Jerusalem, Jerusalem . . . how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings. Matthew 23:37
“Mr. Singerman, why are you crying?” asked twelve-year-old Albert as he watched the master craftsman construct a wooden box.
“I cry,” he said, “because my father cried, and because my grandfather cried.” The woodworker’s answer to his young apprentice provides a tender moment in an episode of Little House on the Prairie. “Tears,” explained Mr. Singerman, “come with the making of a coffin.”
“Some men don’t cry because they fear it is a sign of weakness,” he said. “I was taught that a man is a man because he can cry.”
Emotion must have welled up in the eyes of Jesus as He compared His concern for Jerusalem to the care of a mother hen for her chicks (Matthew 23:37). His disciples were often confused by what they saw in His eyes or heard in His stories. His idea of what it meant to be strong was different. It happened again as they walked with Him from the temple. Calling His attention to the massive stone walls and magnificent decor of their place of worship (24:1), the disciples noted the strength of human accomplishment. Jesus saw a temple that would be leveled in ad 70.
Christ shows us that healthy people know when to cry and why. He cried because His Father cares and His Spirit groans for children who couldn’t yet see what breaks His heart.
In what situations in your life might you be avoiding grief? How can your faith in a Savior who cries (John 11:35) help you express your grief in a healthy way?
Father, please replace any cold illusions of strength I cling to with a growing understanding of the cares and concerns that break Your heart for children like me.
Scholars believe Jesus made the statements about the temple in Matthew 24 two days prior to His crucifixion. The temple was a source of great national pride for the Jewish people. Constructed by Herod the Great, it was twice as large as Solomon’s temple and served as the centerpiece of national faith. Not surprisingly, Jesus’ prophecy about the temple’s destruction was literally fulfilled. Josephus the historian, who was with the Romans at the temple’s destruction, has left us an eyewitness account of that event. The destruction was thorough, with only a portion of the Western Wall left standing.
At Jesus’ crucifixion, the miraculous tearing in two of the temple curtain signified the end of the system of animal sacrifice for sin (Matthew 27:51; Mark 15:38; Luke 23:45), yet these ineffective sacrifices did continue for a time. The destruction of the temple in ad 70 put an end to the practice.