Television news loves to capture the tears of grieving people. News editors are aware that other people’s tragedies capture our attention: we are drawn to tragedy and catastrophe as long as it doesn’t affect us.
Jesus’ tears. Considering the way that news editors want to capture tears, it is striking that Luke records Jesus’ tears as he entered the city of Jerusalem on the first ‘Palm Sunday’. Luke uses a word for deep sorrow: As Jesus came near and saw the city, he wept over it… (19:41).
Earlier in his narrative Luke records Jesus’ moving lament over Jerusalem: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather you together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing” (13:34).
Jerusalem was much in Jesus’ thoughts: he knew he would die there. But his lament and his tears were not for himself. Rather, they are a vivid image of his extraordinary compassion for God’s ancient people. It was a unique opportunity for them to meet with divinity, personally.
Paradise lost. Men and women do not perish because God is just an angry God, as the movie NOAH would have us think. We only have ourselves to blame. ‘I would have gathered you as a hen would gather her chicks’, Jesus said, ‘but you were not willing.’ He may be saying the same about some of us as we read this. He offers us joy, but we casually turn our backs. He weeps with sadness, but we harden our hearts. He gives us his promise, but we confidently carry on. ‘You can choose’, Jesus says.
Knowing Jesus. Let me ask, how seriously do you treat Jesus? How well do you know him? As you prepare for Good Friday and Easter have you considered setting aside time to read Luke’s narrative of Jesus’ death and resurrection (19:41-24:53)? You may find it useful to have a readable commentary with you (at the risk of a personal reference, my commentary, Reading Luke Today: An Unexpected God is available online through Matthiasmedia (USA) – http://www.matthiasmedia.com/growth/commentaries/ or Amazon – www.amazon.com.)
Jesus wept for the lost, but he also acted. So seriously did he take our plight that he sacrificed his life for us at Calvary.
We do not have to die to reconcile people to God: Jesus has done that for us all. But what of the lost of our age? Have you ever wept for your family, friends, your community, even enemies? In every age, God’s people have.
Do you pray for family and friends? Do you look for opportunities to talk with them about the Easter story? Do you ever comment on Jesus’ words on the cross, ‘Father, forgive them,’ and ‘Today you will be with me in paradise’? And, do you long to explore with them the way Jesus’ resurrection validates all he said and did, as well as his promises about paradise restored?