Jesus was a man of many moods. He is normally pictured in the gospels as patiently instructing his disciples or speaking to large crowds. I have to believe there were also times of good humor when around an evening fire he exchanged stories that brought a smile. At the same time, there was a somber side to his public ministry. Both Matthew and Luke report that moment when looking out over the city, he cried out, “Oh Jerusalem, Jerusalem! How often I have longed to gather you in my arms as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you wouldn’t let me. Look, there is your temple, forsaken by God!” (Matt. 23:37-38, Jesus In His Own Words)
In the heart of God there is a deep desire for the restoration of man. History took a tragic turn from what God had in mind leaving the heart with an empty void. When Jesus reflects on what it is that has replaced what might have been, his heart is heavy with sorry. So on this day his mood is controlled by the sad realization that man had taken the wrong road and was now suffering the consequences of the choice.
I ask, what is the role of sorrow in the life of today’s serious believer? I believe we can learn from Jesus’ experience that genuine sadness is the proper background for the coming joy of restoration. Sadness over the tragic results of sin is a proper part of the mindset of every mature Christian. In the Beatitudes, Jesus pronounces blessed “those who understand the sorrow of this world, for God himself will comfort and encourage them” (Matthew 5:4). Sadness and joy have a unique relationship. Each intensifies the other. Sadness is even deeper when one realizes the infinite delight of joy, and joy soars beyond expectations against the background of sadness. Each plays its rightful role in the life of the believer. The lostness of man apart from the saving process of grace brings an increased earnestness to the active believer and the joy of eternal friendship with the One who crafted us in his own image deepens the sadness we experience along the way. May we join Jesus as he looks out over our Jerusalem longing to gather the rebels back into the safety and provision of God.