Summary: We’ve got a decision to make--the fox with a sure and violent death or hovering under the wings of Jesus.
Parents love to give advice to their children. As they are young, parents say, "Don’t run out in the street. Don’t touch the hot stove. Don’t play with fire." As children get older, parents continue, "Don’t use drugs. Don’t have pre-marital sex." Parents hope that the children will follow this advice, because if they do not, often they can be harmed or even killed.
Jesus gives us some advice too. "Do not worry about your life. Do not worry about tomorrow. Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth. Do not judge. Love your enemies. Come to me all who are weary and heavy-laden." Jesus’ hope is that his children will follow this advice as well, because it prove deadly for us spiritually, if we don’t follow it.
Jesus is lamenting that people have not followed his advice or care in Luke 13:34: "Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those that are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather her children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!" If we’ve ever loved someone we could not protect or someone who is picking a dangerous road, then we understand the intensity of Jesus’ lament.
On the Mount of Olives in Israel, there is a chapel erected commemorating this saying. The sides are in the shape of tears. Inside the chapel is a mosaic depicting the text. There is a white hen with a halo and wings outspread with chicks gathered near her at her feet. A picture that shows what might have been, if Jesus had been fully received. The words of the scripture are written in Latin and the last phrase is set apart in red, "AND YOU WERE NOT WILLING."
With Jesus’ outspread wings, we can respond a couple of ways: with hostility, animosity or uncertainty, or with openness and reception. We are called upon to make a decision.
In these verses, there are two animal images. There is the fox. Jesus refers to Herod as a fox. Some Pharisees warn Jesus to get away for Herod wants to kill him. Jesus responds by saying, "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.’" The Bible portrays evil as dangerous and predatory animals. Do not mess with evil, you may lose your life! Satan is characterized as a serpant in Genesis and as a lion, looking for someone to devour in I Peter 5. The wolf snatches God’s sheep in Matthew 7. Now Herod is referred to as a devouring fox. The fox or evil is lurking near! This is serious business! This is a matter of life and death! It is not to be taken lightly! Then, there’s this other animal, a hen, with sheltering wings opened wide. We’ve got a decision to make--the fox with a sure and violent death or hovering under the wings of Jesus.
We are left with an invitation. It is stated this way in Revelation 3: "You are neither cold nor hot. I wish that you were either cold or hot. So, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I am about to spit you out of my mouth...Listen! I am standing at the door, knocking; if you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to you and eat with you and you with me." (Rev. 3:15-16, 20)
There are other scriptures that talk about the sheltering wings of God. "As an eagle stirs up its nest, and hovers over its young; as it spreads its wings, takes them up, and bears them aloft on its pinions, the Lord alone guided him." (Deut. 32:11-12a)
Psalm 17:8 says, "Guard me as the apple of the eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings."
Then, Psalm 91:4 states, He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge." There was a woman who took particular comfort in Psalm 91:4. One day as she was getting in her car, a man came up to her with a gun and ordered, "Get in the car!" She got in her car and he did as well. "Now drive!" he yelled. She began driving and was filled with fear. She wanted some comfort through this trauma, so she began recalling her favorite scripture, Psalm 91:4 and repeating it to herself. "His feathers cover me. His feathers cover me." She first said them to herself, then out loud, louder and louder. Finally, the assailant shouted, "Stop the car! Let me out! You’re crazier than I am!" Indeed, she rested in the protective wings of Jesus! Her response to Jesus was, "Cover me with your wings!"