Luke 13:31-32 At that very hour some Pharisees came, and said to him, "Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you." And he said to them, "Go and tell that fox, Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I finish my course.
You know the old saying Ė When the going gets tough, the tough get going. While we might often wonder what it means, for when faced with adversity, it seems these days that many are either quitting, or choosing a new direction. For all the talk these days about individuality, donít you hear more about people doing things, because everyone else is doing things? One wonders whether the old saying has obtained a new meaning, so that it really reads, when the going gets tough, we go with the flow.
While there may be some people who arenít going anywhere, isnít the bigger and more important question, Where are we going? Where we are going is the thing that is most liable to determine how hard we work at getting there. We are not very likely to work very hard at getting to someplace we really donít want to go. Tickets to a championship game, or to the sold out concert, a hunting license to a short season, a really big sale Ė these are often things that will motivate us to go that extra mile, and overcome what ever obstacle.
Jesus faced some incredible obstacles, and in our lesson we hear that now King Herod is seeking to kill Jesus, what do you do? Jesus doesnít run away, he knows where he is going, and he continues on course, even though there is danger and death before him. Jesus not only does what is necessary, but he does what is not for his good, but for our good. Jesus continues the course so that he can be the hen that not only gathers her chicks under her wings, but also be strong enough to save them from all harm and danger.
The great wonder of the gospel is that God loves us enough to pay whatever price is necessary to keep us safe under his wings. And while we have spoken before of wandering sheep, and how the good shepherd goes in search of the lost, and finding he rejoices and carries them home, here the image is not of the shepherd, but of a mother hen. It is still an image of love and care. And it is this image that brings us back to our main question Ė Where are we going?
Sometimes I think that we look at God and the salvation that is ours in Jesus Christ, kind of like a bungie cord. We tie it to ourselves, and then we jump off the cliff, and fall into whatever it is that has for the moment captured our fancy, and that cord is supposed to pull us back before we plunge to our death. So faith is trust that the love of God will save us, and always pull us back in the nick of time, and if God is already doing that for us, then we can do what we want?
Iíve never seen the scripture say anything remotely like this, but time and time again I see people their lives in this manner. While they call themselves Christians, the only thing you can observe is their regular running away from God. Jesus has said quit clearly, if you love me, you will keep my commandments. Jesus has not called us to run away from God, but to run to God, confessing our sins, and then, receiving forgiveness, to follow our savior.
How do people perish? Salvation isnít a bungie cord, not that the cord breaks, but the people who plunge headlong to destruction die, because as they plunge, they let go of the rope, they despair of Godís love and salvation, or their heart simply fails. People perish, because when God works to gather them into the church, they refuse to be gathered, they refuse Godís gift of salvation, they refuse Godís gift of protection. There may have been a brief excitement before they plunged into everlasting punishment, but the terror was not something that you would call pleasant, it is one time that one could rightly say, they were scared to death.
So what of us? We know God is a mighty fortress. We know God is a rock of refuge. We know God is a good shepherd. We know God would gather us as a hen gathers her chicks, to keep them safe and provide for their needs. We have seen innumerable proofs of Godís love and faithfulness. So, perhaps we too need the hear the warning. It is time to stop treating salvation like a bungie cord, and time to start living as the children of God, gathered by God, and always following our good shepherd. It is time to keep our eyes on where we are going, for we have been called to follow Jesus. You see, Jesus finished the course, and if we trust in Him and follow Him, he will see that we too safely make it to the end of our course, and to the place prepared for us in heaven.