Luke 19:44b – “…because you did not recognize the time of your visitation from God.”
My message for Palm Sunday, The Whole Multitude, focused on the unique features in Luke’s narrative of The Triumphant Entry of Jesus. Several key components of the traditional scene are removed from the third gospel. The large crowd of Diaspora Jews on a pilgrimage to the Holy City are not present in Luke’s account. There is no waving of palm branches. There are no shouts of Hosanna. There is no association with the House of David. In my message, I explain how Luke removes these “nationalistic overtones” so that he can emphasize the presence and participation of the disciples, who finally get it right, if only for a moment!
The emotionally charged moment when Jesus weeps over Jerusalem is another component unique to the Gospel of Luke. The lament of Jesus begins at the 41st verse. I imagine Jesus riding the colt along the path descending the Mount of Olives when the city (and, particularly, the Temple) become visible to him. I imagine Jesus looks past the Kidron Valley and sees the City of David alive and thriving. He looks over the Eastern Wall and beholds the Temple in all of its glory. This city and this house has been his point of destination since Peter acknowledged his true identity on the road to Caesarea Philippi. I imagine Jesus arriving at a clearing along the path. Amid the joyful praise of his disciples, the city and the temple become visible to him. And, then, Jesus begins to weep.
The lament of Jesus is clear – “If you…had only recognized…the things that make for peace.” (v. 42) I would invite you to consider the meaning of his lament. How might his lament relate to his first teaching in the synagogue of his hometown of Nazareth (see 4:16ff)? Also, you may choose to ponder the consequences Jesus identifies in verse 43 and following…
My recent reading of this moment in the life of Jesus fixed upon the conclusion of his statement – the words Jesus speaks just before he enters the city and approaches the Temple. Jesus justifies the his lament and the verdict spoken against Jerusalem by claiming her failure to grasp God’s visitation: “…because you did not recognize the time of your visitation [from God].” (v. 44b)
Jesus foretells the destruction that would come upon Jerusalem and the Temple, but his justification of the judgment against Jerusalem affects me for another reason. Jerusalem failed to recognize the divine visitation in the person of Jesus! She failed to perceive the revelation of God. And, she never realized her mistake!
Failing to recognize God’s visitation scares me. My fear emerges out of my belief in the possibility of overlooking or, in some cases, rejecting the presence of God in my life. My fear emerges out of my belief that I can choose not to see what God has placed before me… (How would I know if I missed it, if I cannot know what I do not know?)
More Importantly, are there consequences? Will my failing to acknowledge the presence of God lead to predictable results? Jesus foretells of the destruction that will come to Jerusalem. I fear this may be the case for me, as well! Not,simply, a total destruction; rather, I fear my failure to acknowledge the presence of God in particular areas of my life could lead to destructive behavior. Without a clear reliance upon God, I can only rely upon my imperfect self.
Reliance upon God, who is present in the midst of our life, becomes especially apparent to me during the events of Holy Week! Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and (especially) Easter Sunday present us with the opportunity to celebrate the presence of God in the person of Jesus. We may overlook the presence of God in our life from time to time, but let us not overlook the presence of God in the person of Jesus this week! Not simply out of fear of the consequences; but, more so, out of a desire to encounter the One and True and to experience the sense awe elicited by His Son.
Do you question the presence of God in your life? Or, have you ever been astutely aware of God’s presence during a time in your life? I would love to hear so leave a comment below or send me an email at HamptonUMC@gmail.com. Please “Follow” my page so that you can be notified of my next post! Blessings…