As Jesus approached and saw the city, He wept over it, saying, “If you knew this day what would bring peace — but now it is hidden from your eyes. For the days will come on you when your enemies will build an embankment against you, surround you, and hem you in on every side. They will crush you and your children within you to the ground, and they will not leave one stone on another in you, because you did not recognize the time of your visitation.” – Luke 19:41-44
“What’s the use of getting angry? She’s going to do what she wants no matter what you say.” These were the wise words of a rebellious child’s father to his wife. He was being a pragmatist. Anger was getting them nowhere with their willful child. She was bent on wearing clothes they hated and hanging out at school with kids they believed to be bad influences. Nothing they said changed their daughter’s mind.
“I’m just writing him off my list. He obviously doesn’t care that he’s hurting everyone in his life by his irresponsible behavior. I’m just not going to invite him to any of our gatherings.” Such is the conclusion of an all-too-often disappointed mother-in-law. He son-in-law had hurt her daughter and grandchild one too many times. Hurt me once, shame on you. Hurt me twice, shame on me! That’s the mantra of those who simply run out of patience and love.
Those who come to these conclusions do not do so out of a deep love and commitment to the welfare of others. They don’t have as their number one priority that of redeeming others – even if those they seek to redeem refuse to acknowledge the gift.
When Jesus weeps over Jerusalem it is not a moment of softness or weakness on Jesus’ part. This is no wimper. This was not simply a quiet moment when Jesus had his guard down. He was not just more susceptible to his emotions in that moment.
Jesus’ weeping betrays a deeper truth about himself. He will not force anyone to receive his redemption. There will be a time when every knee will bow – some willingly, and others under duress. There will come a time when he will sit on his glorious throne and judge the nations of the world. There will come a time when those who have faith in Jesus will be welcomed into his eternal kingdom of joy, life, grace, and splendor. Those who deny him, sadly, will be allowed to go their way to eternal destruction.
Jesus weeps because he realizes that the people of Jerusalem are rejecting the most precious gift of all. They are without hope. They are blind. They are lost. And they will not see. They will not follow him. They will not open their eyes to the hope that he has for them and all people.
Jesus will not force them to believe. He will grieve over their unbelief. They are farther from God than they know. He will go to them, be rejected by them, suffer at their instigation, and die before their very eyes. Even more sadly, they will not recognize that his death is their peace.
Let that not be said of us today – though all too often it is true. For this we may need to lament with Jesus and wish for his grace to break through into the lives of others.