Jerusalem’s Destruction

By Thabo Makgoba

A Reading from the Gospel of Luke 19:41-48

41 As he came near and saw the city, he wept over it, 42 saying, “If you, even you, had only recognized on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. 43 Indeed, the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up ramparts around you and surround you, and hem you in on every side. 44 They will crush you to the ground, you and your children within you, and they will not leave within you one stone upon another; because you did not recognize the time of your visitation from God.”

45 Then he entered the temple and began to drive out those who were selling things there; 46 and he said, “It is written,
‘My house shall be a house of prayer’;
but you have made it a den of robbers.”

47 Every day he was teaching in the temple. The chief priests, the scribes, and the leaders of the people kept looking for a way to kill him; 48 but they did not find anything they could do, for all the people were spellbound by what they heard.

Meditation

Today, after Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, the gospel suddenly changes tone as he turns to look at the city spread before him and voices a sorrowful prophecy about its fate. He had longed that it might repent and seek what makes for peace, but its conduct failed up to live up to its name. The time would come when the city would be besieged, then captured with tremendous loss of life, all because it failed to recognize that God was longing to save it; that God had come to the Jews in the person of Jesus, but they failed to recognize him and rejected him.

Entering the temple, Jesus drives out the people who carried on commerce within its precincts. While their trade was associated with the needs of pilgrims, it was conducted in an unacceptable manner and had grown to alarming proportions. Jesus knows how soon the temple and its services were to be destroyed and the priesthood ended, but he would have us know that reverence is due to every place where God is worshipped.

As we prepare for Sunday services in our churches tomorrow, we pray for all places where God’s word will be shared, reflected on, and prayed over, and we pray also that those who worship will feel Christ’s presence and the power of the Holy Spirit to inspire our souls.

The Most Rev. Dr. Thabo Makgoba is Archbishop of the Diocese of Capetown, South Africa; metropolitan of the ecclesiastical province of Southern Africa; and chancellor of the University of the Western Cape.

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