Luke 19:41-44 (CEV)
41 When Jesus came closer and could see Jerusalem, he cried 42 and said:
It is too bad that today your people don’t know what will bring them peace! Now it is hidden from them. 43 Jerusalem, the time will come when your enemies will build walls around you to attack you. Armies will surround you and close in on you from every side. 44 They will level you to the ground and kill your people. Not one stone in your buildings will be left on top of another. This will happen because you did not see that God had come to save you.
If ever God had a reason to be angry, it would have been now.
If ever God had an opportunity to protest, it would have been now.
If ever God had any intentions of a full-out war, it would have been now.
God’s people have rejected God-in-flesh and are about to kill him.
But here comes Jesus over the horizon, knowing full well that in coming to Jerusalem he is exposing himself to capture, torture and death. And he looks across the final valley that separates him from Jerusalem, and sees the city in front of him and knows that it has chosen the path that will lead to it’s destruction.
They have chosen to hold onto their rules and purity codes and fear instead of learning to live life freely and lightly and full of love – the way Jesus has spent the past three years (and 19 chapters of Luke) teaching and demonstrating for them, and for us.
Like so many today, they have chosen to try to make a deal with power, so that they can have a piece of the power, instead of caring for the marginalized and the abused and the oppressed.
And yet as opposed to Jesus’ ways as this is, he doesn’t condemn Jerusalem to their fate.
Jesus’ tears tell us that he wishes for all the world that it could be different.
Maybe he wishes that the people had made different choices, that they had been more willing to listen, that they had set aside their presuppositions for long enough to ask whether Jesus might just be on to something.
Maybe he wishes that power didn’t corrupt and that absolute power didn’t corrupt absolutely.
Maybe he just wishes that the Kingdom he was ushering in would just take over already.
Whatever the case, Jesus doesn’t condemn Jerusalem. He simply sees the logical progression of their actions, and realizes that the only possible outcome is that Jerusalem will fall.
And that’s what happens.
In A.D. 66 the first Roman-Jewish war began – over issues of taxation, religious autonomy and ultimately, power. The war continued and in A.D. 70 the Jews lost the Siege of Jerusalem to the Romans. In the process of taking over the city and the temple, a fire began and the temple and much of the city was destroyed. Josephus – a historian at the time, who was present during the siege and destruction of Jerusalem – estimated that 1.1 million people were killed during the siege and another 97,000 were taken into slavery.
The beloved city is destroyed.
Her people are killed or taken off into slavery.
And as he comes over the crest of the hill and looks across the valley at Jerusalem, Jesus sees the trajectory the people are on – sees that there is no way for peace to come out of this place – and he cries.
- How are you reaching for ‘peace’ these days?
- Are you reaching for power? Are you reaching for ‘success’? Are you reaching for ‘enough’?
- What motivates you today? Is it fear? Or is it love?
- What would it look like to reach for the peace that is the shalom of the Kingdom?
- What would it look like to reach for the power that is the upside-down power of the Kingdom?
- What would it look like to reach for the success that is the servanthood of the Kingdom?
- What would it look like to reach for the ‘enough’ found in the Sabbath of the Kingdom?
- What would it look like to be motivated today not by fear, but by love?