We have been following Jesus’ steps through the book of Luke as he has been focused on his ultimate destiny in Jerusalem. In today’s reading, he arrives. But before he gets there, he sees Jerusalem off in the distance. You know that feeling when you’ve been traveling for a long distance and then you see it – your destination ahead. A bit of relief, some joy, realization that you are almost there!
As kids, my brother and I played a little game when we were going to visit our grandparents. We would look for the town’s water tower in the distance. Each time, it was such a cool moment when it finally came into view. I take that memory and think of Jesus coming up on Jerusalem. But for Jesus, this was bittersweet. Jerusalem, the holy city, the royal city, was the place where he would suffer and be killed. Let that sink in for just a moment.
So, we see a different side of Jesus in today’s reading. We see extreme sadness to the point of weeping. The emotions he was feeling were so real and raw. Jesus felt those just like we do in life when there is nothing to do but cry. Jesus mourned not for himself but for the city and those who were missing out. When we think of people today who don’t know Jesus, we should have that same sadness. We have been called to do something about that!
We also see Jesus burst into rage. He is angry to see how people have taken over the temple and turned it into a marketplace. He says to them, “The Scriptures declare, ‘My Temple will be a house of prayer,’ but you have turned it into a den of thieves.”
Jesus was nearing the end of his earthly life, and his human emotions were on high alert. He cried, and he got angry. Those are not the pictures of our Savior often formed in our minds. How does it make you feel to know Jesus had these emotions, too?
We will see now the serious plotting has begun. For now, Jesus’ audience is growing and loving him. They are hanging on his every word. We will hear some of these teachings in future reflections here. Jesus will teach and be challenged. All in the final days and hours of his life. We will want to pay special attention to these messages. These become, in essence, Jesus’ final words to us. Of course, we have all the gospels, and the apostle’s letters to follow to hear from the heart of God. Nonetheless, we should be like the people and hang on to every word.
Let’s pray. Father, it’s good to see the human side of Jesus. He lived as one of us so that you could understand our human condition. Yet he never sinned. His intentions and goals were always in alignment with you and your will. He did not falter, despite many temptations. Help me to be more like that, resistant to outside pressures and temptations to walk outside your will. Make it crystal clear to me what direction you want me to take. Thank you for your love, your guidance, your example in Jesus. Bring to me today those people who I can serve. In Jesus’ name. Amen.