WEDNESAY, APRIL 26
SCRIPTURE: Matthew 23
Most of this chapter is a rather scathing denunciation of the activities of the Pharisees. Although there is much here that we could and should learn from, I want to take you to the end of the chapter. There we find about three verses that teach us much about Jesus, His mission, and us.
As verse 37 begins, we find Jesus lamenting over the city of Jerusalem. His grief is over the many opportunities for salvation that had been squandered over the centuries. Not only did the people of Jerusalem (Israel) not take advantage of the countless offers of help God sent their way, they actually mistreated and killed some of the prophets and messengers God sent to them.
But even with that history, we see Jesus’ amazing grace as He talks about how many times He would have come to gather His people and save them from the coming storm.
It is in that statement of “How many times would I… but you were not willing” that we find so much truth. Here we see evidence of divine sovereignty as well as human responsibility. God has chosen not to force His salvation on people. But He has also chosen not to change the consequences that are the result of our stubborn rejection. He truly has left the choosing up to us.
Jesus talks about how many times He would have gathered His people (brood) and protected them. But they would not allow it. Jesus was willing to take upon Himself the full force of the storm will protecting His people. But they would not allow it.
The result in verse 38 is their house would be left desolate. It is difficult to know if this reference to a house was about the Temple in Jerusalem or their individual homes. Regardless, the result was the same. In AD 70, the Roman armies destroyed the Temple to the point of tearing down the huge stones that made up its walls. Many homes in the city were destroyed at the same time. The city of Jerusalem experienced incredible devastation during that time.
On one hand, it would be easy for us to say that’s what the Jewish people deserved because of their consistent rejection of Jesus. Maybe we would even think they earned this sort of judgment. And perhaps, we would this would be the end of Jesus’ efforts to save the Jewish people.
But then we read in verse 39 about the promise of Jesus’ return. And upon this return, He will be greeted by His people with a statement from one of the great Messianic Psalms (Psalm 118).
So, what is the take away today? It is impossible for me to read these verses and think about these words without being struck by how longsuffering God really is with all of us. His patience is absolutely incredible. His patience may actually be scandalous. How can a holy God wait as long as He has for the likes of you and me? How can a holy God hold back eternal judgment when He would have been more than justified to pour it out a million times over? How can a holy God lament over the people who are satisfied to be so far from Him?
There is only one possible answer. That is who He has chosen to be.