Thursday, 18 November 2010

Destruction of Jerusalem

Holy Communion at St Giles

Reading Revelation 5. 1 – 10

The Scroll and the Lamb

1 Then I saw in the right hand of him who sat on the throne a scroll with writing on both sides and sealed with seven seals. 2 And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming in a loud voice, “Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll?” 3 But no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth could open the scroll or even look inside it. 4 I wept and wept because no one was found who was worthy to open the scroll or look inside. 5 Then one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.”

6 Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing in the centre before the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. The Lamb had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. 7 He went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who sat on the throne. 8 And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of God’s people. 9 And they sang a new song, saying:

   “You are worthy to take the scroll
   and to open its seals,
because you were slain,
   and with your blood you purchased for God
   members of every tribe and language and people and nation.
10 You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God,
   and they will reign on the earth.”

Gospel Luke 19. 41 – 44

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


Gospel passage headed ‘Jesus weeps over Jerusalem.’ Comes immediately after triumphal entry.

Jesus sits on a donkey, in fulfilment of prophecy. In Luke, only the disciples cry out. The people are silent. What disciples shout, echoes the song of the angels.

38 “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”

Luke wants us to see that what is to happen on earth follows from what happens in heaven.

Then comes today’s reading. Jesus weeps because of the judgement that will be meted out on Jerusalem. Because Jerusalem has rejected the messiah and followed her own determined path, so her destruction is inevitable.

What has Jerusalem rejected. It has rejected Jesus himself, and his way of peace. Israel is the cause of her own ruin.

Just after today’s passage comes the cleansing of the Temple.

By the time Luke’s gospel is written, Jerusalem will already have been sacked and destroyed by the Romans. That took place in 70AD.

So all this is seen as an interpretation of prophecy, so that by the time of Revelation Jesus is described in messianic terms:

“Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.”

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