Luke tells us that upon arriving in Jerusalem, Jesus wept over the city, saying, “If only you had recognized on this day the things that make for peace!” (Luke 19:42) Forseeing the destruction lying in the city’s future, Jesus’ heart broke, moving him to tears.
I wonder if Jesus had second thoughts at that moment regarding the offers made to him by the devil out in the wilderness? The devil had tempted him with the power to run rough-shod over peoples’ freedom. Knowing where the people were headed, do you suppose Jesus might have been tempted once more to avail himself to that power to try and force the people to do “the things that make for peace”?
But alas, it is not possible. You cannot force people to choose the path that leads to life. You can only do your best to show them the way, and then hope and pray they choose the path for themselves.
There is this awful paradox expressed in the story of Jesus going to the cross: The all-powerful one — the creator of heaven and earth — is powerless to make us respond with love. The all-powerful one is reduced to weeping like a baby in response to the beloveds refusal to embrace the love.
Anybody who has ever watched someone they love heading down a destructive path knows what Jesus felt at that moment.
Bad choices bring repercussions. The people of Jerusalem chose apath that would bring about the destruction of the temple, when the Roman armies besieged the city in 70 AD. The prodigal son ended up penniless and destitute. But beyond these repercussions, God patiently waits our return home.
Back on the first of the 40 days of Lent, we said that one of the fundamental themes of Lent is simple patience. What would it mean for us to mirror the patience of God in our lives?
Loving God, we confess our refusal to embrace the things that make for peace. We marvel at the tears of Jesus, and your divine patience with us. Help us to learn how to follow in the way of Jesus. Amen.