There’s something really cool that happens later in chapter 13 of the book of Luke that I want to dive into today. Jesus is being confronted by some local religious leaders, and it leads him to cry out over Jerusalem.
Luke 13:34 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones God’s messengers! How often I have wanted to gather your children together as a hen protects her chicks beneath her wings, but you wouldn’t let me.
There’s something here that I want to get into, but before we do I’m really just fascinated with the way Jesus spoke this. As you read these words, it almost feels more like a direct quote from God rather than the words of Jesus. I did some extra research because I thought that Jesus was quoting from Isaiah or something here, but these are his own words. It’s this moment where you see the perfect synergy of Jesus and God, can feel exactly what was in their hearts. I find there to be such a beauty in this moment as Jesus drives home the heart-cry of God for His people.
I also love this because it shows something that is important to me to always show. People have such a wrong impression and idea of who God was in the Old Testament. People will hear or learn about these few moments of judgment that are not able to be fully understood out of context and then they’ll get this idea of an angry, vengeful God. But what Jesus is saying here in Luke is no different than what God was saying Himself generations and generations prior.
Hosea 6:6-7 I want you to show love, not offer sacrifices. I want you to know me more than I want burnt offerings. 7 But like Adam, you broke my covenant and betrayed my trust.
There are few verses more important than this one, because it shows clearly what God’s heart is, Old or New Testament. For Him it was never about the tradition and the ritual, He wanted relationship. He wanted to gather His children together. God never changes. If you’ve got a problem with Old Testament God then I’ve got news for you, you’ve got a problem with current God. Yes, Jesus brought along a new sacrifice for our sins, He paid the heavy price for our sins and that’s a beautiful thing I’m eternally thankful for, but that didn’t change who God is. God’s still a God of relationship and love, and He’s still a God of justice and order. He is the dad who sometimes has no choice but to punish the kids, especially when they so deeply and consistently set themselves against his loving and wise instruction and direction. Jesus says it right there in Luke, he tried to gather and protect them but they wouldn’t let him.
Foundationally, I think we have to understand who God is and also who God isn’t. God’s not the adversary. He’s not chasing down sinners so He can grab them by the shirt and toss them into hell. That’s the opposite of His motivation.
2 Peter 3:9 The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.
1 Timothy 2:3-4 This is good and pleases God our Savior, 4 who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth.
Yes, if you’re not living for God, then He is in a relentless pursuit of you. But that’s only because He sees the cliff you’re running toward and desperately wants to grab you and save you before you go over the edge. No wise creator would ever make something beautiful with the intention of destroying it. If God was just going to toss you into hell all along, why’d He waste all that time lovingly crafting you? We are His masterpieces in progress, lovingly crafted by His hand, and the last thing, the absolute, without a doubt, last thing He desires is to see us lost forever in the fire of hell.
I speak with absolute confidence about the character of God because I made it my mission in life to learn who He is. And guess what, we serve a God you can get to know. Not everything, He is an infinite being who is mysterious and strange and awe-inspiring, but the stuff that matters, the heart of who He is, that’s found in your Bible. Start on page 1, end on page 2000 or so, and there you have it. God. His heart, His love for all people, His plan for salvation and eternal joy for His kids. If only people would let Him do it.
I don’t live in a vacuum and I like to think I’m not naive. I know that on the surface things like the flood, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah and other judgments we see in the Old Testament can be hard to understand. Like anything, it comes down to trust. If a stranger tells me “I broke the window on your car but I had to in order to save my life” I’d think they were complete liars who were probably trying to rob me. If my best friend said the same thing, I’d have questions, sure, but I would trust that if they said what happened was necessary, then it must’ve been necessary. The only way to build that trust in God, the kind of trust you need in order to accurately defend and explain Him to others, is to dedicate yourself to getting to know Him. That means a study of the Bible, the text He left us so we could get to know Him. If you want to understand the flood you have to not only study the Bible, but you have to trust that when God says the whole world had turned wicked, then it’s not an estimation He made, it’s a fact. Everything I know about God’s character shows that whenever He can He defaults to mercy, so the times when He can’t I trust that He did all He could, that if possible He would’ve relented. Building that trust in God also means prayer, it means time in His presence.
God’s heart is beautiful and it is motivated always by love. It grieves me when people have such a wrong understanding of who God is, because often times they view Him as the exact things that He isn’t and think they’ve got His character pegged. Who’s going to stand up for who He truly is? Who’s going to tell these people about the beautiful verses in Luke and Hosea that we read today, the beautiful verses in 2 Peter and 1 Timothy that we read today? Beautiful things deserve to be seen and known. Help make the true heart of God known to a world that desperately needs to know it.
I sure do love you guys. Thanks so much for being a part of this Bible study with me, it’s a real joy to share it. I’ll be back on Monday as our long study of Luke continues!
If you’ve got a prayer request or need someone to talk to, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.