Lenten Devotional: A City of Tears

Lenten Devotional: A City of Tears

Luke 13:31-35

“I have been to Jerusalem three times in my life. It is a beautiful place, and it breaks my heart.” I wrote that sentence reflecting on my own life’s journey, but it could have been written by Jesus too.

If you visit Jerusalem today you are dazzled by the site of the Dome of the Rock, the large Islamic shrine built over the place where various traditions believe Adam was created, Abraham attempted to sacrifice his son, and Muhammed began his night journey into heaven. Through the ages, it has been thought to be the spot where God’s divine presence was most powerfully present on earth. In Jesus’ day, there was an equally dazzling gold-plated structure on that site—Herod’s Temple.

But if you turn your eye aside from that beautiful landmark you see a city, like our own, that is rife with the divisions of humanity. In Jerusalem, and Indianapolis, too many live in poverty, too many are hungry, too many are homeless, to many abused, and too many devalued for who they are. No wonder Jesus cried.

Luke 13:31-35 is called “Jesus’ Lament over Jerusalem.” A lament is a statement of anguish. It is a declaration of what is not right. It is not an uncommon form of religious writing. In fact, there is a whole book in our scriptures called “Lamentations,” and many of the Psalms employ that genre.

That is good. There is an old adage that “you can’t fix what isn’t broken.” The corollary to that is “you can’t fix brokenness that is not recognized and acknowledged.”

Any meaningful change requires an honest acknowledgment of the situation.

Sadly, I believe that Jesus’ tears would flow freely today over Jerusalem and Indianapolis. Neither community manifests the harmony and peace that we believe reflects God’s desire for creation.

But Jesus, even in the fierce words of this passage, suggests a response beyond our tears. He talks of “casting out demons,” “performing cures,” and “gathering children,” like a hen gathers her brood under her wings.

There it is. Whether we live in Jerusalem or Indianapolis or somewhere else, Jesus bids us look at our world honestly, offering our own lament, but then to free those who are captive, heal those who are sick, and protect those who are vulnerable.


May our own tears, and those we see on the faces of others, motivate us this day.

Rick Spleth
Allisonville Christian Church
Indianapolis, IN