#ThursdayThought​: Lent Week 3 “A Sorrowful Journey”

Man of Sorrows

Welcome to Thursday Thought, a short devotional series which compliments our Sunday services as we journey though the season of Lent, based on material produced by Engage Worship. To begin, take a moment to be still, to be in the presence of God, and to ready yourself to hear from Him.

Today, we reflect on the theme of Man of Sorrows. Our Scripture Reading is Luke 13: 34-35, 19:41-44:

34‘Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing. 35Look, your house is left to you desolate. I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.”’

41As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it 42and said, ‘If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace – but now it is hidden from your eyes. 43The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. 44They 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 recognise the time of God’s coming to you.’ Amen.

If there is one emotion that comes across when we read of Jesus in the New Testament, it is sorrow. We read of his joy (Luke 10:21) and anger (Mark 3:5). But grief was so central to Jesus’ experience that Isaiah spoke of him as a “man of sorrows” (Isa. 53:3)

Today’s passages focus on the sorrow he felt over Jerusalem. Jesus shows an incredible capacity for empathy, especially as some of those he was mourning were the same people who were about to kill him in the cruellest way.

In chapter 19, verse 41, Jesus goes one step further and weeps audibly for Jerusalem. He knew the suffering coming to the people of the city, and it caused him to cry with grief, in public.

Can you relate to Jesus here? Or are you more likely to keep these kinds of emotions inside you? We often feel so overwhelmed by all the atrocities of the world, that we end up with compassion-fatigue, unable to feel anything at all.

Spend a moment reflecting on the following question: When did you last allow your heart to feel sorrow over a situation in your town, your country or the world at large? Do you struggle to express this?

One cause of this struggle for Christians is because our art and music can sometimes be very “neat”, full of positive major chords, bright sunshine and quick resolutions. Pete Greig has written:

“Where, I wonder, is the mystery and the mess of biblical spirituality? What place is there in our happy-clappy culture for the disturbing message of books such as Ecclesiastes, Lamentations and Job? Where are the moments in both our private and public meetings with God when the major key turns to the minor, when the soft rock anthems pay respect to the blues, and when those top melodies of pop praise finally give way to the scattered logic of jazz?” Pete Greig, God on Mute, pages 101-102.

Practical steps: Can you find some honest, dark, unresolved music or art to help you enter into the emotions of lament? Or can you create some of your own? One of our attempts is the song “We have come”. You can listen to it and watch a video here: engageworship.org/we-have-come

It is entirely right and healthy to grieve. However, the Apostle Paul reminds us that we “do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope.” (1 Thess. 4:13) We can mourn with Jesus and we can also be comforted by him. Isaiah continues his description of the coming Messiah:

“Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows.” (Isa. 53:4a)

As you pray today, let us allow ourselves to feel some of God’s sorrow over the world. Express your grief to Jesus and hand it over to the one who carried your sorrows, placing your hope in him.