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As Jesus approached Jerusalem he wept

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Today’s bible study is Luke 19:41-44: As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes. The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you.

In this scripture passage, Jesus weeps over Jerusalem. The scene is not mere objective reporting, but is written from Luke’s own perspective at the end of the century, looking back on the terrible war between the Palestinian Jews and the Romans, in which Jerusalem was destroyed after its population had suffered the terrors of a long siege. Jesus does not celebrate the destruction of those who reject him, but weeps for them and prays for them.

The Hebrew word for peace, shalom, signifies more than the absence of war, although it includes that as well. It points to all that makes life worthwhile. The birth of Jesus was hailed by the angels as the good news of peace on earth, and Jesus’ disciples had just echoed the angels’ song.

Jerusalem includes the Hebrew word for peace in its name, but Jerusalem does not recognize what brings authentic peace. In Luke’s view, their rejection of Christ is a matter of ignorance, of not seeing and not knowing what is really happening before their eyes. From one point of view, they are responsible; from another point of view, such ignorance and misunderstanding is an aspect of the divine mystery of life in the present fallen world, ignorance and misunderstanding to which all, including the disciples, are subject. It is not an incurable ignorance, but the cure is repentance rather than education.

It is no wonder that Jesus wept. Would we not also weep at such destruction and harm? When Jesus was in the form of mortal man, he displayed all of the human characteristics that we all have, including sorrow and tears. We probably all remember the shortest Scripture verse as, Jesus wept. Now, with this bit of commentary, we may add new understanding to the reasons for which he wept.

May we weep with our Lord and Savior at harm and destruction wherever it may be. May we practice shalom, peace to our Christian brothers and sisters and also to our enemies. May we, with the grace of God, reach out in peace and become builders, never agents of destruction. We ask this all in Jesus name and for His sake.

References: The People’s New Testament Commentary by M. Eugene Boring and Fred B. Craddock and The MacArthur Bible Commentary by John MacArthur.

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