Scripture: Luke 19:41-44 (alternate reading for Thanksgiving Day in the U.S.A. from Luke 17:11-19)
41 And when he drew near and saw the city he wept over it, 42 saying, "Would that even today you knew the things that make for peace! But now they are hid from your eyes. 43 For the days shall come upon you, when your enemies will cast up a bank about you and surround you, and hem you in on every side, 44 and dash you to the ground, you and your children within you, and they will not leave one stone upon another in you; because you did not know the time of your visitation."
Meditation: What is the enemy of peace in our homes, cities, and nations and what keeps us from a good relationship with God and with our neighbor? When Jesus approached the city of Jerusalem he wept over it because it inhabitants did not "know the things that make for peace" (Luke 19:42). Jesus fulfills the beatitude for those who weep and for those who make peace – "blessed are those who mourn ...blessed are the peacemakers" (Matthew 5:4,9). That is why Jesus went to Jerusalem to be crucified not only for the sins of its inhabitants but to reconcile the whole world – all who have sinned – with God. Mourning and weeping over sin and unfaithfulness leads to true peace and reconciliation not only with God but with our neighbor as well. Do you know the peace which makes for lasting friendship, joy, and unity?
Jesus' earthly ministry centers and culminates in Jerusalem, which scripture describes as the holy city, the throne of the Lord (Jeremiah 3:17);and the place which God chose for his name to dwell there (1Kings 11:13; 2 Kings 21:4; 2 Kings 23:27); and the holy mountain upon which God has set his king (Psalm 2:6). Jerusalem derives its name from the word "salem" which mean "peace". The temple in Jerusalem was a constant reminder to the people of God's presence with them.
Why does Jesus weep and lament for this city? It's inhabitants had rejected the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord because of their pride and unbelief. Now they refuse to listen to Jesus who comes as their Messiah – whom God has anointed to be their Savior and Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6). Jesus' entrance into Jerusalem was a gracious visitation of God's anointed King to his holy city. Jerusalem's lack of faith and rejection of the Messiah, however, leads to its devastation and destruction. Jesus' lamentation and prophecy echoes the lamentation of Jeremiah who prophesied the first destruction of Jerusalem and its temple. Jeremiah's lamentation offered hope of deliverance and restoration: "But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies are new every morning ...For the Lord will not cast off for ever, but, though he cause grief, he will have compassion according to the abundance of his steadfast love for he does not willingly afflict or grieve the sons of men" (Lamentations 3:21-22, 31-32). Jesus is the hope of the world because he is the only one who can truly reconcile us with God and with one another. Through his death and resurrection Jesus breaks down the walls of hostility and division by reconciling us with God. He gives us his Holy Spirit both to purify us and restore us as a holy people of God. Through Christ we become living temples of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19). God has visited his people in the past and he continues to visit us through the gift and working of his Holy Spirit. Do you recognize God's gracious visitation today?
When God visits his people he comes to establish peace and justice by rooting out our enemies – sin and Satan who enslave us to fear and pride, rebellion and hatred, envy and covetousness, strife and violence, and every form of evil. That is why God both judges and purifies his people – to lead us from our sinful ways to his way of justice, peace, love, and holiness. God actively works among his people to teach us his ways and to save us from the destruction of sin and Satan. Are God's judgments unjust or unloving? Scripture tells us that "when God's judgments are revealed in the earth, the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness" (Isaiah 26:9). To pronounce judgment on sin is much less harsh than what will happen if those who sin are not warned to repent. The Lord in his mercy gives us grace and time to turn away from sin, but that time is right now. If we delay, even for a moment, we may discover that grace has passed us by and our time is up. Do you accept the grace to turn away from sin and to walk in God's way of peace and holiness?
"Lord Jesus, you have visited and redeemed your people. May I not miss the grace of your visitation today as you move to bring your people into greater righteousness and holiness of life. Purify my heart and mind that I may I understand your ways and conform my life more fully to your will."
1 Praise the LORD! Sing to the LORD
a new song, his praise in the assembly of the faithful!
2 Let Israel be glad in his Maker, let the sons of Zion rejoice in their King!
3 Let them praise his name with dancing, making melody to him with timbrel and lyre!
4 For the LORD takes pleasure in his people; he adorns the humble with victory.
5 Let the faithful exult in glory; let them sing for joy on their couches.
6 Let the high praises of God be in their throats
9 This is glory for all his faithful ones. Praise the LORD!