The Weeping God

Luke 19.28-48

I’m preaching on Luke 19.28-48 tomorrow. What a corker! The verse central to the section is:

“As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it” (Luke 19:41 NIV11)

Jesus weeping. It’s not the first time (John 11.35) and he’s not the only one (Luke 7.13; 8.52; Romans 9.2-3) But why now? Why here? Is he weak? Is he controlled by his emotions? Are the tears motivated by regret, fear or horror? The word translated ‘weep” could equally be ‘wailed’. Jesus burst into sobbing. Something serious and meaningful is happening. But what? Let’s note three things:

  1. Jesus saw things as they really were. The crowd rejoiced (19.37), but Jesus wept. It was not that they should not rejoice, just that they could not see the bigger picture. How we all struggle with this. Are we willing to accept the reality of where we are in our faith, our relationships, our parenting, our marriage? Or are we so blind as to not see and admit where we are in the wrong, where we are weak, and where we need help? Are we also ready to accept the lostness of the world around us? We do not need to despair, but we do well to lament.
  2. Jesus lamented the lost opportunity. He did all he could to speak truth and act in love so as to convince people that the kingdom was coming/had come. Yet, the vast majority of the people who heard him, saw his miracles and felt his love did not respond. Jerusalem (city of peace) was to be a war zone in a few years. It’s ironic, but terribly sad, that the city of peace does not know how to enjoy peace. Has God put an opportunity before you to respond to his love? Take it while you can. You do not know how long you have.
  3. Jesus wept for others, not himself. The self-forgetfulness of Jesus is inspiring and, in fact, divine.¹ He was not weeping because he was to suffer and die in the city spread out before him. That would be reason enough, but his focus was not, and had never been, on himself. He knew God had a plan and, though it would be difficult, it was a good plan – for the the people he could help. How tragic, then, that those he longed to help and could help, are the very people rejecting such help. No wonder he wept!

Why is Jesus weeping? Because he saw things as they really were, because he longed to gather people to a place of peace with God, and because he knew how much he could help.

He did not weep every day, and neither should that be our goal, but a little weeping could go a long way to help us have the heart of Messiah.

God bless,

Malcolm

¹For more on this see Keller’s excellent short book:

Here’s just one quote, “The way the normal human ego tries to fill its emptiness and deal with its discomfort is by comparing itself to other people. All the time.” Jesus is so different, he feels no need to make comparisons. Instead, his energy is used for compassion.

What we’re reading: “Zeal Without Burnout”: “What is Burnout?” – VIDEO

Burnout happens when helpful pressure goes on too long, or is allowed to rise to an unhealthy level.
Where burnout leads to a loss of a role or the experience of “failure”, it may produce guilt or shame or low self esteem, which get bound up in the experience of low mood and depression.
There are connections with chronic fatigue, exhaustion, lethargy and depression.
Warning signs include: sleeplessness; persistent feelings of nervousness; low mood, tears, lethargy and exhaustion; poor judgement and moral lapses.
Practical steps: give others permission if they notice signs; conduct regular reviews; find someone who can speak truth into our situation.

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What we’re reading: “Zeal Without Burnout”: “What is Burnout?” – AUDIO

Burnout happens when helpful pressure goes on too long, or is allowed to rise to an unhealthy level.
Where burnout leads to a loss of a role or the experience of “failure”, it may produce guilt or shame or low self esteem, which get bound up in the experience of low mood and depression.
There are connections with chronic fatigue, exhaustion, lethargy and depression.
Warning signs include: sleeplessness; persistent feelings of nervousness; low mood, tears, lethargy and exhaustion; poor judgement and moral lapses.
Practical steps: give others permission if they notice signs; conduct regular reviews; find someone who can speak truth into our situation.

 

What we’re reading: “Zeal Without Burnout: Conclusion”


Conclusion: I will serve the Lord. Don’t be soft! Luke 9. 23–24. Don’t despair! There may be scars, and some of those scars may be unavoidable; but always there is grace in our weakness. Do a self-check. Am I giving myself enough time for sleep? Am I taking care with regular days off? Am I investing in godly friendships? Am I self aware about how God gives me inward renewal? How much do I care what people think of me as a Christian? Do I believe the promises of God? Am I rejoicing in the free grace of God towards me? Make a resolution.
I am – and will never, this side of the resurrection, be more than – a creature of dust. I will rest content in my creaturely weakness; I will use the means God has given me to keep going in this life while I can; I will allow myself time to sleep; I will trust him enough to take a day off each week; I will invest in friendships and not be a proud loner; I will take with gladness the inward refreshment he offers me. I will serve the Lord Jesus with a glad and restful zeal with all the energy that he works within me; but not with anxious toil, selfish ambition, the desire for the praise of people, and all the other ugly motivations that will destroy my soul. So help me God.

