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The Sins of a Nation

On Holy Week Jesus looked over the city of Jerusalem and grieved. He cried: “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.”

Jesus was experiencing a broken heart. What caused Jesus’ broken heart? Was He broken hearted about the sins the nation had committed? Just read about one of those kings in Israel and see how they led their nation to do the very opposite of what God asked, especially in the places of worship. It is bewildering. The ugliness of sinful behavior seems like it would be more than a holy God could take. Yet, that is not what broke Jesus’ heart. It wasn’t the thought of the woman brought to Him because of adultery or the many demons-possessed people He had confronted even in the synagogue, that came to mind. It wasn’t the outrageous acts of sin that broke His heart. It was their refusal to be in relationship.

Jesus was grieving because relationship was broken. The energy behind a fallen world is broken relationship whether it’s between people or with our God. What does that mean that relationship is broken? God was rejected over thousands of years by a nation who refused to have relationship because they could not see Who He was and what He meant by the instructions He gave them. God chose prophets who were willing to see Him, to instruct the people about how to be in relationship with Him. Sins were listed in the messages the prophets brought. People rejected the teaching. Jesus’ grief was about sin and it wasn’t about sin. When Jesus was saying that He wishes he could gather them together like a hen does her chicks, do you think he is worried about their horrendous, nasty and smelly sins? Does that action indicate that He was too holy to come near them in their putrid state of sin? He was motivated by relationship. We get the actions of sin in the wrong focus. Jesus came to give His all, but Jerusalem would not give Him the power to receive what He came to give.

Have you ever had your heart broken by the very people you are trying to help—your own family, husband, child? It is excruciating. Jesus wanted to give them His all, but they would not let Him. They needed to accept Him in order to have restored relationship with God. He wanted to give them what they needed, but it was up to them to give Him the power to do it and they refused.

God offered relationship revealed by Jesus’ broken heart as He looked over Jerusalem. Relationship is a two-way street. There will come a time when God gives up. When that time comes, there is nothing left for God to offer to the people who reject him. Unrepentant nations like unrepentant people must be grieved by the One who loves them and desires relationship.

What God wanted was to protect and keep that nation safe. Who did He want them safe from? Partly, He wanted them safe from His wrath, His holy anger. He told them who He was—a God of unfailing love. He told them who He was—a God who was holy and could not tolerate sin. He told them what He wanted; He gave them instructions about what was sin and what wasn’t sin. He promised to bless them when they obeyed His commands and to curse them when they didn’t.

Jesus was broken-hearted in His expression of the conglomeration of the utter rejection by the nation of Israel after He had consistently taught them about how to have a relationship with Him in this world. The people who were living in that nation at the time were not the only subject of His grief. It was their history that broke His heart. It was the previous generations who had lived and rejected His Father’s teaching combined who evoked His pain and agony. Every soul matters to God. Every soul will be grieved by Him when they have to face His wrath without the provision that Jesus’ life, death and resurrection offers to cover our sins. As you have spent a season of Lent deepening your awareness of your sins, don’t try to live better, but try to love God more fully, give Him the power to take you under His wings of protections, safety and comfort.


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