[Jesus continued:] "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones God's messengers! How often I have wanted to gather your children together as a hen protects her chicks beneath her wings, but you wouldn't let me. And now, look, your house is abandoned and desolate. For I tell you this, you will never see me again until you say, 'Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the Lord!'"
— Matthew 23:37-39 NLT
Cities have always made a key impact on the heart of God. They are places of crime and evil, but they are also places of people with great need. They are places of power and government, and they are places of family and friends. But Jerusalem was special. Under the Old Testament, it was the place of God's dwelling, the Temple (1 Samuel 4:4; 1 Kings 6:19). It was the city of sojourn, where Israelites came from all over the world on pilgrimages.
Jerusalem was also the city of rejection when it refused Jesus. Jesus knows this rejection means Jerusalem is headed for destruction. Her people have not just rejected him; they have also rejected hope, promise, and future. Jesus will die outside the city of Jerusalem, rejected by every level of religious and civil authority. Jerusalem will not recognize Jesus as the promised king and thereby seal her own fate. It is a time of great sorrow.
The Old Testament rises up and haunts us with its great stories of deliverance for Jerusalem. It reminds us of God's love for the people of a city, even the great cities of Israel's enemies. So we know that Jesus' tears are God's tears for his people, their city, and their future. God longs for the cities to ring with the cry, "Jesus is Lord." But Jerusalem will have none of it.
While we join Jesus in weeping for Jerusalem, we must recognize that Jerusalem is no longer God's special dwelling place, Jesus' people and Jesus' church are (1 Corinthians 3:16-17; 1 Peter 2:5-10). Believers await a turning to Jesus of true Israelites, the new Jerusalem coming down from heaven, and "the Lord God Almighty and and the Lamb" being their temple (Revelation 21:2, 10, 22)!
O Lord, God of the ages, please bless the great cities of our land. May we help take the name of Jesus to the people of these cities so they will not be lost without hope and without you. Give me a heart more like your own for the cities. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.