Summary: Jesus would draw us close in repentance if we would come to Him.
"I Need a Hug"
Matthew has Jesus, probably in the temple with people milling all around. His heart is broken over the spiritual plight of His people, and He cries out;
"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.
38 Look, your house is left to you desolate. 39 For I tell you, you will
not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name
of the Lord.’"
In Bil Keane’s comic strip, Family Circus, the little boy Jeffy comes up to his parents; it’s obvious they’ve put the kids to bed and are relaxing in the living room a bit before turning in themselves. Jeffy’s standing there in his pajama’s looking forlorn. He says, "I don’t feel so good. I think I need a hug."
I preached a sermon similar to this back in 1987. Four years later, in 1991, I received a letter from one of the elderly women of that church. She had an article from the paper and sent it to me. It’s called,
What’s So Great About Hugs?
There’s no such thing as a bad hug - only good ones and great ones. They’re not fattening and they don’t cause cancer or cavities. They’re all natural with no preservatives, artificial ingredients or pesticide residue. They’re cholesterol free, naturally sweet, 100 percent wholesome. And they’re a completely renewable resource. They don’t require batteries,
tune-ups or x-rays. They’re non-taxable, fully returnable and energy efficient. They’re safe in all kinds of weather; in fact, they’re especially good on cold or rainy days. And they’re exceptionally good for treating problems like bad dreams or Monday blahs.
Moral? Never wait until tomorrow to hug someone you could hug today!
I visited the same church a year later and found a small stack of coupons on a table in the foyer. It reads,
"Coupon good for ...
... redeem anytime ...
unlimited use for coupon holder!"
Read: Hugs poem.
My sermon title is "I Need a Hug." I’m taking it from Jesus’ words in verse 37, "... how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings,..." I’m calling it a "hug" borrowing from Jeffy’s plea to his parents. But this is a spiritual hug. I see it as surrendering anew to Christ; as one who has strayed returning to Jesus. Think of it as embracing a loved one after a long absence. Think of is as the father’s embrace of the prodigal son. This spiritual "hug" is a drawing near to the Lord in any area in which we have grown distant towards Him.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if God’s children could always see their need as clearly as little Jeffy? But too often we are like Samson who didn’t realize distance had crept into his relationship with the Lord. (Jud. 16:20) Too often we are like the Laodicean church feeling "rich and increased with goods and have need of nothing" all the while not realizing that we are "wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind and naked." (Rev. 3:17)
But how blessed we are in those times when God, in His infinite mercy, reminds us that we need His embrace; that we need to draw near to Him.
Can Christians really not know when they no longer please the Lord?
Of course. That’s one of the reasons we need each other, to help "spur one another on to love and good deeds." (Heb. 10:25) We help keep each other on track.
Think of how Samson must have felt when he sensed the presence of the Lord empower him.
He took up the jaw bone of a donkey and killed 1000 Philistines. (Jud. 15:15) He fought and killed a lion. (Jud. 14:5) He tore up the gates of Gaza and carried them of toward Hebron, some seven miles away. (Jud. 16:3)
Yet as he slept with his head in Delilah’s lap, she ran her fingers through his hair - he never knew when the barber came and went. She yelled, "Wake up dear! The Philistines are going to beat you up!" In his haste and perhaps the stupor of sleep, he jumps up thinking he’ll defeat them like all the other times. And he never realized that his hair was not touching his shoulders. He never realized that the Holy Spirit had departed from him. (Jud. 16:20)
In the 400 year silent period between Malachi and Matthew a group of men grew dissatisfied with the empty, mechanical religion of the day. They formed a religious party that vowed to hold to the old ways. They pledged to maintain and adhere to true Scriptural teachings. The called themselves Pharisees.