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COMPASSION 29

CHRIST'S COMPASSION LIKENED TO A HEN'S

Matthew 23:37

(cmpas29.doc)

        This is message number 29 in our series on compassion.  Before we jump back into these messages, "Why are we taking so much time studying compassion?"  Because compassion is a major attribute or characteristic of God.  A.W. Tozer said, "What comes into our minds when we thing about God is the most important thing about us.  For this reason the gravest question before the Church is always God Himself, and the most portentous fact about any man is not wht he at a given time may say or do, but what he in his deep heart conceives God to be like."

        "The problem is that most of us have such distorted images of God.  How we conceive God in our hearts and how He reveals Himself in His Word are worlds apart!!!  That is because we developed our concepts and feelings about our heavenly Father from earthly mothers, fathers, and guardians.  None of us had perfect families.  Many people have experienced parents or other family members as emotionally distant, unreliable, abusive, unrealistic in their expectations, inattentive, or abandoning.  As a result, we may see the God of the Bible through distored lenses.

        Our images of God influence us more powerfully than do our ideas or doctrinal statements about God, because images are rooted in powerful emotional experiences.

        The displacement of distorted images of God with Biblically accurate ones is not an easy process."[1]  I want to help in that process by laboring through God's revelation of Himself as a compassionate God!!!

HE DIED FOR ME

        A generous man named Jonas Brown once invited Dr. L. S. Bauman to stay in his home.  Soon after the preacher arrived in the farming community, an incident occurred which gave the man of God an opportunity to witness to his host.  He writes, "One morning before breakfast, Jonas came to my room and beckoned me to follow him.  He led me to one of the outer buildings where a hen sat on a nest with a brood of chickens peeking out from under her wings.  'Touch her,' Jonas said, 'she's stone dead!  Look at that wound in her head.  A weasel sucked all the blood from her body, and she never once moved for fear the little beast would get her chicks.'  Just a few days before, Jonas' wife had asked me to join her in praying for his conversion, and I had been hunting for some illustration to make plain the importance of the Savior's sacrifice, which he could not seem to grasp.


        Now I saw my opportunity.  'O Jonas,' I said, 'that was just like Christ.  He endured all that suffering on the cross on behalf of us sinners.  He could have moved, but He wouldn't because you and I were under His wings.  If He had saved himself, we would have been lost.'  The Lord used those simple comments to convict that farmer of his need.  A few more words from the Scripture and Jonas, enlightened by the Holy Spirit, knelt on the floor of the hen house and gave his heart to Christ."

        This illustration was not only true to life and practical, it was biblical.  Jesus likens Himself to a hen in Matthew 23:37 and Luke 13:34.  Turn to Matthew 23:37 with me please.  Would follow along in your Bibles as I read this aloud for us.

        Notice God's passion and pleading.  We have learned that our God is a compassionate God.  As such He depicts Himself not only as a father, but as a mother.  Since Jesus is the second subsistence of the triune God, He is God!  Since He is God, He also as to His nature is compassionate and motherly.  Jesus also depicts Himself as a mother, by using the metaphor of a hen gathering her chicks.

        "A metaphor is a figure of speech in which one thing or class of things is referred to as if it belonged to another class."[2]  Metaphors are so common that many times we take them for granted.  We say "Don't sit on the `arm of the chair.'"  Everybody knows that chairs don't have real arms, but this metaphor has been employed for so long that it is no longer considered a metaphor.  There are famous metaphors like Shakespeare's line from As You Like It:  "All the world's a stage."  And so we have here a beautiful metaphor of Christ as a hen.

        "There is no creature that is moved with so much compassion towards her young ones, as the Hen.  And likewise, the Lord Jesus was moved with the greatest compassion imaginable towards the poor Jews and Jerusalem, which He was first sent to, and came to seek and to save.  This is signified abundantly by that wonderful passion, that seized upon His Spirit, when he came near the city, and by his expressions in this text."[3]

        Remember that compassion is "a deep feeling for and an understanding of suffering with an accompanying desire to relieve that suffering"  (Webster's Third New International Dictionary).  We shall see that Jesus had a deep feeling for and understanding of the suffering of His people plus a desire to relieve that suffering, as we survey the characteristics of the hen.


