A HOLY WEEK JOURNEY IN ADVERSITY TOWARDS RESILIENCE
HOLY WEEK READING-REFLECTION PLAN
6th April 2020, Monday: Luke 19:37-44 Prayer Of Tears
Luke gives a broader perspective on Jesus as He was approaching Jerusalem – already coming down the Mount of Olives. The multitudes of disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice. The sound must have been thunderous with appreciation. But when Jesus drew near and saw the city, He wept. Have you seen a grown man cry? There is always something sobering about it. We can only imagine, and to do so, carefully and prayerfully as to His thoughts and feelings. He wasn’t just being emotional over the raw energy of the crowd. Jesus wept for Jerusalem – the holy habitation of God, God’s dwelling place, and yet the people in the city had become so ignorant, indifferent, callous to the Presence of God. Jesus wept that they did not know the things that made for (their) peace.
Standing and watching the God of Love weep, surely we must take off our shoes for the ground is holy. I took mine off, amazed and deeply moved that He would weep for me.
What about you?
Penthos means blessed, holy mourning. Penthos means deep, heartfelt compunction. Penthos means the Prayer of Tears. The Prayer of Tears is being cut to the heart over our distance and offense to the goodness of God. It is weeping over our sins and the sins of the world. It is entering into the liberating shocks of repentance. It is the intimate and ultimate awareness that sin cuts us off from the fullness of God’s presence.
Consider the psalmist’s lament: “My eyes shed streams of tears because Your law is not kept’ (Psalm 119:36). Remember Jesus who “offered up prayers and supplications with loud cries and tears (Hebrews 5:7). See Him weeping over His beloved Jerusalem: “How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!” (Matthew 23:37). Listen to His beatitude upon the broken, the bruised – “Blessed are those who mourn” (Matthew 5:4); “Blessed are you who weep” (Luke 6:21). Or think of Paul who came to Asia “serving the Lord with all humility and with tears” (Acts 20:19). To the Ephesians he wrote, “For three years I did not cease night or day to warn everyone with tears”. To the flock in Corinth he said, “I wrote to you out of much distress and anguish of heart and with many tears”, and later he could rejoice that their “mourning” and “godly grief” had led to their repentance (2 Corinthians 2:4, 7:7-11).
Martin Luther declared that the life of the Christian should be one of daily repentance. Daily we confess, daily we repent, daily we “turn, turn, ‘til we turn ‘round right”. The Prayer of Tears is the primary aid to our turning. God never despises “a broken spirit and a contrite heart” (Psalm 51:17). But how do we experience a contrite heart? A grieving, broken, sorrowing, repentant heart?
First, we begin by asking. We cannot make heart repentance happen. It is a gift from God.
Second, we confess. We declare our sins without excuse or abridgement. We leave no space for excuses or extenuating circumstances.
Third, we receive. Our God, who is faithful and just – and also full of mercy – will forgive and will cleanse (1 John 1:9)
Fourth, we obey. It is not enough to ask God for a heart soft and broken where there is space for repentance. It is not enough to confess freely and openly of our many offences. Embedded in the word of forgiveness is the call to obedience.
In this season of Lent and in particular this Holy Week, the words of John Chrysostom give bearing: “The fire of sin is intense, but it is put out by a small amount of tears, for the tear puts out a furnace of faults, and cleans our wounds of sin.”
Adapted Richard Foster
Write your prayer of response