Brood of Chickens
a sermon based on Luke 13:31-35
by Rev. Randy Quinn
It's curious in this passage that the
Pharisees come to Jesus to warn him about Herod. Curious because the Pharisees have made
it clear that they are not on Jesus' side (Lk 6:11; 11:53). Curious because Jesus already
knows about Herod (Lk 9:7-9). And curious too, because when Herod finally meets Jesus he
has questions, but presents no real threats to harm him (Lk 23:6-12).
These facts might lead us to the conclusion that there is something good in the
Pharisees, that they are not all bad. Or we might conclude that there really is no threat
from Herod and the Pharisees are trying to trick Jesus.
Maybe these Pharisees are trying to lure Jesus into a different place to fulfill a plan
of their own. Or perhaps these Pharisees are trying to get Jesus to keep the lid on
things; theyre thinking the threat of Herod may help them silence Jesus. Yet it
could be that these Pharisees are trying to trap Jesus into saying he was working for
Herod rather than for the Jews.
We don't really know and scholars are not all in agreement. What we do know is that our
lesson last week suggested that the devil waited until another opportunity to tempt Jesus,
making me wonder if this wasn't another subtle form of temptation.
"Stop making such a fuss here and I'll give you the gift of long life." To
which Jesus gives a resounding "no!" He has a task to do and he is not going to
"Tell that ol' fox that I have things to do and I'm going to do them," says
Jesus (v 32). Now, it's pretty obvious that if the Pharisees are really trying to help
Jesus, they would never bring these words to Herod. And if the Pharisees are trying to
trick Jesus by putting words into Herod's mouth, they would never bring these words to
Herod. But, if the Pharisees are working with Herod to put an end to Jesus, these words
are going to add fuel to the fire and make it easier for Herod to impose restrictions on
Jesus and his Disciples.
That never happens, so I suspect Herod never heard these words of Jesus, leading me to
the conclusion that the Pharisees are trying to work the system to their advantage. They
were simply trying to deter Jesus from continuing his ministry.
But Jesus made it clear that he knows where he is heading and will not be stopped in
finishing his task.
In his book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey says
that the two most important habits are to "Be Proactive" and to "Begin With
the End in Mind". By proactive, he means choosing our direction in life based on what
we value. And to begin with the end in mind means deciding where we want to be when we
arrive at our destination. It's being what he calls, "Principle Centered."
Jesus expresses both concepts in this short passage. He does not let Herod or the
threat of Herod or the threat of the Pharisees make his decisions. He chooses a course of
action based on his own value system, on his understanding of what the important things in
life are. He is proactive.
And he knows what the end he has in mind will look like. He will be in Jerusalem for
the final days of his life, not here in Galilee. In the end, Jesus will accomplish the
plan of God in his life, to bring healing and to bring salvation into the world.
His principles guide his decisions. We, on the other hand, are more often like a brood
Like a mother hen, Jesus says, God wants to draw us under her wings and protect us. But
we'd rather peck the ground in front of us and not pay attention to our direction, our
purpose, our path. In doing so, we fail to see obstacles and dangers before us, but maybe
worse yet, we also miss the opportunities and blessings that God has prepared for us.
We are neither proactive nor do we have a long enough range in our vision to see where
we are heading. Instead, we react to whatever is pushing us right now or whatever we see
in front of us right now. And we haven't a clue as to where our current path will lead us.
In all honesty, I haven't spent much time around chickens. What I know about chickens
is based on third hand information and stereotypes I've heard.
Unlike ducklings, chicks don't necessarily follow their mother around. Chicks are too
busy pecking. When a mother hen wants to protect her brood, she uses her beak to pull the
reluctant chicks under her wings. The chicks are so easily distracted that they don't even
recognize their mother's helpful and protective intentions.
And isn't that just like us? I, for one, am easily distracted. It happens all the time.
Last week, I was at home when someone called with a prayer request for the prayer chain.
After I got to the office I remembered that I left the note by the phone at home. So I
went over to the house to get the note I'd written. While I was there, I saw that Ronda
had left the trash out for me to take to the church. So I returned with the trash, and
when I got in the office I realized I'd forgotten the note.
So I went home to get the note. This time Sherel asked me a question, and I found
myself going to the store to buy some milk and butter. The third time I entered the office
without the note, I called home to have Ronda read the note to me.
It's that part of our nature that is used in sporting events to draw our attention away
from the real plan. We might begin looking where the ball is and miss the player going
under the hoop to catch a pass and make a basket.
Last week on TV there were a couple of shows that showed how magicians use that to
trick us into thinking they have done something 'magical'. In fact, they have done nothing
other than to distract us long enough to change the props or players or sets.
Our nature to be distracted so easily is also what causes so many accidents on the
highways. We find ourselves tuning in a radio station or watching an eagle fly by rather
than keeping our eyes on the car in front of us and in our rearview mirror.
We are all easily distracted. We ARE like a brood of chickens. I dont know if
youve seen the Motion Picture version of Godspell. In one scene, the
Disciples, who had heard Jesus preach for some time, forget his teaching about love. They
begin to fight amongst themselves. They are pushing and shoving. They are pulling hair and
punching one another.
It takes Jesus to call them back to their focus. Once called back, they are immediately
reconciled to each other and the fighting stops. But the scene points out how easily they
were distracted. And the truth is that we are, too.
We come to church on Sunday to worship God and find ourselves spending most of our time
socializing with friends and family. We are easily distracted. We read the Bible
faithfully at home, perhaps, and forget that the words written there are meant to form us
and shape us.
We're like a brood of chickens.
We make a commitment to a Lenten Discipline of prayer and fasting, but we conveniently
forget about it when someone offers to take us to lunch.
We're no different than the Disciples. We come to choir practice at church or Sunday
School or a Bible Study, and rather than keeping the end in mind of transforming lives
through worship and education and service, we peck at each other.
We're like chicks who have no direction in their lives. Throughout the forty days of
Lent, we will find it hard to keep our focus. That's the nature of sin in our lives.
Today, I offer the image of the brood of chickens as a reminder of who we are. When we
are clear about who we are and our need for God, I believe we find it easier to keep our
eyes on the God who has created us, who has called us, and who has offered salvation to
If we keep our focus clear, we are less likely to become distracted. If we know who we
are and whose we are, we can learn to become "Principle Centered" and allow the
will of God to be the basis of our decision-making rather than the next thing in front of
us that we may be tempted to peck at.
As most of you know by now, music is important to me. Music often will carry me through
when nothing else seems to be working. So I also want to offer a song to you today, a song
that may help you keep your focus during Lent . . .
Turn Your Eyes upon Jesus
Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace.