A young woman who regularly attended services at a particular church, was present one evening for the mid-week service. A neighboring pastor had come that night to fill the pulpit and the message he preached was particularly enlivening.
After the sermon the pastor of the church went down the aisle and he asked the woman, “Do you not wish to profess faith in the Lord?” She modestly replied that she was afraid that she was not worthy to make such a profession.
That put the whole ordeal in a completely different light. Her eyes were opened to understand that her sins should not keep her away from Christ. He was willing to save and ready to receive her.
It is often the case that some struggle with their “worthiness.” They believe that they are not welcome because they do not think that Christ would welcome them. But it is imperative that we understand that the focus should not be on us and our sins. Our focus should be on Christ. We must see him, not as a crachety old man who is ever disappointed with us. But rather, we must see him as one who is willing to save.
I believe that is the purpose of the text that is before us this morning. Last week we talked about “how many would be saved.” And we examined Jesus’ response to that question when it was posed. And, in sum, we said that that question was rather frivolous. The real question to be asked was whether or not the fellow who posed this question was going to be saved.
And for a number of weeks we have been pounding this topic of repentance. We’ve been saying that you need to recognize that you are a sinner who has violated God’s law. By nature you do not know or love him.
And after a few weeks of this, you might be thinking to yourself, “You are right. I am a wretch. My life is not in order as it should be. How is it that Christ could ever save me?” You might begin to shy away and think that Jesus would never save such a one like you.
If you are questioning your worthiness, you must recognize that you are welcome to come to Christ. Salvation may be yours because Jesus is willing to save.
You can tell that Jesus is willing to save by how he responds to the Pharisees.
I. His response to the Pharisees shows us he is willing to save [31-33]
In verse 31 some Pharisees come up to Jesus and say, “Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you.” Now, we don’t know the motives or the whole story here. Luke doesn’t tell us all the details. We don’t know if the Pharisees are making the whole thing up or if it is really true. They could be genuinely concerned that Jesus be protected, or they could be lying just to shut Jesus up. The idea being, “If we make him think that he is threatened with death, perhaps he will stop his preaching and teaching.”
All in all, we don’t know the whole story. What we do know is how Jesus responds. In verse 32 Jesus says, “Go and tell that fox, 'Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I finish my course.’”
Essentially Jesus says, “Don’t worry Herod. You are going to get your wish. I’m going to Jerusalem and that’s where my road ends. I’m going to die there.”
He goes on in verse 33 to make it even more explicit. He says, “A prophet can’t die away from Jerusalem.”
What we are to understand is that Jesus has no mind to bail out on his mission. Back in chapter 9 we learned that Jesus had his face set towards Jerusalem. He resolved to go there. And now we see that nothing would dissuade him from this destination. Herod’s threats meant nothing to him. His purpose in life was to die and give his life up as a sacrifice to God.
Do you see him now? Is not this a demonstration of how willing he is to save? Every step he took southward was a verification of his intent to save.
If you are doubting whether or not Christ is a willing savior, this should be something that encourages you. When you see the conviction Christ has here, you should not doubt his intents.
Imagine if you were a child and you had asked to go to a ball game with your father. Your father says, “Sure I’ll take you, but first I have to finish these chores.” Now, if your father goes out and piddles around in the yard for the next hour, you would question his desire to take you. If every time you look out the window he was leaning on his shovel, chatting with a neighbor, then you would think to yourself, “I don’t know that my father wants to take me to the game. I don’t think his heart is in it.”
But if you see him out there intently going about his business, that is going to convince you that he does want to take you. If you hear him say to the neighbor, “Sorry Bob, I can’t talk now. I got to get this done.”, you would see that he is determined to go. He will not be dissuaded from the task at hand.
That is exactly what we see happening here. Jesus will not let any threats deter him. For him it is going to be business as usual and there are going to be no unnecessary pits stops along the way.
If you question whether or not Jesus is willing to save you, then the response Jesus gives to these Pharisees should serve as a confirmation that he most certainly will.
And what he says in the next verse should bolster your confidence too. In verse 34 we see him grieving over Jerusalem. And what he says reveals the depths of his compassion and his desire to save.
II. His grief over Jerusalem shows he is willing to save. 
He begins by saying, “Jerusalem, Jerusalem” The repetition is for the purpose of empathy, like when he says, “Martha, Martha.” “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to you.” You can hear his heart breaking as he says this.
Then he likens himself to a hen who gathers her brood of chicks under her wings. That is a sweet picture. A mother hen is very particular when it comes to her chicks. At night, she gathers them close to keep them warm and protect them from predators. When there is danger, maybe a storm, the mother bird will pulls her chicks close and spread her wings over them so that they may have a safe refuge. It is an act of pure love.
And Jesus says that’s exactly what he longed to do to his people, rebellious as they were! Despite how obstinate they were—despite how much they refused to come to him and heed his word, he cherished them. He loved them and deeply yearned for them. But they would not.
