J ESUS RIDES on “a young donkey” toward Jerusalem, the city of Zion. With him are his disciples. They come “near the path down the Mount of Olives, and the crowd … begins to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the miracles they have seen.” The excited onlookers keep shouting:
“Hosanna! He who comes in the name of the Lord is the blessed One — the King of Israel!”
But as they come to a rise in the ground, and a panoramic vista of Jerusalem unfolds before them, Jesus “saw the city, and He wept over it.”
“He wept over it.” Only days before, Jesus wept at the tomb of Lazarus. “When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, he was greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved.” Famously, “Jesus wept.”
Jesus Christ wept in compassion for His friend, Lazarus, and for the grief of the family. As Jesus overlooks the city, he weeps in compassion and out of pity for the great city of Jerusalem. Jerusalem, Israel’s political capital. Jerusalem, Israel’s religious center. Jesus knows the injustice going on there. Jesus knows the heart of its leaders. Jesus knows what lies ahead — the untold suffering that will come.
† † †
OUR LORD’S TIME in and around Jerusalem immediately before the first Easter is a crucial moment. He overlooks the city and weeps. The moment passes and the Messiah and His followers move on to the Temple.
I consider our city, our nation, our world, in this time of pandemic. And I know Jesus sees us and weeps.
Jerusalem is the political capital of Israel. Compare that to Washington, D.C., or Montgomery, our state capital. Politicians seem to care more about their careers than our lives. Downplaying the disease or super-hyping the danger depending on the political advantage. Caring more for party than people. Promoting the powerful and not the powerless. Making sure businesses are taken care of, but not the poorest of the poor. Jesus looks over the capital cities and weeps.
† † †
JERUSALEM IS ALSO the religious center of Israel. But the religious leaders care only for themselves.
■ They teach about God but do not love God.
■ They stress the importance of the law but do not practice the law — justice, mercy, faithfulness to God.
■ They present an appearance of being ‘clean’ (self-restrained, holy), yet they are dirty — full of greed and self-indulgence.
† † †
AS WE TALKED ABOUT last Sunday, Jesus saw the people like sheep without a shepherd. As Jesus overlooks Jerusalem, he sees worthless shepherds — and Jesus weeps.
Today, Jesus sees religious folks putting the importance of physical worship attendance over care for others and medical safety. Jesus sees folks more concerned about broadcasting worship than tending to the needy. Jesus sees religious people taking this social distancing as a vacation from God — no worship, self-giving, or prayer. Passing on this opportunity to experience new and different ways of joining with family to celebrate the God who gives life. And Jesus weeps.
Jesus looks out over our cities, our nation, our world and he cries.
Jesus cries tears of pain on seeing bruised faces of medical staff after hours wearing face masks and tending to the sick.
Jesus cries on seeing the ache of parents unable to hug their own children for fear of infecting them. On seeing family singing and crying through closed windows of nursing homes where loved ones live in loneliness and confusion.
When people care only for themselves and hoard goods, purchasing guns to keep others at bay. Jesus weeps for our failure to love one another.
† † †
JESUS SEES CHILDREN in dangerous situations. Home bound with parents and parents’ friends who are abusive in language and action. And no one to offer help. Jesus sees and Jesus weeps.
Jesus cries over the economic injustice of men and women who are looked down on and are paid poverty wages in “normal” times but now, in a raging pandemic, they are considered “essential” — undocumented farm laborers, fast-food workers, hospital custodians, delivery drivers, and many others.
† † †
BUT JESUS ALSO LOOKS over our city and nation and world and sheds tears of joy:
■ when the community prays for medical workers.
■ when folks drive around providing free meals or bags of groceries for those who hunger.
■ when large corporations sacrifice their profits and dividends to pay employees even when they are not working.
■ when people stay at home, not out of concern for themselves, but because this simple action might save someone else’s life.
■ when people send cards and letters to nursing home residents whom they don’t know.
† † †
JESUS SEES THE STATE of our nation, the state of our churches, the state of our people and Jesus cries. He demonstrates his compassion for humanity. May his tears, and those he provoke, result in transformation in all of us.