18 November 2010Luke 19:41-44
"As he came near and saw the city, he wept over it." (v. 41)
Luke understands the coming devastation of Jerusalem as an
aspect of the passion story, and a precise consequence of the
rejection of the Messiah. The calamity which will leave you without
"one stone upon another" is, "because you did not recognise the
time of your visitation from God" (verse 44). If they had only seen
Jesus as the one who will "make for peace" (verse 42), then the
horror would not have come. In this story, Jesus' reaction to this
rejection, as in the whole passion story, is compassion and not
anger. He weeps over the city. The heart of God breaks because of
the consequences of humanity's rejection of "the things that make
for peace!" (verse 42)
A clear distinction is made because consequence is not the same as punishment. I may, for example, drive my car very badly, without due attention or care, and as a consequence crash the car. The crash may result in a serious impact on my health, others and my bank balance. However, such a terrible consequence won't of itself free me from the way the law might still want to treat me. If it were to be shown that I had indeed failed to pay proper attention or drive without due care, I could, in addition receive a punishment from the magistrate. When we talk of God's mercy in the face of our disobedience, it is to our punishment that we refer and not the consequence of our disobedience. By rejecting, "things that make for peace" we may well experience terrible things; enemies, who will, "set up ramparts around you and surround you" (verse 43). But in this story we notice that the person who is rejected, even though our rejection is hugely damaging, weeps for us. The Messiah who comes to bring peace, suffers rejection and is crucified, but persists in reaching out to a doubly broken and damaged people with love that 'will not let me go'.
"Were the whole realm of nature mine, that were a present far too small." How do you respond to the words of the famous hymn, in the light of what you have just read?
Where is God in my story at the moment, seeking to bring peace, hurting for me and with me?
In Prisons Week, where can I show compassion for those whose behaviour has resulted not only in punishment, but in many other painful consequences?
"Love so amazing so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all."