Pastor Bruce K. Meier
Sunday marks the beginning of Holy Week for the Christian community. The Lenten journey we have traveled for the past six weeks is bringing us closer and closer to the cross of Good Friday and then the jubilant celebration of Christ's resurrection on Easter Sunday.
For the time being I would like to focus on Palm Sunday and Christ's triumphal entry into the city of Jerusalem. If you would, please take out your Bible and read from the Gospel of Luke, the 19th chapter, verses 28 through 48. It is in this section we are told of Christ's entrance into Jerusalem and the clearing of the temple. It is in this section that we tend to focus in on the rejoicing, the shouts of "Hosanna," the songs of praise, the euphoric atmosphere, the arrival of the King! We revel in Jesus' clearing of the temple as He drives those people out who profane it by treating it as a market place. We tend to become so caught up in the excitement of His arrival that we overlook the fact that amid all the joy, One had eyes filled with tears; not tears of joy, but rather tears of remorse. It is stated very clearly in verse 41; As He approached Jerusalem and saw the city, He wept over it.
Notice that He does not say He wept because of Jerusalem. The tears were not because He knew this was where He would die on the cross. Rather, "He wept over it." In the next three verses Jesus tells us the cause of those eyes filled with tears. It is at that moment when He crosses over the ridge at the Mount of Olives, that another vision comes into sight for Him.
It is at that moment in time that He thinks not of Himself, but rather He laments for those who are lost. He weeps for a city and its people whose hearts have become hardened. He wept for a city and its people who literally chose to hide their eyes from the peace and grace of God's promises of a Savior, now fulfilled in Christ Jesus. Many had chosen unbelief. They chose to foolishly think they could earn their salvation. They believed they knew a better way than Christ Jesus. Jesus wept because He knew the consequences for those who did not believe and this city of Jerusalem. Jesus knew the devastation this city and most of its people, who were sealed in unbelief, would face at the hands of the Romans. They would be dashed to ruins.
How often does Jesus weep as He surveys the cities of this world today? How many of us choose not to believe the Gospel message of salvation in Christ Jesus, failing to receive the salvation that is given freely to all who believe? How many continue to refuse the love, grace, and mercy of God, which is given freely, no charge, no pre-requisites? God offers a salvation that simply says "recognize your sin, repent of your sin, and believe".
Yet, how many of us prefer to believe that we must and/or can do it ourselves? We feel we can earn or buy the favor of God. How many foolishly believe that through good deeds we are capable of purchasing a heavenly place, even though we are clearly told; All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6). The Gospel of Jesus Christ saves, not good works or people!
So here we are, at the beginning of Holy Week. On Palm Sunday we will celebrate Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem. On Maundy Thursday we will share in the Passover Seder and the Lord's Supper. On Good Friday, we meet at the foot of the cross upon which our Savior died for the sins of the world. This was truly both the worst of days and best of days for mankind.
On Easter Sunday we will celebrate the resurrection of our Lord, which brought about the promise of salvation and eternal life for all who believe. This promise was freely given and freely received!
Where do you stand? Does Jesus weep for you or does He rejoice in your belief?
May the Lord, Christ Jesus, bless each and every one of you as we journey to His cross of forgiveness and the empty tomb of salvation!
- Pastor Bruce K. Meier of Calvary Lutheran Church of Sunnyside.