“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! See, your house is left to you desolate. For I tell you, you will not see me again, until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’”
(Matthew 23:37-39 ESV)
In the passages we’ve been studying over the past few days, Jesus has strong words of rebuke towards Israel’s leaders.One could come to the conclusion, based on Jesus’ words up until this point, that He hated these people because of their sin. But that conclusion would be wrong.
In His final publically spoken words, Jesus demonstrates the love He had for the people of Israel, even though they rejected and mistreated Him. Despite their arrogance and sinful ways, He never stopped caring for them. His heart broke for them because He knew that their sin was destroying their eternity.
All the time that Israel was rejecting Him God was willing to gather them as a hen gathers her brood under her wings. Chicks take shelter underneath their mother’s wings for protection. God takes pity and offers mercy to all the people He has created to protect them from the eternal ramifications of their sin. But notice… we must be willing.
God is patient. He does not turn His back on sinners. He bears with us in love trying ceaselessly to get our attention, as Jesus did during His three years of public ministry. But man is arrogant and stubborn. We don’t want to believe we are sinners. And even if we do, we want to redeem ourselves – something that is impossible [Romans 8:3-4; Ephesians 2:8-9 et. al ].
God will not break down the door of a person’s heart. He will stand outside and knock. It is up to us to open the door and let Him in. While God does describe our sin in incredibly harsh language, as we’ve just studied, He does so not because He hates us but because He loves us and wants us to understand the grave consequences sins holds for us.
As we’ve learned, the overwhelming majority of all people ever born will reject God and end up in hell [Matthew 7:13-14]. This is 100% their fault. They were not willing to accept the truth of their sin and the forgiveness God offers only through Jesus [John 14:6]. If they were, God would have saved them from their sins.
Anyone who ends up in hell will have only themselves to blame. As Jesus has told multiple times, in hell there will be two kinds of people: those who weep over their mistake of rejecting Him and those who harbor anger at themselves for rejecting Him [Matthew 8:12, 13:42]. Everyone in hell will realize the horrible, tragic mistake they made. This is one of the things that will make hell – an eternal existence – so unbearable.
This is a great lesson for those people who don’t yet believe in Jesus. But it is also a great lesson for those of us who do. We are to be like Jesus. We are not to hate anyone because of their sin, including sins committed directly against us. Even if people laugh at us, or beat us, or maim us we must feel compassion for them and must care about their eternity.
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