Bible Reading: Luke 19.41-44
I couldn’t even hold back the tears today. There was just too much at stake as I looked out over the city. It wasn’t enough just to sit back and look. I had become so overwhelmed there was no other response.
The city of Jerusalem was becoming somewhere that I was anxious of visiting. It wasn’t like it had been when first I went. Even though this was home territory, it didn’t mean that I felt comfortable here. I’d been born just a few miles down the road, and Jerusalem was a city where I was able to worship and enter into the Temple. It felt as though this was where I should be able to feel most able to preach the message of God and to do God’s work. But it wasn’t quite like that. The authorities in the Temple weren’t all that supportive of me. They seemed to find my telling of God’s message difficult. They seemed to think that just because I was saying something different that it meant I was wrong. They weren’t open to what I had to say, even as an equal as a teacher around the Temple. Instead, they constantly criticised my teaching. They undermined what I said. They were clearly not happy about it. They wanted to do something about it.
I guess the day we arrived in Jerusalem didn’t do much to help. My crowd of disciples were quite keen that we should get into the city. I sent them to fetch some transport for me to travel into the city. I thought that a Donkey would give a good message. They had been pushing me to enter with a big arrival, so I thought we could keep a much lower profile this way. A donkey. I mean, who would want to make a big thing about a guy on a donkey? So they went and got one and then we set off into the town. They must have let people know though, and people who had met me before, and others who had heard about my time in Galilee had all come out to see us arrive. They got down some palm leaves and waved them excitedly. There were even some cloaks and banners being waved. No wonder the Temple crowd were upset, there was such a noise and crowd that they ended up not being able to miss our arrival. The humble donkey didn’t seem to mind the fuss, but it was somewhat more of an entry than I’d expected.
But Jerusalem felt oppressive this time. It wasn’t just the arrival that seemed a problem. The Romans were everywhere. It seemed to be under a police state. It seemed like the capital had become somewhere under the grip of a security crackdown. Perhaps they feared an uprising? Maybe they thought there would be trouble at the festival? Jerusalem wasn’t the place of holy relics, where people could come to God and worship. Instead, it was a place where the people were scared to act in case they were being accused of misdemeanours or insurrections. The temple authorities weren’t helping, but the Romans were certainly uneasy too. Why was our city becoming such a damaged place? Why were we feeling so frightened in our own holy place?
I went out and looked down on the city. It felt so much more different today than ever before. It was like our Holy place, our most sacred of sites was no more than a place where we were being contained, supposedly for our own safety. It may have seemed like an attempt to keep peace, but it was nothing more than being silenced. Will the guys I’ve spent time with ever recognise what great blessing their times had been? Will Jerusalem ever stand as a city proud and safe? Will my tears over the pain of the city ever be proven wrong?
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