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Apr 11 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

Day Seventy-three – Matthew 23:34-39

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you
Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling. Behold, your house is being left to you desolate!. Matthew 23:37-38

We can hear sorrow in Jesus’ voice as he looks to the horizon of Jerusalem’s future and predicts disaster (v. 36). Even though he was persecuted and rejected by Israel’s religious leaders, the Lord did not relish the brutal fate that was going to catch up to them. He did not denounce Jerusalem with the fiery vengeance of an angry prophet, but grieved over them as a brokenhearted father who wanted all of his children to run to his home for shelter.

We are more resistant to God than we realize. If he comes to us in an unfamiliar form, if he says things we do not want to hear, if he challenges our cherished dogma, or wants to teach us something new, we dig in our heels and push against him. Only we do not realize we are pushing against God. We think we are driving away that annoying, crazy prophet. We may not kill and stone those who try to awaken us to God’s message for today, but we do reject, malign, and blackball them.

How sad for Jerusalem! They would effectively run Jesus out of the temple and then have all to themselves an empty shell. “Behold, your house is being left to you desolate!” In winning this battle, they would lose everything.

Forgive us, Lord, for our smug criticism of the Pharisees and scribes because in their determination to preserve a religious tradition they lost sight of the God they claimed to serve. We have followed in their footsteps. We have drifted toward peripheral concerns rather than the “weightier provisions” of Your will. We have put more energy into defending what we believe than becoming the kind of people whose good works glorify You. We have learned so much and understood so little. Forgive us, and, for the sake of our Savior’s tears, draw us under Your wings.

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