“Confronting Indifference” Luke 13:31-35
Delivered to Church for the Highlands by John Henson
Second Sunday of Lent, February 21, 2015
“I don’t care.” That’s a response I often used when my parents would warn me pending consequences of my actions. One time they told me I would be grounded for a week for something I did. “I don’t care” is what I said and another week of being grounded is what I got. This back and forth continued and I soon was unable to leave my room for my freshman year of high school. My dad would tell me the worst thing a person could ever say was “I don’t care.” I knew that at the time and knew that I should care about whatever it was; I just didn’t. I was either too immature or too rebellious to give a rip. The times I said and meant it fortunately didn’t last too long and I grew out of the funk I was in. I was also fortunate to have a father who warn me about the consequences of indifference—whether it was to my grades, my relationships, or my car.
Today, we are fortunate to have words of wisdom provided by our Father, ones we remembered recently from the Mount of Transfiguration as God spoke about Jesus to Peter, James, and John: “This is my Son, my Beloved, listen to him.” In other words, don’t be indifferent to him and his message. Listen with all of your might, for doing so brings life and world-changing consequences. In our text for today, Luke 13:31-35, Jesus encounters indifference. When the Pharisees tell him not to go to Jerusalem because King Herod wanted to kill him, he seems to indicate his awareness of this danger but also laments the general state of indifference of the city to him; of those who had no interest in listening to God’s message for them. And so he says, “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!” God had sent them one prophet after another to tell them they were headed in the wrong direction, but they refused to listen.
The significant part of Jesus’s lament, however, is his statement of concern for Jerusalem, one intensely feminine and tender. Like a hen who gathers and protects her chicks, so Jesus has been trying to gather them and protect them from the wrong ideas and direction of people like Herod. Rene Girard points out, “To the image of Herod as a fox Jesus juxtaposes not the Lion of Judah but a hen protecting her chicks under her wings. Jesus, “the Messiah of God,” will not protect his people through a greater sacred violence. He will sacrifice himself to the violence, letting the fox get sated on him.” Even to people who care nothing for him, Jesus maintains attentive care and unconditional love.
Former Secretary of State Madeline Albright shared what Elie Wiesel, Holocaust survivor and author, said one time she was on a panel with him not long after 9/11,
He asked us to name the unhappiest character in the Bible. Some said Job, because of the trials he endured. Some said Moses, because he was denied entry into the Promised Land. Some said Mary, because she witnessed the crucifixion of her son. Wiesel said he believed the right answer was God, because of the pain he must surely feel in seeing us fight, kill, and abuse each other in the Lord’s name.
How true this must be. And yet God continues to pursue us.
What we must realize today is that we, as a people of God in this world, still often show indifference to what God has to say to us. As followers of Jesus, we recognize that he has come to give the most authoritative word of God and in the most special way. And yet we, at times, show the same kind of indifference that Jerusalem did to him and the prophets who came before him. We might dress up our indifference better than they did, hearing his words and bearing his name yet living in this world as though we heard but didn’t listen; as though we bear his name but not his cross. During this season of Lent, we are invited by these words to turn to Jesus and away from our indifference.
What will this look like in our lives? How can we become people who aren’t indifferent to Jesus? One way to start is continuing what we committed to last Sunday: daily intake of Scripture by hearing it, reading it, and memorizing it. Another way is by taking time for reflection on what God is saying to us. We full well know that this time won’t happen unless we schedule it. When will you take time to reflect this way during this next week? Why not go ahead today and carve out some time on your calendar, making an appointment with just you and God? Don’t have time for it this week? Think of the significance it will make in your life when you quit running off and allow Jesus to save you by gathering you under his protective wings of compassion and love.
We can also show our interest in Jesus by practicing what he preached; doing what he did; loving the way he loved, forgiving the way he forgave, confronting the way he confronted, challenging the way he challenged, speaking the way he spoke, thinking the way he thought, walking the way he walked, healing the way he healed, dying the way he died, and rising the way he rose.
One of the most popular emoticons/emojis people use in their text messages to one another is the one expressing “ok” or “I got it.” It is an easy and efficient way to communicate back to someone that you understand their message or point.
When we turn to Jesus and act on his message, we show God and our world that we are anything but indifferent; we show we understand Jesus; that we “got it.”
FOR THE AUDIO OF THE SERMON, CLICK HERE
 Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, in a talk given to Yale Divinity School in March 2004 (Bill White: Paramount, CA)