.
We don’t understand why they do not, and so we go way out of our way to be friends with that person.
But what happens in so many of these situations?
So often, that person who dislikes us continues to dislike us, and even becomes more and more mean to us or whatever…
…the more we try to win their affection.
This is very painful and very frustrating.
It’s also very confusing.
I’ve often found myself—when confronted with these kinds of situations—thinking, gee, if someone was being as nice to me as I am being to this person…
…I would think that person was the greatest! I would want to be friends with that person. I would be so overwhelmed by their nice-ness toward me that I couldn’t help but be nice back.
Just try to imagine how Jesus feels.
He has done everything to show His love for us…unconditionally…and yet…for some reason…so many of us don’t love Him back!
In our Gospel Lesson for this morning we see Jesus in sorrow over those who will not only ultimately reject Him…
…but will put Him through the most horrible of deaths.
Look at verse 34 again: “O 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, but you were not willing!”
Jesus’ lament over Jerusalem is reminiscent of how King David mourned the death of his son Absalom—despite the fact that Absalom had tried to overthrow his father.
In 2 Samuel chapter 18 we see one of the most moving expressions of a father’s love for his son—despite all that his son had done.
King David cried out: “O my son Absalom! My son Absalom! If only I had died instead of you—O Absalom, my son, my son!”
Is this not what Jesus did for those of us who are willing to believe?
In the movie, “The Passion Of The Christ,” one of the criminals on the cross hears Jesus pray: “Father forgive them.”
At this, the criminal looks down at the high priest who represents God’s chosen people and says: “Look, he’s praying for you.”
The high priest just turns and walks away.
How many of us, just turn and walk away from the love of Christ?
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem…” cries the heartbroken Christ—with a yearning and a sob.
How often does our casual worldliness break His heart, and yet many of us are neither aware of this nor care.
Here we have a picture of reality.
God has created us with a freewill.
And Jesus’ willingness to gather us together, “as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings” is answered by humankind’s: “I am not willing!”
If God forced us to love Him, our love would not be real.
The only real love comes from a willing obedience.
Jesus will not make us love Him.
He will not legislate our love nor control our wills.
He will not walk into our hearts without permission.
How many of us, most often in our young bachelor or bachelorette days, have put our love on the line only to have that love rejected?
Maybe we fell head over heals for some young woman or man who attracted our attention.
It might have started with smiles in the lunch line, hellos in the hallways of school.
And then the bolder: phone numbers were exchanged, there were a few dates.
And then, the overbearingly mushy: say…on a park bench in the middle of campus, on Valentine’s Day, we nauseatingly pour out our hearts in a speech that rivals a Shakespearean sonnet.
It probably makes us gag to think about it now.
But it was not to be.
We got the drift eventually.
She or he was never home when we called.
We never passed each other in the hallway anymore.
Word got back to us that this person was dating someone else.
Unrequited love for a young person is as close to the end of the world as one may ever come.
Now Jesus’ desire for us, no doubt, is a lot different than this.
But it’s similar in this regard: Jesus is willing to humble Himself…to make Himself vulnerable in order to get our attention.
He likens himself to a hen.
Out of all the animals that Jesus could have chosen as a metaphor for Himself, He chooses a hen.