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Archive for the ‘Luke 19’ Category

 In the story of the triumphal entry, on Palm Sunday, Jesus is presenting himself as a king to the capital of his people – Jerusalem. But then, in Luke’s telling of the story, Jesus pauses before he enters the city and speaks. And this is what I want us to look at today under the title “Are You Ready for a Visit from God?”

Luke 19:41-44 – “And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, ‘Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation.’”

I would like to pick up on this last phrase “the time of your visitation”  to make the point that . . .

This was a visitation from God

God was coming to Jerusalem in the coming of Jesus. Now this idea is not new. God “visiting” people is a regular theme in Scripture:

  • The exodus – when God came to see Israel’s suffering in Egypt and deliver them – this is called a visitation of God in Genesis 50:25.
  • The return from exile in Babylon is a visitation of God. Jeremiah 29:10 says, “For thus says the Lord: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place.” And God brought them back to Judah.
  • The second coming – when Jesus will return and all humanity will stand before him is called “the day of visitation” in 1 Peter 2:12.

God doesn’t just visit in these big kinds of events. God also visits people throughout the course of history, even just individuals:

  • Ruth 1:6 says, Ruth heard that  “the Lord had visited his people and given them food” – at a time of famine. God provided for his people in a specific situation.
  • Luke 7:16 notes that the people said “God has visited his people!” when Jesus raised a young man from the dead.
  • Acts 15:14 speaks of the giving of the Spirit to Cornelius and his family as a visit from God. 

As you can see, God does various things in his visits – acts of mercy and salvation, the giving of the Spirit, miracles, and provision of needs. In other places, that we could look at, God even comes to visit judgment on people. God does various things when he comes for a visit.

In our story, on Palm Sunday, God is coming to give them “peace.” This word means wholeness and blessing; it means salvation. Jesus is coming to fulfill the promises of God to his people. But . . .

Jerusalem wasn’t ready for God’s visit

They were clueless. Jesus already knew this. He had already predicted before – “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed . . .” – Luke 9:22.  And all this in Jerusalem.

So he knew they weren’t aware of what God was doing:

  • As he says in v. 42 –  “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes.”
  • And he says in v. 44  – “you did not know the time of your visitation”

They didn’t know what was going on.  As a result of this, they don’t receive Jesus, or the peace he brings. As the story goes on to tell, they oppose what God is trying to do through Jesus.

Instead of peace (because they weren’t ready and opposed Jesus) they receive God’s judgment. Luke 19:43-44 says, “For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you . . ..”

This is a reference to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD about 40 years later. This was a horrendous event where many hundreds of thousands died and the city was destroyed. This is prophesied here by Jesus and carried out by the Roman armies.

And this causes Jesus to weep, as v. 41 says, “when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it.” He knew what was coming.

This is a sad story from history, but we shouldn’t let it stop there – thinking only of the past and of other people. Because this has to do with us. And we can learn from this. That’s because –

God still visits us today

I am sure we can each testify of times when God has visited our lives. How God has come to us in a powerful way and has blessed us. But God doesn’t just visit us as individuals. God also visits churches. And this is what I am focusing on today.

An example of this is Revelation 3:20. Jesus says, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.” This is a familiar passage. This is not talking about an individual being saved (despite any sermons you may have heard or tracts you have seen). This is Jesus talking to a whole congregation – the church of Laodicea. His purpose is to get them back on track again with their Christian lives and to remold their Christian community.

And this is framed in visitation language. Jesus is visiting them – coming by for supper – as it were. God visits us as congregations.

And so I ask – “Does God want to visit us at Cedar Street?” I don’t know what you believe, but I believe the answer is unequivocally – yes!

As we pray and seek the Lord, I believe that God has something for us.

  • I believe that God wants to bless us and give us more of his Spirit.
  • I believe that God want to show us more of who he is and do great things in our midst.
  • I believe God wants to bring his salvation to us and through us to others.
  • I believe that God wants to challenge us, to move us out of our ruts and comfort zones and push us forward.

But, after reading the story of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, we have to ask ourselves – 

Are we ready?

We are not different than the people in our story – the people of Jerusalem. That is to say, we are just as capable of blowing it as they were.

The people of Jerusalem were busy with their schedules and so are we. The people of Jerusalem were satisfied with the way things were, by and large, and don’t need Jesus coming in and changing things. And so often we are satisfied with the way things are.

So what I am saying is that we need to be alert and not just coasting in our Christian lives and in our congregational discernment.

May we not be caught unaware as God seeks to move among us, as I believe he will. May God’s visit not be hidden from our eyes so that we don’t know the time of our visitation.

In the language of Revelation 3:20 May we hear Jesus’ voice when knocks on our churches door and may we let him in.

Let us be alert and let us receive what God has for us as he moves in our midst. William Higgins

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