Anyone who has been a parent for long knows the pain and sorrow that Jesus is going through, here. Jerusalem, God’s chosen city. God’s children, Israel. The city of peace, as the name Jerusalem means. God had lavished his blessings on these people as a father does his children for generations. The Lord loved her with an everlasting love, a love that knows no bounds. A love that never fails.
But Jerusalem rejected him. Again and again, Jerusalem, and her people, had rejected the Lord and had gone a lusting after other gods. The Lord had given her His Word. He had visited them again and again in the prophets. This is the Word of the Lord. It was the Word God had given them to say. It wasn’t always the easiest to hear, but it was always, always given in love to God’s beloved ones.
And now God had sent the Word made flesh. Jesus Christ, God’s Son, the One whom angels adored and prophets longed to see. He has visited His people. He has come to them with words of Law and Gospel, of repentance and faith. His message is not hard or complicated. Repent and believe the Gospel. God forgives your sins for Jesus’ sake. Believe it.
This is what Jesus is lamenting in our text, Jesus weeping over Jerusalem. He knows that His promise is only as good as His threat, and He fears for the people, because they do not believe the promise. The Gospel can only be heard if the Law actually has consequences. How good would your word as a parent be of all you did was criticize and threaten with discipline but you never followed through? Your children would get you figured out quite quickly. Hear again this portion of the text: Now as Jesus drew near, He saw the city and wept over it, saying, If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side, and level you, and your children within you, to the ground; and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not know the time of your visitation.
The promise that Jesus gives comes with His very presence. Jesus is the thing that makes for peace. He is the very visitation of God on earth. He is God in the flesh. And He came to save them from their sins. He came to draw them into His loving embrace, pick them up from the depths, clean them up, and bring them to His eternal mansions in heaven.
But Jesus knows what will happen if they do not repent and believe the Gospel. He can see with the eye of God what is coming their way. In 70 A.D. Jerusalem was completely destroyed by the Romans. The people were killed and scattered all over the Mediterranean. Jesus knows it’s coming, and He longed to forgive their sins, their unbelief, and their desire for power.
What was their sin? Their sin, according to Jesus, was that they did not know the time of their visitation. In other words, Jesus was in their midst, healing many and forgiving sins. He was right there, and they would not hear him. They refused to recognize God’s very presence in their midst. That was their sin. Unbelief. And because they refused to hear the promise, all that was left was their destruction.
But don’t get too comfortable. This is your sin and mine as well. Every time we despise God’s house and hearing His Word, we despise His presence. Every time we make something else more important than God’s forgiveness, or try to impress God by our works, we forget His promises.
God preaches this text to you not because He hates you and He wants you to feel bad about yourself. Not at all. He preaches this text to you, reminds you of the destruction of Jerusalem, precisely because He loves you and wants only what is best for you. He longs to forgive your sins and draw you into His presence. But He knows your unbelief. He knows your struggle with sin. He knows how there is one part of you that longs to be with Jerusalem, warring and bickering and fighting and hating rejecting the very thing that makes for peace.
As I look at all of the violence and bloodshed that goes on in Jerusalem even today, it reminds me of how true Jesus’ words were almost 2000 years ago. If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes.
But they are not hidden from your eyes. For your eyes have seen the salvation which He prepared before His people Israel. Your eyes see the things that make for peace even this day. I’m not talking about just good morals or kind of glorified niceness. No, the only thing that makes for peace, peace between man and God, peace between you and heaven, the only thing that makes for that peace is the blood of Jesus Christ, poured out for you and given to you from this very Altar. That is where your peace is found.
We live in a day and an age of violence, bloodshed and pain at times. But in this great gift God gives you the peace that passes all understanding. God gives you the peace which conquers the whole world. Believe it, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.
The peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in true faith, unto life everlasting.