‘Dear Lord Jesus, thank you that you are King over all, and you love me so much that you died for me and rose again.’
Jesus’ sorrow for Jerusalem
31 At that time some Pharisees came to Jesus and said to him, ‘Leave this place and go somewhere else. Herod wants to kill you.’
32 He replied, ‘Go and tell that fox, “I will keep on driving out demons and healing people today and tomorrow, and on the third day I will reach my goal.” 33 In any case, I must press on today and tomorrow and the next day – for surely no prophet can die outside Jerusalem!
34 ‘Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing. 35 Look, your house is left to you desolate. I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.”’
New International Version - UK (NIVUK) Holy Bible, New International Version® Anglicized, NIV® Copyright © 1979, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Jesus has been acting and teaching in a controversial way, and clearly this has got the attention of the local authorities (v 31). But Jesus is not surprised by this; the Bible is full of stories of God’s prophets not being welcomed by those around them.
Jerusalem is the centre for Jesus’ attention (and God’s story of his people): Jesus knows that he will die there and has been journeying towards it (v 33; Luke 9:44). God has long loved and protected his people (see Deuteronomy 32:10–12; Psalms 17:8; 36:7) – but as we have seen in earlier passages, not all will respond to Jesus’ message of salvation, and this leads Jesus to lament (vs 34,35). What things are stirring your heart to lament about today?
Jesus’ message about Jerusalem and the people of Israel is another example of God’s kingdom not being quite what we would expect. We know that those who aren’t of the biological family of Israel will also be invited into God’s kingdom if they turn to Jesus (see Galatians 3:26–29). There is much to praise God for.
Author: Louisa King
Luke 13:35 repeats words from Psalm 118:26, which some have interpreted as a prophecy about the coming of Jesus. Read Psalm 118 through now, reflecting on its words to prompt your prayers for today.
Deeper Bible study
‘Lo! He comes with clouds descending, / once for favoured sinners slain … Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah! God appears on earth to reign.’1
Jesus’ words are ominous. His fate and Jerusalem’s fate are inextricably linked. Zion, the city of God, where stood the Temple enclosing the sacred Ark of God, should have been the place where God’s name dwelt2 and from where God’s glory spread outwards into the world.Instead, it had decayed from within, fallen into ungodliness, succumbed to foreign empires and tolerated the rise of a corrupt religious leadership. Jerusalem had ignored and even killed God’s messengers – prophets such as Uriah, Zechariah and those killed by Jezebel.3 Now Jerusalem was about to kill her own Messiah, not at the hand of Herod but on the orders of a pagan overlord, manoeuvred by the religious leaders. Jesus knew that it would not be long before that same foreign empire would annihilate the city, leaving not one stone standing upon another.4
Mount Zion is probably in sight by now. Jesus is overcome by a complex of emotions, undoubtedly including dread of what he must first endure, but here his feelings are dominated by his sorrow about what might have been but now would never be. He longs to gather the people, to enfold and protect them, to be their Saviour now, but they did not want him. Shortly, he will enter the city. A few chapters on, my Bible heading says ‘Triumphal Entry’, but that is a product of centuries of colourful Palm Sunday rejoicing. The entry was pitiful. Jesus’ small band of followers tried to make something of it. They shouted ‘Blessed is he …’5 – but Jerusalem did not shout. Jerusalem would crucify him. After his ascension, the world would not see Jesus again, not until he returns to usher in the ‘new Jerusalem’,6 that is, the eternal kingdom of God. Then we will truly shout, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!’7
Lord of eternity, eagerly we await your return. Forgive our doubts. Cleanse us of our sins. Make us fit for your kingdom. We will greet your coming with joy.
1 Charles Wesley, 1707–88 2 1 Kings 8:29 3 Jer 26:20–23; 2 Chr 24:20,21; 2 Kings 21 4 Luke 19:44 5 Mark 11:9 6 Rev 21:2 7 Mark 11:9
Author: John Harris
Bible in a year
Read the Bible in a year: Hosea 1,2; Jude
Pray for Scripture Union
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