April 10, 2017

Bitter Tears Over Jerusalem

Luke 19:41-44

As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace . . . .”

—  Luke 19:41-42

Still riding on the donkey’s colt, with cheering crowds and jubilant disciples urging him on, Jesus approached Jerusalem. The Pharisees were critical, or maybe cautious; they didn’t understand what was happening. Maybe they were thinking Jesus would try to usurp their authority. Or maybe they feared that Pilate’s soldiers would come down hard on the people for celebrating Jesus as a king.

When Jerusalem, which means “city of peace,” came into view, Jesus wept, but not as he did at Lazarus’s grave (John 11:35). This time he wept because God’s people were about to reject his Son, who was bringing them salvation (John 3:16). Despite three years of ministry in their midst and so many prophecies fulfilled, they could not see what God was doing to save his people from destruction. The Savior was bringing salvation, but they couldn’t see their guilt, even when he died for them (Romans 5:8, 10). Jesus also wept over what was coming that week, when everyone would reject him, and he wept over Jerusalem’s history of rejecting God. God had often sent messengers to remind them of his love, and finally now he sent his own Son. But they still didn’t get it.

As we walk with Jesus this week toward his crucifixion, do we get it? Can we weep with Jesus that it took his death to gain us eternal life?

O Jesus, forgive us for not getting it. You came to die so that we can live. Teach us what all this means and what it cost you. In your name, Amen.

About the author — Norman F. Brown

Chaplain Norman F. Brown graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, in 1969. He served aboard destroyers during the Vietnam conflict and ashore in San Diego, Calif., as an instructor. By then God had made clear his call to work in pastoral ministry, and Norman entered Calvin Theological Seminary, graduating in 1980. Chaplain Brown pastored churches during his ministry career but spent most of his time as a navy chaplain. During one assignment he served three years at Holy Loch, Scotland, where he and his wife, Ruth, encountered the Iona Community and their emphasis on spiritual disciplines. Chaplain and Mrs. Brown have three married children and nine grandchildren.

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