“I send you prophets, wise men, and scribes: some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from city to city, that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. Assuredly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation.
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! See! Your house is left to you desolate; for I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’ ” (Matthew 23:34–39)
In the week leading up to his crucifixion, Jesus spent time in Jerusalem teaching his disciples and the crowds. Jesus told them that he was sending them “prophets.” By saying such a thing, Jesus was affirming his deity, since only God sent prophets. Then Jesus warned the Pharisees that they were going to behave just like their ancestors had and miss God’s presence in their midst. Rather than hearing the words of the prophets, the words of the wise, the words of the scribes, they would reject those who came in the name of God and would kill them just as their ancestors had killed the earlier prophets. Abel was killed by his brother in the first book of the Old Testament (Genesis 4:8), while Zechariah, son of Berechiah was killed in the last book of the Hebrew Old Testament, (2 Chronicles 24:21).
Jesus longed to protect and shelter the people of Jerusalem, but they were choosing to ignore and reject their king, their God, Yahweh, whom they claimed to worship and serve. Consequently, they would suffer for their refusal to come under his protection, for going off on their own paths, for turning their backs on their one and only God.
God wants to take care of us and protect us. But he also gave us free will, a will that allows us to make choices both bad and good. Like baby chicks with their mother, we can huddle beneath God if only we choose to do so.