(Let's explore the compassion of Jesus in this metaphor by listing:)

I.      WAYS THAT CHRIST'S COMPASSION IS LIKE THE HEN'S.

1.      The Hen Defends Her Chicks.

"The Hen is observed to fly in the very face of ravenous birds who try to destroy her chickens; she strives to save and defend them with all her might, and even her life."[4]  This is true not only of birds, but of any predator.  When my brother and I were small children, we encountered the fierceness of the mother hen, and she was formidable indeed!

        "Jesus faced the greatest enemies, even the devil himself, to save and defend His offspring of Israel and the Church."[5]

A SAFE RETREAT

        A preacher stayed one night in a farmer's home while on an evangelistic tour, and early the next morning he observed a very practical illustration.  Writing about the many valuable lessons to be learned from nature, he said, "I sat looking at a brood of chicks as they trailed behind their mother.  She kept clucking loudly to attract her young as she scratched for food.  At first the little ones just watched her, but soon they began to follow her example.  Suddenly a strange dog appeared.  With a deep growl he leaped over a small fence and ran toward them in a threatening manner.  The mother hen glared fiercely at the intruder, and frightened him by her actions.  The little chicks quickly ran to her side and found a place of safety beneath her wings.  Peeking out with a defiant and impudent look, they seemed to be saying, 'You'll never be able to get us here, you big hound!'  The dog turned and ran, but the young ones stayed where they were for a long time, content in their place of refuge.  As I watched the scene, I was reminded of a comforting truth.  We who belong to Christ can also find rest and blessed security beneath His wings.  We are sheltered by His love, and the forces of darkness cannot harm us if we put our trust in Him!"

(Christ's compassions is also like the hen's in that:)


2.      The Hen Is Very Affectionate.

"A hen shows such great affection towards her young ones, that being affected with their weakness, she also is made weak."[6]

        "Christ, that he might save poor perishing sinners, by taking man's nature upon Him, was made weak in the same sense, as it is said he became poor:  such was the greatness of His love and affections towards us, that `He bore our sicknesses, and carried our sorrows,' Isaiah 53:4.  To what extremity of faintness was he brought, when `he sweat as it were great drops of blood!'  And when the ponderous cross was laid upon Him, as they led him to Golgotha, it is said, `He fainted,' Luke 22:44.  He was touched with the feeling of our infirmities, being made like to us in all things, except for sin,' Hebrews 4:15."[7]

(Alright, let's go on.  Christ's compassion is also like the hen's in that:)

3.      The Hen Calls To Her Chicks.

"The Hen clucks often, and with a mournful voice, as it were, calls her chickens to her, when she perceives they are in danger by the hawk, or any other enemy, of being destroyed."[8]

"UNDER HIS WINGS

        Have you ever observed a mother hen looking after her young?  If she sees a hawk circling overhead, she instinctively gives a warning sound, and immediately the baby chicks come running to hide beneath her wings.  When menacing storm clouds fill the sky with rolling thunder and jagged lightning, she quickly makes a noise that beckons her brood to herself where they find protection from the elements.  As night approaches and the shadows lengthen, she gives a quiet call that gathers her young to rest.


        "Christ calls to poor and helpless and impenitent sinners very often, with a mournful voice, and tears in His eyes."[9]

John 7:37-38, "Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, `If any man is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink.  He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, "From his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water."'"

THE VALUE OF ZEALOUS TEARS

        A. J. Gordon says, "The sincere milk of the Word may be dispensed so frigidly and unfeelingly as to make it hard to receive.  I'm told that in Siberia the milkmen often deliver their products in chunks, not in containers, because it is frozen solid.  This is sometimes the way we are given God's Word.  It's the pure article--sound, orthodox, and unadulterated--but it is congealed into logical formulas and hardened and chilled by excessive reasonings."

But that is not the way of Christ.  He calls to us, in His Word, in a mournful, tearful, compassionate way!!!

(Christ's compassion in also like that of a hen's in that:)

4.      The Hen Is Always Ready To Receive Her Chicks.

"The Hen stands ready prepared to receive her chickens under her wings to defend them against all violence that may happen to them."[10]

        "The Lord Jesus stands with his arms and heart open, ready to receive all true penitent sinners, that come to Him."[11]

Matthew 11:28, "Come to me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest."


