Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Jesus and Jerusalem

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not!
Matthew 23:37

jerusalem gate

This lament for the capital city of Israel comes on the heels of Jesus' infamous sermon of seven woes against the scribes and Pharisees who characterized the rejection of His ministry among the people of the nation. It was in Jerusalem that the worship of God was organized at the temple. It was here that the main feasts and celebration of God's worship were practices. This was the city that had just wildly welcomed Him into the city with Messianic fervor. And it was the place where He knew He would die to atone for the sin of the world.

Jerusalem had a history. It was a checkered past, full of triumph and tragedy. It was the place where God was proclaimed. It was also the place where apostasy and idolatry often led to Him being abandoned. It was a political center. It was a social center. And it was the place where the prophets pled with the people to repent, only to be rejected. Jeremiah's tears flowed there, just as Jesus' do at the thought of the spiritual state of the nation encapsulated in the city of Zion.

I find it interesting that Jesus was moved by the spiritual and not the political plight of His people. Not once in the New Testament does He decry the Roman occupation. He calls the people to the worship of Yahweh and like the prophets before Him, takes the religious leaders to task for their abandonment of God's Law. He knows that the spiritual need of Israel is the greatest need of the people. In His message, it is the ONLY need of the people. And love drives Him to continue to care for that need and to decry their deception and rejection of God.

The passion and the heart of Jesus are so clearly shown for us in this account. He understands and speaks to the deepest human need, redemption from sin, acceptance by a loving God, and the soul support and protection such divine favor bestows.

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