What Kind of Love
Matthew 23:37, "Oh Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones God's messengers! How often I have wanted to gather your children together as a hen protects her chicks beneath her wings, but you wouldn't let me" (NLT).
I read through Matthew chapter twenty-three the other day and... wow. I've heard it said before that Jesus is always good, but He is not always nice. Good and nice are not the same thing. And we see the depths of that concept explode in this passage.
Jesus goes on what some might call a vocal rampage. He starts by telling the Pharisees and religious leaders how prideful and self-righteous they are. He says they turn their disciples into twice the children of hell they are (ouch!).
He goes on to say they are complete and total hypocrites. He calls them liars. He calls them filthy, greedy, self-indulgent hypocrites who look beautiful on the outside but wreak with the stench of death on the inside. He calls them snakes, sons of vipers. He calls them corrupt, lawless murderers.
I have to admit, having seen only snippets of the evil mankind is capable of in this world during my almost thirty years of existence; when I think of all the stories I've heard of wicked abuse and oppression, a huge part of me is erupting in celebration at Jesus' speech.
I see His righteous anger and I am comforted knowing that He sees the injustice in the world and He cares. He cares A LOT.
But then He does something that takes us even deeper into His heart. He grieves for the wicked people He just verbally harpooned. He grieves for them and He says with emotion, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem... How often I have wanted to gather your children together as a hen protects her chicks beneath her wings, but you wouldn't let me. And now, look, your house is abandoned and desolate." (Matthew 23:37-38, NLT).
What great love is this, that not only speaks up for the oppressed and confronts tyrants, but at the same time grieves for those same tyrants.
Jesus loves the innocent and oppressed. He fights for them. And at the same time He loves and grieves for the wicked.
We think about our longings all the time... but does it ever occur to us that Jesus has longings of His own? He expresses the longings of His heart in this passage and it's beautiful. He longs for people--even wicked evil people--to repent, accept His forgiveness, and find comfort and safety in Him.