(Christ's compassion, again, is like that of a hen's in that:)

5.      The Hen Wants To Save Every One Of Her Chicks.

"The Hen is very desirous to gather all her chickens together, and cover them with her wings; she would not have one of them wanting."[12]

        "The Lord Jesus hath such bowels of pity and compassion to sinful mankind, that he would have none of them perish, but repent."[13]

2 Peter 3:9, "The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance."

(No, we are not done yet.  Christ's compassion is like that of a Hen's in that:)

6.      The Hen Calls Her Chicks To Feed Them.

"The Hen gathers her chicks to her; that they may have food as well as nourishment and shelter, she looks about and scratches to get them food."[14]

        "The Lord Jesus calls to sinners, that they may have the bread of life."[15]

Isaiah 55:1-2, "Ho!  Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come buy and eat.  Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.  Why do you spend your money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy?  Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, and delight yourself in abundance."

(Furthermore, Christ's compassion is like that of a hen's in that:)

7.      The Hen Revives The Weak Chicks.

"The Hen succours, refreshes, and makes lively such chicks that are weak and hang down their wings, and can scarce go; she soon revives them when she gets them under her wings."[16]


        "All sin-sick and diseased souls that are weak and hang down their heads, or their wings, and go drooping all the day, as it were, half dead, no sooner are they under the wings of Christ, but he graciously succours and refreshes them, making them brisk and very lively."[17]

Hebrews 4:15-16, "For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.  Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace in the time of need."

(And finally, Christ's compassions is like that of a hen's in that:)

8.      The Hen Sacrifices For Her Chicks.

"The Hen, it is observed, if she find any crumbs, corn, or any other good thing, she gives it to her chicks, though she wants it herself:  she spares out of her own mouth, and puts it into theirs."[18]

        "Christ gave out of His infinite bowels of mercy to His own people.  Finding that there was no other meat so good and excellent for them as His body, He gave them His very own body as food from heaven."[19]

John 6:54-56, "He who eats My Flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.  For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink.  He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him."

(We have been able to get a glimpse of the compassion of Jesus Christ in His likeness to a hen, but we must also consider:)

II.     WAYS THAT CHRIST'S COMPASSION IS DIFFERENT FROM THE HEN'S.

1.      Christ's Compassion Is Different With Respect To Defense.

"The Hen cannot save and defend her chicks under her wings, because she is weak."[20]

        "The Lord is strong and mighty to save and defend all his people that come to Him."[21]

2.      Christ's Compassion Is Different With Respect To Duration.

"The Hen no longer cares for His chicks once they are grown, but pecks at them."[22]

        "Our blessed Savior will never cease to take care of, and provide for His poor children; `Cast all your care upon Him, for he careth for you."[23]

3.      Christ's Compassion Is Different With Respect To Security.

"The Hen often loses her chicks.  The enemy gets them away from her and preys on them."[24]

        "The Lord Jesus Christ cannot, will not lose one of them that the Father has given Him."[25]

John 10:27-28, "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they shall never perish; and no one shall snatch them out of My hand."

4.      Christ's Compassion Is Different With Respect To Memory.

"A Hen soon forgets her chicks, which she has bread and brought up."[26]

Isaiah 49:15-16, "Can a woman forget her nursing child, and have no compassion on the son of her womb?  Even these may forget, but I will not forget you.  Behold, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands; Your walls are continually before Me."

        "Christ never can, nor will forget his saints."[27]


        We can hear the compassion and pathos of Jesus in the verse, "How often I wanted to gather you together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling."  Notice the fact that citizens of Jerusalem killed the prophets and stoned God's messangers.  Notice that the citizens of Jerusalem were unwilling to trust in Jesus.  When men are not saved or don't experience the compassion of Jesus Christ, it is not because of a failure of Christ's compassion, but because of the granted power of man's free moral agency.

THEY WOULDN'T LET ME!"