What we’re reading: “Zeal Without Burnout: Conclusion” – AUDIO

Conclusion: I will serve the Lord. Don’t be soft! Luke 9. 23–24. Don’t despair! There may be scars, and some of those scars may be unavoidable; but always there is grace in our weakness. Do a self-check. Am I giving myself enough time for sleep? Am I taking care with regular days off? Am I investing in godly friendships? Am I self aware about how God gives me inward renewal? How much do I care what people think of me as a Christian? Do I believe the promises of God? Am I rejoicing in the free grace of God towards me? Make a resolution.
I am – and will never, this side of the resurrection, be more than – a creature of dust. I will rest content in my creaturely weakness; I will use the means God has given me to keep going in this life while I can; I will allow myself time to sleep; I will trust him enough to take a day off each week; I will invest in friendships and not be a proud loner; I will take with gladness the inward refreshment he offers me. I will serve the Lord Jesus with a glad and restful zeal with all the energy that he works within me; but not with anxious toil, selfish ambition, the desire for the praise of people, and all the other ugly motivations that will destroy my soul. So help me God.

What we’re reading: “Zeal Without Burnout: Delight!” – VIDEO

A delight: rejoice in grace, not gift – Luke 10.17–20. Rejoice that your name is in heaven, not in achievements. If joy is to motivate us to gospel work, then joy must be rooted in something outside of the fruits of our work. When our joy comes from our gifts and our successes, we will always be under pressure.
The remedy is to glory much in grace. It is a privilege to be used in ministry; but it is a much greater privilege to be recipients of grace.

 

What we’re reading: “Zeal Without Burnout: Delight!” – AUDIO

A delight: rejoice in grace, not gift – Luke 10.17–20. Rejoice that your name is in heaven, not in achievements. If joy is to motivate us to gospel work, then joy must be rooted in something outside of the fruits of our work. When our joy comes from our gifts and our successes, we will always be under pressure.
The remedy is to glory much in grace. It is a privilege to be used in ministry; but it is a much greater privilege to be recipients of grace.

 

What we’re reading: “Zeal Without Burnout”: Endure! – AUDIO

Jesus said, in John 4.31–34, “My food is to do the will of him who sent to me and to finish his work.” He finished that work, John 19.30. Jesus work ended – so it seemed – in failure, but we know different – 1 Corinthians 15.58.

A prayer:

Lord, make my life of service worth something; make it sure. May it be that, at the end of time, this collection of dust, this temporary mortal frail feeble sinful Christian may have achieved something by your grace that will last to eternity.
Ministry is ministry in a messed up world. And there is Grace in the disruption, for it humbles me; it shows me afresh my total dependence upon God.

 

What we’re reading: “Zeal Without Burnout”: Endure! – VIDEO

Jesus said, in John 4.31–34, “My food is to do the will of him who sent to me and to finish his work.” He finished that work, John 19.30. Jesus work ended – so it seemed – in failure, but we know different – 1 Corinthians 15.58.

A prayer:

Lord, make my life of service worth something; make it sure. May it be that, at the end of time, this collection of dust, this temporary mortal frail feeble sinful Christian may have achieved something by your grace that will last to eternity.
Ministry is ministry in a messed up world. And there is Grace in the disruption, for it humbles me; it shows me afresh my total dependence upon God.

What we’re reading: “Zeal Without Burnout”: “A warning: beware celebrity!”

John 5.41 – Jesus did not accept glory from human beings. We have chosen a work the world despises, or at best considers marginal and odd. We are unlikely to get affirmation from the world, therefore it is all the more tempting to seek it from the congregation, or other church leaders. Psalm 146v3 – do not put your trust in princes. Suggestion: pray that Jesus will grow greater and we will grow less, John 3.30. We follow a master who “did not please himself” – Romans 15.3.