As a Hen Gathers Her Brood

brown and black hen with peep of chick outdoor
Photo by Quang Nguyen Vinh on


Reading the Word

Matthew 23:37–39 (ESV)

37 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! 38 See, your house is left to you desolate. 39 For I tell you, you will not see me again, until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’ ”

Parallel Text: Luke 13:34-35

Understanding and Applying the Word

After pronouncing woes on the Pharisees and scribes in the previous verses, Jesus laments over the people of Israel. Jerusalem was the city chosen by God to make his presence specially known to his people through the temple and the worship surrounding it. It was the place, more than any other, that was centered on the word of God and was the pride of the nation because it was the city of the Lord.

Jerusalem, the city of God, had become the city that killed the prophets. The people had closed their ears to the word of God and rejected those God had sent to speak to them. As a result, city and the people would be judged. Jesus proclaimed, “How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!” In these words we see the Lord’s compassion for the people in the pronouncement of judgment. We also see Jesus’ claim to be more than just another prophet. He claimed to be the one who had been desiring to gather the people. e sent the prophets who had been rejected and now he had also been rejected.

Jesus’ last words look forward to a future time when the people of God will be gathered together and will be in the presence of Jesus. Christ will one day come again and believers from every tribe and nation will be gathered to be with him for eternity. In that day, it will be those who have heard the prophetic word of the written Scriptures and responded in faith who will be gathered together under the wings of Christ. Even now, Jesus calls to us with compassion and desires for us to find shelter in him. Will you go to him?

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