Lent 2 C 2022 Fox in the Hen House Sermon
Grace to you and peace, from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
The story of the fox in the hen house is an old story. I remember a book in the 1960’s concerning this topic, and I tried to find the book. I could not find it anywhere. Shelly suggested I try the library which I failed to do, but I did find a new book on the topic from Amazon. It is entitled: “Fox in the Hen House.”
Of course, everyone knows the plot. It is a modern-day story of an old tale concerning a fox who is obsessed with trying to break into the hen house. In the earlier version that I told you about, the farmer heard a commotion in the hen house and grabbed his shot gun and headed to the chicken coup to defend his chickens.
In the modern version, Helen the Hen comes to the rescue and saves the day. I have a copy of the book if you would like to read it.
Needless to say; I think we all know the damage a fox can do in a chicken coup. And the result is not something that should be written for children. When a fox enters a chicken coup, the chicken coup usually ends up messy and bloody. And usually, a few chickens are killed.
And so, it is easy to see what Jesus meant when He called Herod a fox and referred to Himself as a hen protecting His chicks. You don’t have to be a farmer to understand how the story ends.
Even though the chickens are saved in the children’s version of the story, in real life chickens usually end up on the short side of the stick.
Foxes are sly and smart. And they are always looking for ways to sneak in and get their prey. Perhaps this tragic image of chickens being slaughtered is meant to make us think about the violence and abuse Jesus will encounter as He makes His way to Jerusalem and is crucified on the Cross.
Of course, the villain in the text today is not someone to mess with in the real world.
We all remember Herod who married his brother’s wife, whose stepdaughter danced for him at his birthday party, and the awful events that enfolded when his stepdaughter asked for John the Baptist’s head on a platter. Herod was not a nice guy.
And he hung around with very nasty people. In my opinion, Herod himself was not the slyest fox in the group but was controlled by foxes who took the fox in the hen house story to the next level. And how was this all possible?
Herod was an insecure political leader, and he was inclined to listen to the advice of the people around him. Unfortunately, he had bad people around him. And he was what we might refer to today as a “wild card.” When Herod was with his crowd, nobody could predict his next move.
Which brings me then, to the question of why the Pharisees would warn Jesus about Herod. After all, the Pharisees were not particularly known for their great love of Jesus. And although we have a few occasions where Jesus had been invited to eat at a Pharisees home, most of the encounters Jesus had with the Pharisees were unpleasant.
Since Jesus brought a message that was counter cultural, Jesus threatened the status quo, and went against all that the Pharisees believed. Jesus was not one of their favorite people. So why did they warn Jesus about Herod?
Perhaps the Pharisees were trying to scare Jesus, since Herod was someone to be feared, and in doing so this would encourage Jesus to go elsewhere and not be a threat to their way of life. In other words, the Pharisees were trying to manipulate Jesus into doing what they wanted Him to do.
I think the Pharisees were surprised that Jesus did not act with fear and continued on with His plans. Jesus refused to run and hide. And Jesus refused to give up the mission His father had set for Him.
Our passage today speaks clearly of Christ’s courage and determination. Jesus made it perfectly clear that He would continue to care for those in need, and He sent a message back to Herod through the Pharisees stating “You go tell that fox, that untrusting and corrupt one, that I am busy doing my work of healing and when I am finished, then I will go to Jerusalem.”
Fear would not stop Jesus. Jesus had the courage to continue His mission regardless of the threats to His physical wellbeing. Jesus knew He must keep going forward and face the events in Jerusalem in accordance with God’s timing.
As we leave the sanctuary this morning, and continue our Lenten journey, let us ask ourselves what type of fear is in our lives that is attempting to control us and turn our backs to God’s Redeeming Activity in our lives.
And as we identify these fears, let us pray that God will give us the courage to stand up to those fears and stand firm in our faith.
And let us also remember Christ’s courage as He approached the Cross, and what He did for each one of us so that we might receive the forgiveness of sin, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting in God’s Kingdom.
Yes, the Fox in the Hen House is a scary event. The devil is on the prowl. But One greater than he has been sent to us. His name is Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Let us pray: God of hope, when we are troubled by fear and uncertainty, teach us to commit our lives to your care, and to trust in the knowledge of your love and forgiveness, that we ay find peace in Jesus Christ our Redeemer. Amen.