When you hear these words you have to understand how the Lord takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked. We should understand that it grieves Christ when his offer of grace and salvation is repudiated.
This might be a shock to some of you. I understand that there is a strand of Calvinism that takes a rather stoic attitude towards the lost. They think that God is unmoved when his grace and salvation are rejected. And some Calvinist themselves tend to be rather cold when it comes to this issue. They’ll even put it in sterile terminology saying, “They are reprobates and they are just getting what they deserve.”
There may be some truth to what is said there. They may well be getting their just deserts. Just because they are reprobate, does not mean that God delights in their damnation or is indifferent towards their rebellion.
We see here that the Lord earnestly desires that men would embrace this offer and enter into a state of salvation.
And if you are hear and you are thinking, “I’m not sure that Christ would ever save me,” then you need to hear this. Christ is grieved by those who refuse him. He would much prefer it if you would come to him.
Later on in our study, if we get that far, Jesus tells the parable of the lost coin and the lost sheep. Both stories present something that is lost, a picture of a sinner who is lost in his sin. And both stories talk about a diligent search that is made for those items. The coin is sought by a woman. The sheep is sought by the shepherd. The woman sweeps the whole house looking for the coin. She will leave no part of the house unturned until it is in her possession again. The shepherd leaves the 99 sheep and risks life and limb to find the one that had strayed. At the end of both stories it says, “There is great rejoicing in heaven over the one sinner that repents.”
The woman and the shepherd are the Lord Jesus, and he rejoices greatly—his joy cascades in overwhelming proportions because that one is saved.
You cannot doubt that Jesus is willing to save sinners. Whether his heart is filled with grief at one’s rebellion or joy at their turning to him, both testify that Jesus is ready at any given moment to receive a sinner.
But it is not only displayed in how he responds to the Pharisees and in how he grieves over Jerusalem. His readiness to save is also seen in how he talks about his second advent.
III. His reference to his return shows he is willing 
In verse 35 Jesus prophesies that there will be a time when he reappears.
He begins by saying, “your house is forsaken.” He is describing the state of Israel here. They were a people who had turned from the Lord. As a result, the Lord was turning from them. They had forsaken God. Now he was turning upon them.
But Jesus goes on to say, “You will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’” Now, what is this referring to? You know that when Jesus went up to Jerusalem that they began to sing this Psalm. We recognize it as Palm Sunday, when he rode the donkey into Jerusalem. But that cannot be what Jesus is referring to here. He never hid himself. He was always seen and conducted a very public ministry all through this time.
This is why most commentators believe this is a reference to his second coming. After he is resurrected, he will not be seen for a certain amount of time. He will not be seen until they say, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.”
Now there are many who think that this is a reference to when he comes again and how everyone, whether believing or unbelieving, will acknowledge him as Lord. Because of his majesty and the fullness of his power being manifested on that last glorious day, everyone will acknowledge him as Lord. Some will do it joyfully, others, because they are unbelieving, will do it out of coercion.
Other people think that this is a reference to a time when there will be a mass conversion of Jews, just prior to Christ’s return. They think that Jesus is saying, “Jerusalem, even though you are a wicked and rebellious people now, someday you will turn to me en masse. And when you do I will appear in the sky, and you will begin to sing this Psalm with joy in your hearts.”
I tend to lean towards the latter interpretation. I think that fits with the flow of the discourse. Is Jesus willing to save? Absolutely! As a matter of fact, he will save! There will be a multitude of people who end up delighting in his coming.
But whichever interpretation you take, one thing is clear. There will be an interval of time where Jesus will allow sinners to hear the gospel. And that’s where we are right now.
The coming of Christ is still on the horizon, and he still allows you time to come to him and be saved. If you want to be one of that number who is saved—among those who say with a joyful heart, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord”, then you should know that Jesus affords you that opportunity right now. He is willing to save.
My children sometimes dawdle in their chores, particularly with doing the dishes after dinner. And sometimes we will have to use some motivation to get them to do it. From time to time we will hold off on having dessert (kind of like holding their dessert ransom). My wife will set the timer on the oven. She’ll say, “Okay. I’m giving you 10 minutes to get these done. When the timer goes off, I’m going to come and see if you’re done. If you are, you can have your dessert.
At this point, my children have two options. They can either believe my wife’s promise or they can completely disregard everything she said. But they have exactly 10 minutes to do so, for the moment she comes back, the time is up.
When this is done, they never just sit there and wonder, “Will mommy give me my dessert?” No, they believe that she is coming back and they trust that she will make good on her promise.
That is what you must do too. Jesus is coming back. He has made a promise that he is ready to save. You need only believe that he will return and trust that he will make good on his promise.
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Matt is blessed to be a husband, father, and pastor in Ashland, Ohio.