“When He approached Jerusalem, He saw the city and wept over it, saying, ‘If you had known in this day, even you, the things which make for peace! But now they have been hidden from your eyes.’” –Luke 19:41 & 42
At the tomb of His dear friend Lazarus was not the only time that Jesus wept. With the cross looming in the foreground, Jesus cried for the residents of Jerusalem. The Greek word for “wept” in Luke 19:41 is the term klaio, and it carries with it the idea of “loud wailing.” Jesus didn’t shed a few tears. He wailed for the condition of a sinful people. He saw the impending suffering that these people were about to endure and it moved Him to tears. It didn’t have to be this way. If the people would have accepted Him as the Messiah, then they would have known peace. But, alas, they forfeited that golden opportunity and it would cost them dearly.
Many Christians are outraged by the rampant immorality that persists in our culture. It’s truly maddening to hear and see the promotion of evil in a society that seems to care nothing about God and His will. We are truly living in a culture where many are calling evil good and good evil. But what I find just as disheartening is the response of so many Christians. Sadly, some of God’s children choose to spit venom rather than weep. Their anger over the godlessness of this culture leads them to resort to tactics that are highly unchristian. Rather than feeling immense sorrow, they allow hate to fill their hearts. Rather than looking at the ills of society through the eyes of Jesus, they see things with eyes of bitterness and utter disdain. Rather than praying for those promoting such sin and feeling immense concern for their soul, they systematically pick them apart through mocking and ridiculing. They ruin the opportunity to rescue the perishing because they’re too busy trying to destroy them. The sinner is seen as the enemy rather than the victim.
I understand the outrage. I do. There are certainly times when a strong rebuke is absolutely necessary. It should concern us when God’s word is being ignored, or when our Lord’s character is under fire. We must stand firm for the truth when it is under attack. However, we must not forget that souls are involved. There are many living in sin and promoting sin because they don’t know the truth. These folks don’t know the things that make for peace. They need to hear it from us. Like the residents of Jerusalem, they may forfeit the opportunity to know the Messiah but at least we gave them the opportunity. Remember, Jesus prayed for forgiveness for those who were driving the nails through His wrists and feet. Do we weep for the condition of our nation? Does our sorrow motivate us to do what we can to change hearts?
In March of 2008, the mayor of a city in southwest France faced a major problem. His village was running out of room. The overcrowding was not because of a population explosion. No, this village was running out of room for the dead. There was no more space in the local cemetery. In an effort to relive the problem, the mayor tried to purchase some land adjacent to the cemetery, but an administrative court would not allow it. Having no more space to bury their dead, the mayor did what most politicians would do. He passed a law. The ordinance read in part: “[A]ll persons not having a plot in the cemetery and wishing to be buried in Sapourenx are forbidden from dying in the parish…Offenders will be severely punished.”*
My friends, you and I both know that we cannot stop people from dying. We can, however, show compassion. We can seek to meet their most desperate need and, perhaps, keep them from dying spiritually. To do this, we must change our default response from anger to sorrow. As we gaze upon the state of our world, let us not forget to weep.
*No Room for Death? Article by Patrick D. Odum. http://www.heartlight.org/articles/200803/20080321_vacancy.html.