Reading: Luke 19.41-44
As Jesus came near Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, ‘If you, even you, had only recognized on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. Indeed, the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up ramparts around you and surround you, and hem you in on every side. They will crush you to the ground, you and your children within you, and they will not leave within you one stone upon another; because you did not recognize the time of your visitation from God.’
Having just considered Jesus’ parable about preparing to face the moment of judgement at the end of all time, today we see the urgency of that message manifested in Jesus’ reaction to seeing Jerusalem lying before him. Throughout the gospel narrative Jesus is journeying towards this moment. He is coming to Jerusalem, the heart of Judaism, to be arrested, condemned and crucified by those he came to bring closer to God. Jesus is aware of what lies before him and, as he stands looking at the great city of Jerusalem sprawled out before him, he wept. We do not know whether those tears gently trickled down his cheeks, or whether they came in an emotional outpouring. Whatever the reality may have been, Jesus wept.
Jesus was fully conversant with Jewish history and the Jewish scriptures (our Old Testament). Jesus knew the significance of Jerusalem, just as he knew its turbulent history. Jesus knew the expectations God had for Jerusalem, just as he knew how humanity had soured the glory of those expectations with its selfish and cruel behaviour. Jesus stood on the hillside, looking down on Jerusalem, and he wept. Some commentators have suggested that he was not only weeping for the past and the present state of Jerusalem, but also for the destruction of the Temple that was to come in just thirty years’ time.
It is easy to imagine Jesus weeping in the knowledge of what was to befall him in the coming days, but Jesus’ whole ministry shows us that his only concern was for bringing humanity into a closer relationship with God. Throughout his ministry Jesus taught of a new way. He did not only teach of doing things differently, he also gave us a model of what his teaching meant. Jesus, the divine Son of God, did not come in power and glory. Jesus, the Saviour of the world, came as a lowly carpenter’s son to show us the path of true discipleship. Jesus came to love and to serve in God’s name, thus bringing us closer to God, Abba, our Father and his.
In this moment of human sorrow, Jesus is demonstrating a vulnerability that we all have. Unfortunately, we consider the showing of emotion as a weakness, but Jesus is showing us that being a disciple should matter that much to us. We should be ready to weep at the horrors that are perpetrated in this world. We should be ready to sob when we see the weak and the vulnerable exploited and abused. Like Jesus we should be ready to stand and look at the way humanity lives out its existence and weep. Then we should also follow the example of Jesus by gathering our strength and going forward in God’s name, sharing all that love with everyone we meet.