In Matthew 23, Jesus says, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!”
In this scripture Jesus compares himself to a hen gathering her chicks under her wings. He expresses a great desire to gather the people of Jerusalem under his protective wings. His neutral observation of their choice to kill the prophets is interesting. Their choice doesn’t have to be our choice.
A short time after his death on the cross Jesus appears to the people in the Americas who have been taught by prophets that he will come to earth and atone for their sins. They don’t get to see him during his time in Jerusalem but after his death, he goes to these people, his “other sheep.” (John 10:16) Of note, he says the same thing about gathering them like chicks.
“And again, how oft would I have gathered you as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, yea, O ye people of the house of Israel, who have fallen; yea, O ye people of the house of Israel, ye that dwell at Jerusalem, as ye that have fallen; yea, how oft would I have gathered you as a hen gathereth her chickens, and ye would not.” (3 Nephi 10:5)
The instinctive protection of a mother bird is illustrated in this story. After the 1988 wildfire that destroyed most of Yellowstone National Park, volunteers were sent in on foot to look for any animals that survived. A volunteer saw the charred remains of a mother bird on the ground with her wings outstretched. He nudged her carcass with his boot and discovered three baby chicks underneath who had survived. She died so that they would live.
Christ died so that we would live. He sacrificed his body to protect us. His outstretched arms beckon us to come. If we put our faith in his invitation to “Come unto me” (Matt 11:28) his strength will protect our marriages, our children and our sanity. Faith in him is testing out his advice on our problems, humbly accepting his timing, aligning our wills with his Father’s will and doing our best to go the second mile.