|In a dimly lit hotel room, woman after woman went around the circle sharing prayer requests. The intimacy of a women’s retreat had softened all of our hearts to a tender vulnerability.
One woman shared about the healing her child desperately needed. Another confided her heartbreak over a rift in her family. Several others asked us to pray for them to be able to forgive someone.
Finally, we came to a woman with tears streaming down her face. “I need you to pray for me to stop crying,” she explained. “My heart is so broken for those around me who don’t know Jesus. I’m overcome. I can barely function through the sorrow.”
The room seemed to fade as my mind wandered to an event that happened thousands of years ago — Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem before the Passover.
The beginning of the story found in Luke 19 is joyful. Jesus had sent two disciples ahead to get a colt for Him, fulfilling yet one more prophecy of the Messiah found in the Old Testament book of Zechariah. As Jesus rode along, the people lined the roads spreading their cloaks before Him.
On what we now call Palm Sunday, the crowd of disciples cried out:
“‘Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!’”
“‘Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!’” (Luke 19:38, NIV)
Yet in the midst of it all, Jesus wasn’t basking in this extravagant praise. Instead, He was overcome with sorrow:
“As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, ‘If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace — but now it is hidden from your eyes. The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you.’” (Luke 19:41-44, NIV)
Jesus was heartbroken, but not over the comparatively minor subjects that can dominate my emotions. His lament was over the fact that He was the long-awaited Savior, and the people had missed Him.
God had extended His hand of mercy and grace through Jesus, and the world turned away.
You and I live in the same kind of world today. It’s a world turning away from what Jesus offers — and what we so desperately need.
While He still extends peace, grace and forgiveness, sometimes I struggle to see my need for it. Or maybe somehow, I think I can earn goodness on my own. So I end up choosing sin over saving, self over a Savior. Jesus didn’t shed just a few tears over this rejection. The strong word “wept” expresses His deep grief for a lost world. I want more of that.
The woman’s soft crying brought me fully back into our prayer circle, and she repeated, “Please pray for me to stop crying.”
“I can’t,” I whispered. “Please pray for me to start crying. Pray for me to have a heart that’s tender and weeps over the lost like yours … and like Jesus’.”
This is the beginning of our Holy Week, just days from Easter, when we rejoice in Jesus’ resurrection and life. But before we rejoice, I want to pause for a moment to weep for this lost world, just as Jesus wept over Jerusalem. Let’s sob and mourn and wail. Let’s convert our grief into pleas to God for people to wake up and feel their need for an intimate relationship with a living God. He’s still in the business of bringing dead things to life.
Dear Jesus, I plead for You to give me Your grief over the people who have missed You and rejected You. This Easter, remind me just how much I need You. Help me see Your grace. Grant me that divine combination of sorrow and tenderness that points people to the cross and to new Life. Dear God, give me Your heart for my world, to see the desperate need for salvation we all have. In Jesus’ Name, Amen