In a dingy Washington D.C. Metro stop, a world renowned violinist, purposely unassuming in jeans and a baseball hat, once played some of the most beautiful classical masterpieces known to man.
Johann Sebastian Bach's "Chaconne."
Schubert's "Ave Maria."
Manuel Ponce's "Estrellita."
Ravishingly stunning music.
Barely anyone noticed. Tips = $32.17.
In a social experiment conducted in 2007, Joshua Bell, a Grammy award-winning violinist, performed in front of nearly 1,000 passerbys to see if they would recognize beauty and genius.
This wasn't the first time that a group of people missed the actuality of what was right in front of them. In the book of Luke, we are told of a moment in history where many failed to comprehend what was in their midst.
Recognizing Beauty and Genius in Plainer Terms.
In chapter 19 of the book of Luke, we find two of Jesus' disciples sent to get a young donkey for him to ride on into Jerusalem. This journey into a Mideastern city was what would become to be known as Jesus' triumphal entry, signaling the beginning of his messiahship.
Many in Jerusalem thought Jesus was going to be a political and social liberator, but Jesus was embarking into this city to extend to them something particular: spiritual deliverance.
As the story goes, Jesus descends from the Mount of Olives, a mountain ridge in East Jerusalem, towards the city where the crowds begin to place their clothes on the ground to greet Jesus.
Palms branches are swaying.
Jubilant shouts of "Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord" are squalled.
Hope is thick.
Other than his rebuke of the Pharisees who questioned the boisterousness of the disciples joining in on the praise of Jesus, we aren't told much more about this exultant trek into Jerusalem. Jesus concludes his ride and finds his way outside of the city, taking a position on a vista, overlooking Jerusalem.
From this panorama, what once was a gleeful affair begins to turn somber. Jesus scans Jerusalem and he begins to weep.
Weeping is different than crying. Crying could be weeping, but weeping is not necessarily crying. Weeping precludes that this was a deep, forceful mourning. Jesus' chest was probably heaving. Tears were flowing freely.
Jesus knows, because he is God incarnate, that within the week, these same people who were just lionizing him would quickly turn, being persuaded by the religious leaders of that day to call for his death by crucifixion. It would be a wild swing and Jesus was grieving.
In Luke 19:41-44, we see an even deeper reason why Jesus is saddened. Jesus proclaims, "Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace...because you did not know the time of your visitation."
When Jesus says to Jerusalem, "You did not know the time of your visitation," he means: You didn't know that my coming to you was the coming of God for your redemption, your salvation, your deliverance, your freedom.
Jerusalem was ignorant that the moment in time in which it lived was an utterly unequalled point in human history. God, in Jesus, had entered the world to declare his kingship and to assemble together his subjects into a new community. The people were by and large nescient and unaware of who was in their midst and the real reason he had come.
See, Jesus had come to reveal that he was God's great peace treaty. "Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace." The King of Kings was not coming to make war and conquer the world. He had come as a peacemaker. And not just peace on earth between man and man, but peace in heaven between God and man.
So how did Jesus intend to make peace between sinful people and a holy God?
Colossians 1:20 says that he made peace "by the blood of his cross."
Because Jesus was perfectly righteous, he was able to be our righteous substitute, accomplishing all that we neglected to do. And here, he is riding in on a donkey, not a warhorse -- a symbol he wants to make peace with us not warfare. He wants us to no longer be his enemies, but rather, his friends.
Theologian John Piper says it this way, "The king has come to his rebel subjects and offered peace terms while the time lasts. The terms of peace are simple: lay down your arms, especially the weapons of self-righteousness and self-sufficiency; admit your defeat; accept your full and free pardon and swear your allegiance to the new king in your life."
Earlier in Luke 13:34, Jesus had cried out, "How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings but you would not!"
Jesus wanted to bring his children to him, just like a mother hen would with her chicks, with outstretched and open arms. But the people in Jerusalem were oblivious to the overt. They were missing what was right in front of them.
Luke didn't record this text for us just to merely let us in on the broken heart of Jesus overlooking a city he loved, but to encourage us that he is always anxious and inclined to make peace with anyone who will accept the terms of peace he offers.
Friend, don't let Jesus get out of Jerusalem before you accept his terms of peace.
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