During Lent, we follow alongside Jesus as He makes his way toward Jerusalem one final time and prepares for His crucifixion and death. Looking over the city He loves, He weeps about what is yet to come: not His own death, but the eventual siege and destruction of Jerusalem by Rome that would take place in approximately forty years. Jesus laments, “If you, even you, had only recognized on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes.” (Luke 19:42, NRSV).
When Jesus was alive, most Jews thought that their Messiah would overthrow their oppressive Roman rulers. Yet Jesus preached of a Kingdom that was not like any other; in His Kingdom, the first would be last, violence would not be the answer, and peace was the greater way. Unfortunately, those who did not accept the upside-down ways of Jesus’ Kingdom eventually murdered Him on a Roman cross. Forty years later, Jewish rebels and Zealots tried to overthrow their Roman oppressors, but ended up causing Jerusalem’s destruction.
In 70 A.D., when the residents of Jerusalem were being met by battering rams, burning fire, and legions of Roman soldiers, would they remember Jesus’ words from nearly four decades earlier? Would they recall that His Kingdom was centered around humility and peace, not power and gain? Would they now recognize that Jesus had been God in flesh among them, calling them to a different way of life?
May we have ears to hear Christ’s message of peace. May we remember that peace is the greater way, and violence is never the answer in Christ’s Kingdom.