Sexagesima Week – Wednesday
O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth till ye shall say: Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord. — Matthew 23:37-39.
Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, by preaching and working miracles, had done so much for the people of Jerusalem in order to reveal Himself to them, but He had always been rejected. On this last Tuesday, in the temple, the chief priests, scribes, and elders of the people had continually harassed and tempted Him. They even held counsel how to kill Him. So now, in the presence of all the people, powerfully and repeatedly, Jesus cried “Woe” (Matthew 23:13-16, 23, 25, 27, 29) upon these murderous hypocrites. At last He said: “Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes, and some of them ye shall kill and crucify, and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city, that upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias, son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar. Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation” (vv. 34-36).
And then He pronounced upon whole Jerusalem, encrusted in unbelief, self-righteousness, and carnal-mindedness, the stirring as well as the portentous words written above. Yes, He often would have gathered Jerusalem, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, but they would not. As Jerusalem had always been a murderess of prophets, so even now it brooded murder against Him and His witnesses. Therefore, an end must be made of Jerusalem, and of the temple, and of the service, and of the people. And Him, the Savior, they were not to see henceforth, not until they shall see and hear Him on Judgment Day, when, with gnashing of their teeth, they shall be constrained to confess that it is He to whom they must say: “Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord” (v. 39b). The Lord Jesus told the Jews: “Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof” (Matthew 21:43). In this New Testament, we Gentiles enjoy membership in the Lord’s kingdom of grace, having been called by the Gospel, enlightened and sanctified by the Holy Ghost, working through “the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God” (Ephesians 6:17). Yet, according to our sinful nature, we are also guilty of despising God’s grace, at times neglecting the tender call of our Savior to gather under His wings. We should daily repent of this spiritual negligence, so that we “harden not [our] hearts” (Hebrews 3:7-8), resulting in the desolation of our spiritual household.
PRAYER. Lord Jesus, I thank Thee that, through Thy Gospel, Thou hast taken me under Thy saving wings and, to this point, hast kept me there! Continue to govern me, I implore Thee, by Thy Holy Spirit, working through Thy Word, lest, after all, I reject such grace. Grant that I may appreciate the same ever more and more, and accept it ever more thankfully, gladly hearing and learning Thy precious Word, living according to it, and being governed by it, to the end that, now, I may continue to know Thee as my gracious Savior, and when Thou shalt come again, that then I may joyfully enter the eternal mansions with Thee. Amen.
O Holy Spirit, grant us grace, that we our Lord and Savior, in faith and fervent love embrace, and truly serve Him ever;
so that when death is drawing nigh, we to His open wounds may fly, and find in them salvation.
(Hymn 293, st. 1; TLH)