This week we find ourselves well into the season of Lent. We began this journey on Ash Wednesday and it will take us through Holy Week and end with celebration on Easter Morning. I pray that at this point in Lent your spiritual disciplines have become habits that are drawing you closer to God and that you have become more aware of the work and presence of the Holy Spirit in your life.
Whether it is fasting, intentional study of scripture, or contemplative prayer there are important things we do as Christians in this season so that we can better understand and appreciate what Christ has done for us in his suffering, death, and resurrection. In this season, we can also let go of some habits in life that distract us from being present with God or from recognizing God’s presence with us.
No matter what spiritual disciplines we take up, or what things we let go of, I invite us to consider a question that may help form us as Christian disciples during this season. That question is, “What am I committed to?” Based on how we spend our time, how we treat other people, and the things that motivate us, what would you say you are committed to? Would your spouse or children say the same thing? Would a friend agree? What would a stranger you encounter have to say? Thinking about what we are committed to in our daily lives can give indication to how we think about and have faith in God.
In order to understand why our commitments as Christians are important, I think we ought to look to Jesus and what he was committed to. As his foundation, I would say that Christ was committed to love. He was committed to loving people, he was committed to teaching people how to love themselves and others, and he was committed to people knowing that God loves us all. In all that Christ did, we can find love as the foundation to his commitments.
This week in scripture we witness Jesus being committed to love even when threatened by Herod. In Luke 13:31-35, some Pharisees come to Jesus and warn him that Herod wants to kill him. Jesus responds with a declaration that he intends to keep on doing the work he was called and created to do. The foundation of love is evident when Jesus says, “I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings” (Luke 13:34). I don’t think we need to have raised chickens to imagine a mother hen protecting her baby chicks. With the same love and care a hen instinctually has to protect her young, so too Jesus is committed to reach out and protect us all with love.
I think that this imagery Jesus uses was very intentional. When Jesus talks about a mother hen with outstretched wings protecting her young, I think that Jesus wants us to think of him with outstretched arms on the Cross. Just like the hen gathers her young under the protection of her wings, Jesus is reaching out with outstretched arms from the Cross, inviting us all to gather under his love and care. This is what Jesus was committed to. We know this to be true because he lived and died and rose again so that we may know the love God has for us and have faith in Christ as our Savior.
When the Pharisees came to inform Jesus about a threat against his life from Herod, I think they expected either a “fight or flight” response from him. However, Jesus is committed to love and that is how he responds. When we are faced with conflict or adversity in life, the world often expects, or maybe even desires, a response of either fear or confrontation. Jesus shows us how to respond with love. I pray that we can commit ourselves to following Christ’s example in this and every season of our lives so that it may be on earth as it is in heaven.
With peace and love, Pastor Adam