Matthew 23:37-39 – Jesus Weeps For Me; He Weeps For You!

Posted: March 14, 2016 in Gospel of Matthew

Matthew 23:37-39 – Jesus Grieves Over Jerusalem

As a parent, you watch your children grow up and you guide them and teach them and watch over them as no one else can. You gave birth to them. You are the reason that they exist. Yet once they emerge from their mother’s womb, children have minds of their own. When they are young, they are completely dependent on us for everything, but yet even then there are periods of rebellion that have to be dealt with. Although it seems major to a parent at the time, none of those time are as major as when those teenage years hit. The stakes are higher, the fights are deeper, all of it because the child’s future is at stake. When they are teenagers, the future is not that far away. And, it seems at that time, that our children put the least amount of trust in what we say as parents. To them, we are the stupidest, most arbitrary people in the world. I was no different. When I was a teenager, I thought my parents were the so stuck in the past that they just could not understand me and the new ways of the world. What was unacceptable to them in my behavior was because they were old-fashioned and simply did not want me to enjoy my life the way I wanted to. Thankfully (because of their parenting) I was never in deep trouble in society. Sure, I pulled stupid pranks that would get me in trouble. I would stay out too late on Friday or Saturday night that would get me in trouble, but there were only a few times that I came close to getting into real trouble outside of my parents. But in my youth, I just couldn’t stand the restrictions that they placed on my life and I could not wait to get out on my own. Yet, all the while my parents still loved me. Even after I was grown and on my own, I made mistakes, some of which changed the course of my life. I would not be sitting here in Duncan, SC writing this blog right now if we were not for the decisions that I have made throughout the course of my life that have led me to this place at this time. Some of where I am right now can be traced back to decisions made when I was a teenager and a young 20-something. Each of us can say that. Our present is made by our past decisions. Our future is molded by the decisions we are making right now. As parents, we can make decisions for our children but they do not learn from that. My parents could have stepped and made decisions for me over the years but yet they did not. My parents gave me the free will to make my own mistakes and live with the consequences of those mistakes. It is not because they did not love me but it is only through our mistakes that we mature. If our parents made all our decisions for us, we would still be living at home with them to this day. If our parents made all our decisions for us, we would that 30 year old guy playing video games in his mom’s basement, never truly living. In our parent’s desire for us to be responsible adults, they let us learn from our mistakes. Often they know exactly what is going to happen when we choose a course of action as a child, a teenager and even as an adult, but they often allow us to make our own judgment calls that will affect us deeply. They can instruct us in the right way to go but it is up to us to choose. It often grieves our parents when we make decisions that they know are going to turn out bad, but we must make the choice. I never understood the grief of watching your kids suffer with the consequences of decisions of their own, of the consequences of my own grown-up mistakes. No one understands that grief until you become a parent yourself. Then, your own parents become pretty smart again!

It is this feeling of watching your children make decisions that you know are going to turn out badly, when I visualize Jesus about to walk out of the Temple and looking back sadly like a parent leaving a teenager’s room after a heated discussion when we read through Matthew 23:37-39:

 

37 “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing. 38 Look, your house is left to you desolate. 39 For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’”

 

This lamentation should help us realize that the judgment Jesus just announced in such strong language was not something that delighted Him. It broke His heart. This is also clear in that He personalized the people in Jerusalem in these verses; Jesus spoke of the city as many people, not as an impersonal thing. He also spoke here as Israel’s Savior, not just a prophet but God Himself. As God, he knew that Israel was finally going to crushed completely by Rome within 40 years and that his beloved city was going to be destroyed utterly and completely including the Temple. The coming desolation of Israel, at the hands of Rome who will have grown so tired of the Israelite insurrections and political intrigue and unrest by 70AD that Jerusalem was completely demolished and the people of Israel scattered to the far reaches of the Empire. Jesus knew the consequences of their rejection of God would have its ultimate and final conclusion. At the hands of the Roman general, Titus, Jerusalem was destroyed and laid waste. Anything and everything of value was taken from the city include the gold that was the mortar between the stones of the Temple. It was complete and it was utter. Vespasian, another Roman general, had already crushed the rebellions in the remainder of Palestine but it was Titus’ sacking of Jerusalem that put the final dagger in the heart of the nation that we know of biblically as Israel. Jesus knew it was coming. He was like a parent knowing that the decisions your child is making will turn out badly for them and affect the rest of their lives in one way or another. He weeps for their rejection of God as only God Himself, our wise and eternal Parent, could weep. We weep over our children’s poor decisions. We know that it’s going to end badly but they will not listen. That’s how Jesus feels here. A parent weeping for His children.

This picture of God in the flesh weeping over the impending fate of Jerusalem that He knows is coming but yet that Israel does not yet see is how I see Him weeping over you and me. I was not saved by the grace of Jesus Christ until age 39. I guess you would call me a late bloomer by Christian standards. I know that Jesus probably wept over the poor decisions that I have made in my life. He knew how it was going to turn out. I rejected his advice found in His Word. I rejected His advice found in warning signs along the roads of my life. I rejected it all. After spending all my formative years as the son of a Methodist preacher in rural South Carolina towns, I ran from the church. I may have still attended church for many years after I grew up and got married the first time, then I didn’t go to church at all for a good many years. All of that though was without Jesus as my Savior. I rejected the church while still in the church. Then for much of my second marriage, I quit pretending and didn’t go to church at all. Jesus wept. Jesus didn’t weep because I was no longer feigning religiosity but He wept because I did not know Him. I did not know Him through His Word. I didn’t know a relationship with Him. Jesus wept because I rejected Him. Jesus wept with each unbiblical decision I made in my life. Jesus even weeps now as I struggle still with my sin-nature. Jesus weeps when I am prideful and conceited. Jesus weeps when I am self-centered. Jesus weeps when I want the glory of men and not seeking to give Him glory. Jesus weeps when I make being a Christian about comparisons to others rather than my own personal relationship with Him and being His humble and willing servant. Jesus weeps when I am greedy. Jesus weeps when I justify my sinful thoughts and actions as being OK. Thank God that on the day of my salvation that Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to live and dwell within me to help me conquer the sin-nature that I carry with me daily. Thank God I do not have to depend on my goodness to right with God. I know that I continue to disappoint Jesus and make Him weep but He is working in me through the Holy Spirit. He is perfecting me through the Holy Spirit. He makes me look back at my old self and be disgusting by the things that pre-salvation Mark did and accepted as being OK. It turns my stomach to think of some of the truly disgusting things that I did pre-salvation. Even now, after being a Christ follower for a little over 15 years now, there are things that disgust me about the young Christian I used to be. Things that I kept as my pet sins and did not want to give. Those hard things that the Holy Spirit has to work hardest to get us to let go. That is not to say that I am perfect now. I still make mistakes that grieve Jesus’ heart and will continue to do so until He takes me home to Heaven. I am a work in progress and boy does the Holy Spirit have a full-time job in my soul!

Jesus weeps for you if you do not know Him. He weeps right now. He wants you to come to Him just as a mother hen wants to gather all her chicks around her. He waits for you. He wants you to make the decision to come to Him. He weeps as He waits. He is broken hearted like a parent watching their made decisions that He knows are going to end badly for the child. He waits for you to realize that He was right all along. He waits for you to come get under His wing. He weeps for you. Come to Him now! Come home to your Abba Father! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!

 

Amen and Amen.

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