        Walter B. Knight tells of a woman who was trapped on the top floor of a burning building.  Flames and smoke blocked off every way of escape.  When the fire department arrived, one of the men scrambled up a ladder to the window where the lady was screaming for help, and with outstretched arms he offered to save her.  But when she looked down and saw the great distance to the ground below, she panicked and drew back into the room.  The man attempting the rescue begged her to trust him for her safety, but his pleas were not heeded.  In senseless fear she retreated beyond the fireman's reach.  Finally being forced to return to the ground, he said with tears in his eyes, "I did everything I could to save her, but she wouldn't let me!"

        Christ is still inviting all of us to come under the protection, comfort, and compassion of His mighty wings, the way a chick flees to her mother.  Will you come today?

(Now is the day of Salvation.  Come to Jesus, now!)

Invitation

Call to Discipleship


----

[1] Dale & Juanita Ryan, Distorted Images of God, Life Recovery Guides, InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, Illinois, 1990, pp. 11-12.  

[2] Columbia Encyclopedia, p. 4364.  

[3] Benjamin Keach, Preaching From The Types And Metaphors Of The Bible, Kregal Publications, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1972, p. 458.  

[4] Benjamin Keach, Preaching From The Types And Metaphors Of The Bible, Kregal Publications, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1972, p. 458.  

[5] Benjamin Keach, Preaching From The Types And Metaphors Of The Bible, Kregal Publications, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1972, p. 458.  

[6] Benjamin Keach, Preaching From The Types And Metaphors Of The Bible, Kregal Publications, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1972, p. 458.  

[7] Benjamin Keach, Preaching From The Types And Metaphors Of The Bible, Kregal Publications, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1972, p. 458.  

[8] Benjamin Keach, Preaching From The Types And Metaphors Of The Bible, Kregal Publications, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1972, pp. 458-459.  

[9] Benjamin Keach, Preaching From The Types And Metaphors Of The Bible, Kregal Publications, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1972, pp. 458-459.  

[10] Benjamin Keach, Preaching From The Types And Metaphors Of The Bible, Kregal Publications, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1972, p. 459.  

[11] Benjamin Keach, Preaching From The Types And Metaphors Of The Bible, Kregal Publications, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1972, p. 459.  

[12] Benjamin Keach, Preaching From The Types And Metaphors Of The Bible, Kregal Publications, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1972, p. 459.  

[13] Benjamin Keach, Preaching From The Types And Metaphors Of The Bible, Kregal Publications, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1972, p. 459.  

[14] Benjamin Keach, Preaching From The Types And Metaphors Of The Bible, Kregal Publications, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1972, p. 459.  

[15] Benjamin Keach, Preaching From The Types And Metaphors Of The Bible, Kregal Publications, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1972, p. 459.  

[16] Benjamin Keach, Preaching From The Types And Metaphors Of The Bible, Kregal Publications, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1972, p. 459.  

[17] Benjamin Keach, Preaching From The Types And Metaphors Of The Bible, Kregal Publications, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1972, p. 459.  

[18] Benjamin Keach, Preaching From The Types And Metaphors Of The Bible, Kregal Publications, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1972, p. 459.  

[19] Benjamin Keach, Preaching From The Types And Metaphors Of The Bible, Kregal Publications, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1972, p. 459.  

[20] Benjamin Keach, Preaching From The Types And Metaphors Of The Bible, Kregal Publications, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1972, p. 459.  

[21] Benjamin Keach, Preaching From The Types And Metaphors Of The Bible, Kregal Publications, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1972, p. 459.  

[22] Benjamin Keach, Preaching From The Types And Metaphors Of The Bible, Kregal Publications, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1972, p. 459.  

[23] Benjamin Keach, Preaching From The Types And Metaphors Of The Bible, Kregal Publications, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1972, p. 459.  

[24] Benjamin Keach, Preaching From The Types And Metaphors Of The Bible, Kregal Publications, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1972, p. 459.  

[25] Benjamin Keach, Preaching From The Types And Metaphors Of The Bible, Kregal Publications, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1972, p. 459.  

[26] Benjamin Keach, Preaching From The Types And Metaphors Of The Bible, Kregal Publications, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1972, p. 460.  

[27] Benjamin Keach, Preaching From The Types And Metaphors Of The Bible, Kregal Publications, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1972, p. 460.

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