Saturday, March 16 — What Does Real Strength Look Like?
Our reading continues from yesterday’s reading with Jesus drawing closer to the city of Jerusalem and the fate that awaits him there.
Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! See, your house is left to you. And I tell you, you will not see me until the time comes when you say, ‘Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.'”
As Christians one thing we take for granted is that Jesus defines what it means to be truly strong. (As children we learn that little song about “Jesus loves me this I know” which includes the line, “We are weak but he is strong.”)
There is this common stereotype of strength – particularly strength associated with men – that it presents itself to the world without any indication of weakness.
But the image of strength we receive from Jesus in his words of lament over the city of Jerusalem is altogether different from the stereotype. Often when we think about the “suffering” Jesus endured we focus on the physical pain of being nailed to the cross. Here, however Jesus gives voice to the very real emotional and spiritual pain of having his love rejected by the people of Jerusalem.
Jesus acknowledges his own vulnerability when he uses a feminine image – that of a mother hen — to describe his heartbreak: “How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!”
Later when Jesus approaches the city of Jerusalem to enter it on Palm Sunday, we are told that Jesus openly wept over it. So much for the idea big boys don’t cry. (Luke 19:41) (We will see a similar vulnerability later in Lent when we hear of the father in Jesus’ famous parable of the prodigal son.)