“Can You Not See It?


By the Rev. Eric O. Ledermann March 20, 2011 – 2nd Sunday in Lent First Presbyterian Church, San Bernardino, CA

Luke 19.41-44 – Jesus Weeps Over Jerusalem (NRSV)
As he came near and saw the city, he wept over it, 42saying, “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
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surround you, and hem you in on every side. 44They 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.”

This text is part of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem toward the end of the Gospel of Luke. As he comes down from the Mount of Olives, people gather, lay their cloaks down on the road for him to walk across, praising God joyfully, saying, “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven, and glory in the highest heaven!” As he nears the city, he looks upon it and is overcome as he weeps over it. This part doesn’t get shared on Palm Sunday or any time in the Revised Common Lectionary. As we read this gospel, this is a critical moment, but it does not make it in to our normal cycle of scripture readings on Sunday mornings. Yet, it shares so much of what Jesus had been trying to do, his whole reason for even coming to the city, knowing he was going to die. Jesus did not come to upset anyone or make anyone angry. He did not come to overthrow the Jewish leadership or even overthrow the Romans. His sole purpose was to remind the people of God’s desire to be in relationship with them, God’s desire for them to live in peace with their Creator and all of God’s creation. Yet, they could not see beyond their fears, their selfish anger, or their regrets. They could not see that, through Jesus, God was reaching out. And, for this, Jesus wept.

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© 2011 The Rev. Eric O. Ledermann, San Bernardino, CA. All rights reserved.

His tears were tears for what could have been, tears for what was still possible! They were tears for a people loved by a God who’s love is overwhelming. They were tears for what had to happen now to prove that point. God did not give Jesus up to die, so much as Jesus gave himself up to the fears, the anger, and the stifling regrets of humanity to prove that God’s love can conquer even those things! By God’s grace, Jesus gave himself up to prove that God’s love conquers everything and anything we can throw at it. It’s odd isn’t it, that we long for a God we keep pushing away? We long for a deep relationship with a God who will cure our mistrust, heal our fears, and make our hate obsolete. Yet, every time God gets a little too close to those tender places we don’t even allow ourselves to get near, we push our all-powerful, all-loving, all-healing God away. We reject our Creator just as the people, despite celebrating his praises, rejected Jesus by week’s end. God did not crucify Jesus, the weakness of the people to repel the hate and fear of their leadership crucified him. Our inability to trust the peace of God’s forgiveness, the peace which surpasses all understanding, that’s what crucified Jesus. Our inability to accept God’s overwhelming love crucified him. And for this, our inability to trust God’s grace for our own lives, Jesus wept over the city…and Jesus weeps over us. Every time we hold on to a grudge and allow it to eat at us and destroy us, Jesus weeps. Every time we spread gossip and rumors about people, whether or not they are true, Jesus weeps … for us. Every time we ignore our God-given gifts and refuse to use them for God’s kingdom, Jesus weeps. Every time we reject those whom God loves, Jesus weeps. Every time we ignore the presence of God in our neighbors, every time we even think negative thoughts about a person, demonizing them because it makes it so much easier to dislike or even hate them, Jesus weeps. Every time we do not engage the kingdom of God that is all around us, the kingdom of love and acceptance, the kingdom of grace and peace, Jesus weeps not just over us, but for us because it is sad. Here God reaches out, offers us hope and salvation from all the negativity this world bombards us with, offering us a new life, an opportunity to be born again into the world God made, as opposed to the one we so often make for ourselves, and, yet, we can’t believe it, we can’t trust it, and more often than not, we can’t accept it. It is sad.

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© 2011 The Rev. Eric O. Ledermann, San Bernardino, CA. All rights reserved.

Jesus weeps because he knew what was possible. He weeps because he knows what we are capable of, he knows our potential—our God-given potential. God created us not to hate and despise and kill one another, but to love and welcome and help one another. God created us to be in community with our Holy Creator and with God’s creation, which includes living in compassionate community with one another. Yes, it means holding one another accountable, not out of hate or jealousy or “ah ha, gotcha!”, but out of love and the same sense of potential Jesus sees in us. It means helping one another when someone is in need, and then when we’ve received help, passing that grace on to others when they need help (that’s the point of the story of the Good Samaritan…that even our enemies can be our saviors, our helpers, our friends, and that we are called upon by God to share that grace and compassion even with those wehateor who hate us). It means taking stock of our lives and recognizing, honestly, where we have wronged others and where we have been wronged, and then seeking forgiveness and reconciliation in all circumstances. Only then are we able to come to this place, kneel before this table, and humbly share in the feast that Jesus prepares on our behalf. So I ask you, do you have any “what ifs” in your life? Do you have any relationships you wish might have turned out differently? Are you holding on to a grudge that is hurting you and eating you up inside? Are you hanging on to jealousies or hurts that you need to acknowledge to yourself and for which you need to seek healing? Do you have tears of sadness for what might have been that need to be shed? Do you have tears of regret? Do not let the sun go down on your tears. It is not too late. The resurrection of Jesus Christ means a lot of things, and one of those things, I believe, is that with God it is never too late. Everyone thought after Jesus was crucified that it was too late now, all was lost. But God had a different plant, and three days later God revealed that not even death can make it “too late.” But don’t wait for death. Think about what is possible now in your life and in the life of others. Imagine what is possible if we allowed our lives to be truly transformed by God’s love, God’s overwhelming love. Imagine the tears we could freely share, shedding us of the fear, the hatred, the disappointment, the jealousy, the grudges, the regrets. Imagine being

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© 2011 The Rev. Eric O. Ledermann, San Bernardino, CA. All rights reserved.

free of the pressure that weighs us down and blocks us from living freely in the kingdom of God, not somewhere in the future, but here and now, in this life. Imagine the scales falling from your eyes and your eyes opening to the world as God sees it. Imagine opening your eyes to the potential that exists all around us. The kingdom of God is indeed near, and Jesus wept and still weeps today because people can not see it. Can you not see it? It is right here, in this very room. It is right here, in this very community. It is right here, in this city, this state, this country, this world. All we have to do is open our eyes and see what God sees—the potential, the possibility, the hope of a better world, a world of mutual respect, mutual compassion, mutual love, especially between those who might still see things differently. Can you not see it? It is already within us. It is part of our genetic makeup, manifested in our desires for acceptance, our desires to not only receive love but also our deep desire to freely offer love. It is a part of who we are because we are God’s and God is within us. Those tears welling up inside you are signs of the living water that is within us. They are the hope for a better world where all are fed, all are cared for, and all recognize their honored place in the kingdom that God has prepared for us. Friends, can you not see it now?

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© 2011 The Rev. Eric O. Ledermann, San Bernardino, CA. All rights reserved.