Life contains many distressing realities. One distressing reality arises when we try to protect someone we care about from danger. When we see a dangerous situation, warn the person, and he or she reacts by (a) seeing no danger and (b) ignoring our concern, we are genuinely distressed. That situation is a recipe for disaster.

Virgin Falls Years ago we took a good friend to visit our families. My mother wanted to take us on a long wilderness hike to a unique place called Virgin Falls. Virgin Falls is a waterfall where there is no stream, no river. The water flows out of a huge rock cave at the top of a mountain, falls over a rock ledge, and disappears over a hundred feet below at the base of the ledge.

copperhead The only way to get to Virgin Falls was to walk a trail through wilderness woodland for several miles. As we walked the trail, our son Kevin led the way. Suddenly he took a long leap, turned around, and shouted, "Snake!" Stretching across the path was a copperhead, a poisonous snake. Our friend laughed like it was a big joke designed to scare him. Because the snake was the color of the trail, and because our friend was not accustomed to watching for snakes, he could not see it.

It took all our powers of persuasion to convince him not to continue walking and step on the snake. The danger was very real, but, to him, there was no danger.

  1. The frustration we experience when we try to help someone and have our concern rejected is devastating.
    1. Without exception, every adult here knows that frustration.
      1. Sometimes it is a very dear friend who misunderstands and rejects our help.
      2. Sometimes it is a spouse who misunderstands and rejects our help.
      3. Sometimes it is our child who misunderstands and rejects our help.
      4. Sometimes it is our parent who misunderstand and rejects our help.
      5. Sometimes it is our Christian brother or sister who misunderstands and rejects our help.
    2. Most of the teens here know that frustration, and you teens who have not yet experienced this frustration will.
      1. Typically, teens know how to care about a peer's well being deeply.
      2. Typically, teens are committed to "being there" for a struggling peer.
      3. Typically, teens commonly grasp the concept of unconditional love.
      4. The combination of those awarenesses definitely will produce the experience of seeking to help someone who refuses to be helped.
    3. God knows that frustration of trying to help those who reject His concern; having helpfulness rejected is far more than a mere human experience.
      1. God worked for thousands of years to produce the perfect means for us to deal with our most serious problem, the problem that easily destroys us.
      2. That serious problem that seeks to destroy each of us is the evil within us.
      3. God worked for thousands of years to provide us a means of escaping evil.
    4. God even sent Jesus as flesh and blood into our world to show us how to escape evil's destruction.
      1. The people Jesus lived among could have and should have understood what he was trying to do, but they did not.
      2. Basically, they considered Jesus the problem instead of the solution.
      3. The understandings Jesus shared came directly from God, but those understandings were "too different"--many people could not even think the way Jesus thought.
      4. Just days before his execution, Jesus voiced his frustration, the frustration of (a) wanting to help people escape destruction, (b) of having the ability to provide that escape, and (c) of the people not seeing the danger.
      5. See if you can hear his frustration:
        Matthew 23:37-39 Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling. Behold, your house is being left to you desolate! For I say to you, from now on you will not see Me until you say, "Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!"

    Reflect on Jesus' frustration with us when we ignore his help, when he spreads his wings to cover us, and we refuse to take shelter. Reflect on this by singing. As you sing, focus on the words. First, we will sing a song that should touch the hearts of those who "go through motions." Second, we will sing a song that should touch tender hearts. Then we will sing our gratitude and awareness. The song leader will lead these songs from the pew. The words of each song will be on the screen.

    792 "My Eyes Are Dry"
    794 "Unto Thee O Lord"
    801 "Where No One Stands Alone"

  2. Jesus used a well known image then that many of today have never known.
    1. Baby chicks are hatched with several forms of awareness including these two: awareness of the need for protection, and awareness of the meaning of mama's warning clucks.
      1. Baby chickens have no awareness of the dangers of a hawk, but hawks love to eat baby chickens.
        1. Were it merely a contest between baby chickens and hawks, the hawks would win 100% of the time.
        2. But mama hen knows about hawks.
        3. Mama hen recognizes a hawk soaring above looking for a meal.
      2. When mama hen is aware that a hawk is near, she begins clucking. mother hen protecting her young
        1. Her short feathers stand on end making her appear bigger than she is.
        2. She moves in a slow strut ruffling her wings and clucking her warning, letting all her chicks run under her for refuge.
        3. She literally places herself between the soaring hawk and her babies.
    2. Jesus wanted to do the same thing for the people of Israel and the inhabitants of Jerusalem.
      1. He wanted to shelter them from danger.
      2. He wanted to rescue them, to make their destruction unnecessary.
      3. He wanted to deliver them from the consequences of Israel's past faithlessness.
      4. But faithlessness won; they would not listen to him.

  3. Do you listen to his warnings? Do you keep yourself under his protection?
    1. Jesus wanted to do the same thing the hen did.
      1. The hen placed herself between the danger and her chicks.
      2. Jesus wanted to place himself between the danger and the residents of Jerusalem.
      3. Jesus wants to place himself between the danger and you.
    2. That is what Jesus did for us when he died on the cross: he placed himself between us and the evil that will destroy us.
      1. He literally died to give us the opportunity to live.
      2. Only his blood can rescue us from the destruction of evil.
    3. To me, most people misunderstand God's joy at Jesus' birth.
      1. God knew long before Jesus' birth the only way evil could be defeated was through Jesus' death and resurrection.
      2. When the heavenly hosts declared to the shepherds the night of Jesus' birth,
        (Luke 2:14) "Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased,"
        what was that about?
        1. It was about God keeping His promise.
        2. It was about finding peace in the shelter of the one who would die for us.

When we, in our minds and hearts, see Jesus dying on the cross, we see an disturbing, repelling sight. There is nothing appealing about a dying body on a cross.

But when we see in the dying Jesus our rescue, our shelter from evil, the complete meaning of his dying body on the cross changes.

Jesus knows the danger threatening to destroy you and calls you just as the mother hen calls her chicks when there is danger. Do you hear him calling? How do you react?

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Morning Sermon, 23 December 2001

 Link to next sermon

 Link to other Writings of David Chadwell