During this Lenten season, we’ve been looking at the calamitous prophecies of Jeremiah. The persistent and ungrateful rejection of God and his ways by the inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem made it impossible for them to escape impending disaster. This week our focus has been Jeremiah 6-9.
As a parallel to Jeremiah’s lament, I’ve been thinking about Jesus’ week-long “Road to Jerusalem”. Matthew 23 contains Jesus’ intense rebuke of religious leaders during that time frame. It begins:
…woe to you, experts in the law and you Pharisees, hypocrites!
Jesus ended his assessment of these leaders with this lament:
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! See, your house is left to you desolate. For I tell you, you will not see me again, until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’” Matthew 23:37-39 ESV
He used the same words during that week with different additions in these laments, Luke 13:33-35 and Luke 19:41-44.
Jesus made many pointed overtures to these religious leaders during and prior to his public ministry. Their acceptance of Jesus as the longed for Messiah should have begun at Luke 2:46-47. They should have appreciated and pursued the twelve year old prodigy for his unmistaken understanding and answers to life’s most profound questions. Instead they ignored and persecuted him.
The rejection of Jesus’ messages, miracles, and the leaders’ disdain of his rightful claim for the worship from all mankind, is at the core of all lament. Let’s try to enter into the deep sadness God endures as humans reject his words, care, and support.
Look at Jesus’ final lament (Matthew 23:37-39) before his surrender to the ordeal of the Cross. Recall the catastrophic second fall of Jerusalem and demolition of the second temple – just as Jesus sorrowfully foretold in his Luke 19:41-44 lament above.
Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain?
The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together,
against the Lord and against his Anointed, saying,
“Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.” Psalm 2:1-3 ESV
- Lament the brokenness of the world around us.
- Lament your own brokenness.
- Let it soak in that: rejection of Jesus’ sacrifice and message is deeply personal to him.
- BONUS PRACTICE: Read or listen to Psalm 85 as you pray for the hope of restoration of future generations, asking the Holy Spirit to move hearts to surrender fully to him for fulfillment of his promises.