Summary: God goes to the City that makes Him cry because of you and I.
“This City Makes God Cry” Luke 19:41
We come today in our Lenten Journey to the point where Jesus is about to enter Jerusalem triumphantly. His ministry and life has been prophecy fulfilled. Jesus ascends the Mount of Olives, a mountain range on the eastern boundary of Jerusalem. Jerusalem sits at the base of the Mount and from the crest of the Mount you can see one of the most beautiful break taking views in the world – the City of Jerusalem and the surrounding hills and valley.
Jewish tradition would say that the Messiah would descend upon the Mount of Olives and proceed from there to Jerusalem.
The City of Jerusalem had taken on a festive air. The City was heavy with expectancy. You could feel it in the air – the anxious waiting of the Messiah – the deliverance of God.
The Prophet Isaiah had said a king would reign in righteousness. The lyrics of Isaiah were a part of their history. The foreboding of Jeremiah was a part of their heritage. The condemnation of Amos was in their national memory. Such was the hope of the Holy City.
Jerusalem was the natural place for God to come and offer his love. The Hebrews had heard his thunder at Mount Sinai. One of their ancestors had wrestled with God. It was the City of David. It was the place of rest for the Ark of the Covenant. The Temple was built there.
Upon the Mount, Jesus directs his disciples to borrow a colt for him to ride into the City. They obtain a colt and tell the owner the Lord has need of it.
It’s interesting to note that Matthew and Mark in the retelling of this story miss an aspect that Luke records. Both Matthew and Mark have Jesus descending the Mount and going into the City. But Luke sees Jesus pause for a moment after the crowds have finished shouting, after the applause dies down, after the moment of euphoric exhilaration is gone. And, we witness Jesus, the Son of God, beholding the city and weeping over it.
What does he see? What going on? What’s happening that This City makes God Cry!
Jesus looks over the City. He sees the buildings on Mt. Zion, the bronze doors of the temple, and the shining dome blazing in the morning sun. He sees the place of Herod. He sees the Damascus road in the distance – the place where Paul will meet Jesus for himself. He sees the pool of Siloam in the valley – the healing pool. He sees the people in the marketplace and realizes they are selling in the temple. He sees the City of Jerusalem, but he sees more.
Jesus sees a city that abuses its poor. They are exploited by unfair weights and measures. In a City of plenty they are left to beg for crumbs from the table. In a City with growing housing development they are abandoned to live on the streets and alleyways. Jesus sees a city that neglects its children. Children at the point of their greatest need are neglected, miseducated, their potential stifled by practices and policies that place more value on things than on people. Jesus sees a city that abuses women. They are used for pleasure and exploitation by men as temple prostitutes. They are relegated to thankless and meaningless jobs. Not only are women physically abused, they are mentally abused. Jesus sees a city where the resources that God has provided equally to everyone are hoarded by the few to the detriment of the many.
This is a City that makes God cry!
Jesus sees the people.
People who call his name, but are not loyal to him.
People going through the motions of religion, but lacking the power of God.
People who sing the songs of Zion, but lack a commitment of spirit.
People who are mere performers, but not really participants.
People who talk ethical behavior, but don’t practice the presence of God.
People who know the law, but don’t obey the spirit of the soul.
People who are materialist, but not spiritualist.
Jesus beholds the City, but he sees more.
Downtown development, but uptown despair.
Stadiums aplenty, but schools alacking.
Inner Harbor mariners, but outer harbor nightmares.
Property safety zones, but people danger zones.
Young men drifting, young women lost.
Political promises with corruption in high places.
Religious leaders, but no religious leadership.
Jesus draws near the City, stops and he weeps.
He weeps because as he draws near we don’t feel the thrill of his presence.
He weeps because as he draws near he sees our pious words but knows we reject him in our hearts.
He weeps because he knows we live by our wits, and not by faith.