As he came near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, ‘If you, even you, had only recognised on this day the things that make for peace ! But now they are hidden from your eyes’.  Luke 19.41,42

Hearing recent reports from Israel and the West Bank I have been reminded  that it is a deeply moving experience to stand on the Mount of Olives and look down over Jerusalem, as Jesus did. Across the Kidron Valley is the site of the temple in which Jesus taught, and where his authority was challenged by the chief priests and elders. There he warned: ‘not one stone will be left standing on another’ (some of those immense stones can be seen lying where they fell in AD70). Beyond, can be seen the site of Jesus’ death and resurrection, now within the walls of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

When Jesus rode into Jerusalem, ‘humble and mounted on a donkey’ (Matthew 21.5), he had come through Jericho and what we know now as the West Bank. He entered Jerusalem from the east and went into the temple. At around the same time Pontius Pilate entered Jerusalem, from Caesarea in the west, with the full panoply of Roman power. He came determined that his imperial forces should keep the peace during the Passover festival (with force).

In a few days Pilate and Jesus were face to face. That meeting would change the world. Condemned, Jesus carried his cross, prayed for his executors, and after a lingering agony, commended his spirit to his Father. We remember his earlier words; ‘I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself’, and St John’s comment, ‘He said this to indicate the kind of death he was going to die’. (John 12.32,33).

On the cross, and in the garden on the first Easter Day, power and glory were redefined. The way of power was overcome by the way of peace.

If only the world could recognise ‘the things that make for peace’, but still we weep with those who are crushed by injustice, greed, pride and vainglory. We weep for those in the Land of the Holy One, who long for justice and the peace it brings. We weep with the people of Ukraine, of Sudan, of Syria and so many brothers and sisters around the world. ‘If only…’

At the Cross we see the love of God, we see his glory, for ‘God is love’ (1 John 4.8). Remember, Jesus came into Jerusalem from the east. As I have stood on the Mount of Olives, looking down over Jerusalem, these words of Ezekiel have echoed down the ages - his vision of God’s glory returning to Jerusalem: ‘He brought me to the gate, the gate facing east. And there, the glory of the God of Israel was coming from the east….and the earth shone with his glory’ (Ezekiel 43.1,2).

May we be constant in our prayer for all the people of the Holy Land, for our brothers and sisters in Christ who seek peace in his name, and for Christians everywhere as together we pray, ‘thy kingdom come, thy will be done’. May our hearts, like Daniel’s, yearn with hope for God’s mercy, as we grieve for the suffering of so many: ‘O Lord, hear, O Lord, forgive, O Lord listen and act and do not delay’ Daniel 9.19).

Thank you for your support, thank you for your prayer.

‘Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father’! (Philippians 2.11).

Revd John Reese