But as he came closer to Jerusalem and saw the city ahead, he began to weep. “How I wish today that you of all people would understand the way to peace. But now it is too late, and peace is hidden from your eyes. Before long your enemies will build ramparts against your walls and encircle you and close in on you from every side. They will crush you into the ground, and your children with you. Your enemies will not leave a single stone in place, because you did not recognize it when God visited you.”
Luke 19:41-44 New Living Translation
The Passion Week narratives contain within themselves many subplots in the story of the relationship between God and humanity. One of these is the culmination of the rejection of Shalom (peace from God) by the leadership in Jerusalem. God’s desire for the descendants of Abraham had been from the beginning that they would be a symbol of His goodness, justice, peace, and blessing to all nations that would draw all people back into a relationship of trust and peace through Him. Time and time again, the leaders of Israel rejected this way of peace. At many key points in their history, they chose the ways of war and fear over peace. Instead of trusting the ways of God, they chose to imitate the ways of the world around them. In the events leading up to the death and resurrection of Jesus, they had reached another key point in this journey. Jesus came as the Prince of Peace to bring peace to His people. Still, they were unable (more likely, unwilling) to understand the way of peace and rejected Jesus in the process.
As He entered the city, Jesus saw dark days ahead for Jerusalem. Their ways of war and rebellion would catch up to them again forty years in the future when a band of Judeans would revolt against the Roman Empire and suffer the full force of Rome’s retribution lead by General Titus during the reign of Emporer Vespasian. Jesus looked into the future and saw Jerusalem placed under siege as the Roman army would build ramparts and bring destruction the city had not seen since it’s fall to Babylon. History tells us that the city was demolished by the Romans with only a few structures left standing. Many were executed by crucifixion and others were forced into service as gladiators or slave labor. Jesus tells those around that this coming destruction would be a result of their failure to recognize the presence of God in their midst and their rejection of His ways again.
Israel is not alone in their rejection of the way of peace. History is filled with examples of people who have chosen the ways of war, fear, and violence over the ways of the Prince of Peace. Each has eventually come to their own demise because of their choice. Each of us also has many turning points in our lives when we face a choice between following the Prince of Peace or continuing to live by the rules of a culture of death and war. For us, it’s a daily decision to trust the ways of Christ by seeking the good of others over the self-protective patterns of our culture. Jesus offers to live in our midst through His Spirit to bring us true peace. It’s up to us to be willing to live in the peace He offers.
Jesus, You offer us peace that our culture can never offer us. Help us to trust You to bring us the real peace that only You can give.