Psalm 149: “ Praise the Lord, Sing to the Lord a new song. Sing his praises in the assembly of the faithful.”
During the past 8 months or so, many of us have taken the opportunity for daily walks around where we live. I wonder how many of you noticed things or people that you had never noticed before, even though you have lived here for many years. After all, in our day to day lives, we go from A to B without particularly noticing who and what is around us.
A few years ago, quite a few members of the congregation walked the perimeter of our parish, praying for those who live and work within the parish. I remember walking along, seeing where we live from a totally different perspective. On one stretch of road, it seemed as if everyone had their garage doors open and they were sorting the huge amount of possessions that dwelt within. I was struck by how much store we put in accumulating stuff, and in this case, it seemed to centre around various leisure pursuits. Another area was strewn with alcohol and cigarette rubbish. It was as if God was showing me just how focused we are on all the pleasures that this world has to offer, whilst not noticing the couple of homeless people living in a tent in a piece of scrubland, or those who were enduring unspeakable hardships behind closed doors.
We can bear all this in mind, as we have a look at today’s Gospel reading from Luke 19. Jesus had already been welcomed by the crowds, who cheered, sung and proclaimed him king as he rode a colt on his way to Jerusalem. But as he drew near and looked down on the city before him, Jesus wept. These are not just tears gently rolling down his face. Jesus sobbed from the depths of his being as he looked on the city that he loved.
Try to picture what is happening. Jesus already knows that those who have just welcomed and cheered for him, in a few days’ time will be part of the crowds who will shout “Crucify, Crucify!” But this is not why Jesus is sobbing. Despite knowing what his enemies would do to him, Jesus did not hate, but instead he was filled with compassion and love. As he looked on the gleaming city, bustling with people, going about their business, he saw what was going to happen.
It is too late. Jesus sees that the leaders and the general populace had rejected him. They were blind to his actions and deaf to his message. They had decided what sort of Messiah they wanted and Jesus was not it. This proud city and nation rejected Jesus and sealed their fate. They were doomed to experience the consequences of rejecting God on His own terms.
In this moment, Jesus ‘sees’ with the eyes of a prophet what will happen to Jerusalem and its people. He foresaw the hour when the Roman army would level its walls, destroy its temple, and scatter its people through all lands; the nation would only be recognised by its ruins – not one stone will be left upon another. He weeps. He weeps for those who had the opportunity to accept Him as their Messiah, but who turned their backs on him.
Perhaps it was not just the man Jesus who wept in that moment, but perhaps it was God too. Yahweh, our creator God, must have wept for those he had created. He sent his son, Jesus, to live amongst us, knowing that he would be rejected and would die. But knowing something will happen that cannot be changed, does not mean that God would not be upset. He would still weep with sorrow for those who were so caught up in their own world to pay no attention to Him.
So that brings us back to where we started, what do you see when you look out into your community? We have often sung a chorus in church with the line “break my heart for what breaks yours, everything I have for your kingdom’s cause”. Perhaps, now is the time to ask Jesus to see our community through his eyes, so that we too are moved with the same compassion for the lost.
Let us pray: Father God, thank you that you are a God of compassion and mercy. Thank you Jesus for living and dying selflessly as a ransom for your people. This week, please give us eyes to see as you see. Fill our hearts with compassion for those who don’t know you, for those who don’t care or understand who they are rejecting. Please give us your words to share to make a difference in the lives of those we meet. May it not be too late for those we are praying for. Amen