Jerusalem, if I forget you …
If I forget you, Jerusalem, may my right hand forget its skill. May my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth if I do not remember you, if I do not consider Jerusalem my highest joy. – Psalm 137:5-6 (NIV)
Elsie and I went to Jerusalem in May 2018. It was Pentecost while we were there, so we decided to “wait in Jerusalem” like Jesus told his first disciples. It also happened to be the beginning of Ramadan. What an unforgettable visit it was!
It is undeniable that there is something really special about Jerusalem. The place is, spiritually speaking, amped up! There are religious Jews studying, talking about and praying for the coming of the Messiah. There are evangelical Christians worshipping, teaching, prophesying and praying about the return of “Yeshua Ha Meshiach.” There are Muslims fasting, praying and teaching about the coming of the Mahdi. Needless to say, atmospherically, the city is buzzing with spiritual intensity!
Even so, we felt strangely at peace in the city. A highlight was the Garden Tomb, a beautiful garden sanctuary depicting the place where Jesus would have been crucified, buried and resurrected. Elsie and I spent half a day in that garden. We took our time to worship, pray, read and reflect on Jesus in this special space. It was a very meaningful time for both of us.
It was a swelteringly hot day. As I read the Scriptures and imagined the events of that fateful weekend 2000 years ago it struck me just how normal and “un-supernatural” everything would have been to the naked eye. When it is over 30°C and I’m feeling hot, sweating through every pore of my body, I don’t typically feel “spiritual”. Crucifixions were quite common in the Roman era so there would have been nothing – bizarrely – unusual about these specific events. As a result of the politics of Roman occupation, the tension in the atmosphere would already have been palpable. Anger, frustration, fear and anxiety would be having a field day! Even Jesus’ disciples deserted him in that moment of crisis; there was nothing overtly supernatural to prevent the terror which made them scatter.
Yes, the Gospels also record angelic activity and signs in the heavens, but those occurred privately and only observed by a few.
What I want to communicate here is that I was overcome with a fresh sense of awe and wonder at the depths to which God, Creator of the universe and Saviour of the world, lowered himself in order for you and me to inherit salvation!
Jesus left that place of honour, glory and worship of all the heavenly hosts to subject himself to the rejection, humiliation and scorn of the ones he had created in his own image. The King of Glory left that position of power, where the angels would race at the speed of light to do his bidding, to embrace that place where the epitome of his creation would despise his very words. This is radical, selfless (reckless) love that humans know nothing about until they encounter the King of Love!
Jesus died, was buried and rose again from the dead in Jerusalem. According to the Scriptures, he is returning in glory to Jerusalem at the end of days to set up his everlasting throne in the renewed Jerusalem.
Regardless of the vain posturing of earthly kings who want to dictate who has rights to Jerusalem and to “the Land”, it belongs to God alone. He will eventually, and forever, establish his rightful rule over all the kingdoms of the earth from that place.
For the Lord has chosen Zion, he has desired it for his dwelling, saying, “This is my resting place for ever and ever; here I will sit enthroned, for I have desired it. I will bless her with abundant provisions; her poor I will satisfy with food. I will clothe her priests with salvation, and her faithful people will ever sing for joy. – Psalm 132:13-16 (NIV)
As for me, I choose to bow my knee now to the King of Peace who will one day soon consummate his rulership not only of my life, but of the whole world. And he will be enthroned forever in Jerusalem, the City of Peace.
How about you?