GOSPEL READING: Luke 19:41-44
41 And when he drew near and saw the city he wept over it, 42 saying, “Would that even today you knew the things that make for peace! But now they are hid from your eyes. 43 For the days shall come upon you, when your enemies will cast up a bank about you and surround you, and hem you in on every side, 44 and dash you to the ground, you and your children within you, and they will not leave one stone upon another in you; because you did not know the time of your visitation.”
Meditation: What enables us to live in peace and harmony with our families, neighbors, local communities, and the wider community of peoples and nations? The Father in heaven sent his only begotten Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to reconcile us with God and to unite us with one another in a bond of peace and mutual love.
Jesus’ earthly ministry centers and culminates in Jerusalem, which Scripture describes as the holy city, the throne of the Lord (Jeremiah 3:17);and the place which God chose for his name to dwell there (1 Kings 11:13; 2 Kings 21:4; 2 Kings 23:27); and the holy mountain upon which God has set his king (Psalm 2:6). Jerusalem derives its name from the word “salem” which mean “peace”. The temple in Jerusalem was a constant reminder to the people of God’s presence with them.
Tears of mourning and sorrow over sin and refusal to believe in God
When Jesus approached Jerusalem and saw the multitude of homes surrounding the holy temple, he wept over it because it inhabitants did not “know the things that make for peace” (Luke 19:42). As he poured out his heart to the Father in heaven, Jesus shed tears of sorrow, grief, and mourning for his people.He knew that he would soon pour out his blood for the people of Jerusalem and for the whole world as well.
Why does Jesus weep and lament over the city of Jerusalem? Throughout its history, many of the rulers and inhabitants – because of their pride and unbelief – had rejected the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. Now they refuse to listen to Jesus who comes as their Messiah – whom God has anointed to be their Savior and Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6).
Jesus is our only hope – the only one who can save us and the world
Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem was a gracious visitation of God’s anointed Son and King to his holy city. Jerusalem’s lack of faith and rejection of the Messiah, however, leads to its eventual downfall and destruction by the Romans in 70 A.D. Jesus’ lamentation and prophecy echoes the lamentation of Jeremiah who prophesied the first destruction of Jerusalem and its temple. Jeremiah’s prayer of lamentation offered a prophetic word of hope, deliverance, and restoration:
“But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies are new every morning …For the Lord will not cast off for ever, but, though he cause grief, he will have compassion according to the abundance of his steadfast love for he does not willingly afflict or grieve the sons of men” (Lamentations 3:21-22, 31-32).
Jesus is the hope of the world because he is the only one who can truly reconcile us with God and with one another. Through his death and resurrection Jesus breaks down the walls of hostility and division by reconciling us with God. He gives us his Holy Spirit both to purify us and restore us as a holy people of God. Through Jesus Christ we become living temples of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19). God has visited his people in the past and he continues to visit us through the gift and working of his Holy Spirit. Do you recognize God’s gracious visitation of healing and restoration today?
God judges, pardons, heals, and restores us to new life
When God visits his people he comes to establish peace and justice by rooting out our enemies – the world (which stands in opposition to God), the flesh (our own sinful cravings and inordinate desires), and the devil (who is Satan, the father of lies and a murderer from the beginning – John 8:44) who enslave us to fear and pride, rebellion and hatred, envy and covetousness, strife and violence, and every form of evil and wrong-doing. That is why God both judges and purifies his people – to lead us from our sinful ways to his way of justice, peace, love, and holiness. God actively works among his people to teach us his ways and to save us from the destruction of our own pride and sin and from Satan’s snares and lies.
Are God’s judgments unjust or unloving? Scripture tells us that “when God’s judgments are revealed in the earth, the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness” (Isaiah 26:9). To pronounce judgment on sin is much less harsh than what will happen if those who sin are not warned to repent. The Lord in his mercy gives us grace and time to turn away from sin, but that time is right now. If we delay, even for a moment, we may discover that grace has passed us by and our time is up. Do you accept the grace to turn away from sin and to walk in God’s way of peace and holiness?
Lord Jesus, you have visited and redeemed your people. May I not miss the grace of your visitation today as you move to bring your people into greater righteousness and holiness of life. Purify my heart and mind that I may I understand your ways and conform my life more fully to your will.
Psalm 50:1-2,5-6, 23
1 The Mighty One, God the LORD, speaks and summons the earth from the rising of the sun to its setting.
2 Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God shines forth.
5 “Gather to me my faithful ones, who made a covenant with me by sacrifice!”
6 The heavens declare his righteousness, for God himself is judge!
14 Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving, and pay your vows to the Most High;
15 and call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.”
Daily Quote from the Early Church Fathers: Jesus fulfills the beatitude for those who weep, by Origen of Alexandria (185-254 AD)
“When our Lord and Savior approached Jerusalem, he saw the city and wept… By his example, Jesus confirms all the Beatitudes that he speaks in the Gospel. By his own witness, he confirms what he teaches. ‘Blessed are the meek,’ he says. He says something similar to this of himself: ‘Learn from me, for I am meek.’ ‘Blessed are the peacemakers.’ What other man brought as much peace as my Lord Jesus, who ‘is our peace,’ who ‘dissolves hostility’ and ‘destroys it in his own flesh’ (Ephesians 2:14-15). ‘Blessed are those who suffer persecution because of justice.’
“No one suffered such persecution because of justice as did the Lord Jesus, who was crucified for our sins. The Lord therefore exhibited all the Beatitudes in himself. For the sake of this likeness, he wept, because of what he said, ‘Blessed are those who weep,’ to lay the foundations for this beatitude as well. He wept for Jerusalem and said,’If only you had known on that day what meant peace for you! But now it is hidden from your eyes,’ and the rest, to the point where he says, ‘Because you did not know the time of your visitation'” (excerpt from HOMILY ON THE GOSPEL OF LUKE 38.1-2)