Summary: Why God’s will seems to be absolute and yet not absolute.
March 11, 2001 Luke 13:31-35
At that time some Pharisees came to Jesus and said to him, “Leave this place and go somewhere else. Herod wants to kill you.” 32 He replied, “Go tell that fox, ‘I will drive out demons and heal people today and tomorrow, and on the third day I will reach my goal.’ 33 In any case, I must keep going today and tomorrow and the next day—for surely no prophet can die outside Jerusalem! 34 “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! 35 Look, your house is left to you desolate. I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’”
King Solomon is said to have been one of the wisest men to ever have lived. But even he admitted in Proverbs 30: “There are three things that are too amazing for me,
four that I do not understand:
19 the way of an eagle in the sky,
the way of a snake on a rock,
the way of a ship on the high seas,
and the way of a man with a maiden.
Wouldn’t it be nice if those were the only mysteries of the universe? But they aren’t. There are many things we don’t understand - that we can only hope to get a grasp on in life.
One of those areas of things that are hard to understand is the will of God - which is revealed in today’s text. At one point - Jesus tells the Herod, “I’m going to do what I WANT to do, and you can’t stop me.” But then, Jesus mourns over the fact that Jerusalem is not coming to Him like He WANTS.” It naturally makes us ask, why can Jesus do what he wants, yet not do what he wants?
What is Up With the Will of God?
I. It is not absolute over the will of man
As Jesus was going through the region of Perea, He says, “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! He compares Jerusalem to his reckless and foolish chicks who do not want to gather under his wings. You can sense the anguish in Jesus’ voice over the situation. What does this tell us about the will of God? It is not absolute. It cannot be imposed upon someone who absolutely does not WANT it.
This is hard for us to comprehend -especially when it comes to conversion. If God wants us to be saved, why doesn’t he just make us believe? If God could create the world in six days - if he could walk on water - if he could raise the dead - if he can convert people dead in sin - if he can HARDEN people’s hearts, in other words - if God is ALMIGHTY, and He wants ALL MEN to be saved, then we naturally ask, “then why doesn’t God force the world come to faith?” Yet what does Jesus do in today’s text? Instead of forcing their conversion, he cries over Jerusalem’s unwillingness.
We have a hard time understanding this, because we are naturally born with a sinful work righteous law driven attitude - thinking that the only thing that will change people is a swift kick or a threat. Husbands think that abuse will work to MAKE their wives will obey them or their children listen to them. Wives think that complaining will FORCE their husbands to spend time with them. But how does this use of FORCE really work? Think of it through modern day illustrations. When my mom was young, she liked a young boy. She didn’t know how to get his attention, so one day after school she ran after him and tackled him. But as she looked down on her hapless victim, instead of having googly eyes, he had eyes of terror. Her power only served to scare her young suitee into distress. The Beatles sang a similar theme with the song, “Can’t buy me love.” It doesn’t matter how much power or money you have - you can’t force someone into loving you. In the movie Aladdin, the one thing Genie couldn’t do was make someone love someone else. When the Catholic Church tried to FORCE conversions during the Middle Ages, it only put an eternal scar on their church. So why should we be surprised that God doesn’t force LOVE with POWER?