Lover of My Soul – Matthew 23:37
Jesus can be harsh with those He loves. Can you accept this truth?
We have a hard time reconciling discipline with love or criticism with compassion in our culture. It is easier to see our world as an old western where good guys do nothing wrong and bad guys are just running around doing bad things until someone shoots them and writes them out of the script.
Add to this our obsession with self-esteem and resistance to critical thinking, and we can understand why it might upset us to think Jesus would have anything bad to say about the people He loves.
Consider the case of the Pharisees and the scribes in the New Testament era. The Pharisees and scribes were misguided in their faith, and they grew to hate Jesus. But they were the leaders. Pharisees, by definition, were separatists who pledged themselves to a life of holiness and unswerving devotion to the traditions of their people and Old Testament commandments. The scribes were spiritual lawyers who helped judge the quibbles people had over finer points of tradition and law. An unhealthy emphasis on man-made traditions and a strong bent toward self-righteousness turned these noble positions into blind religious sects that spent most of their time demonizing the Gentile world and puffing themselves up with pride.
What a shock it must have been for the Pharisees and scribes to discover Jesus wasn’t on their side. Surely, if Jesus was the Messiah He would want to align Himself fully with God’s most faithful servants. Instead, Jesus unleashed His relentless chastisement of the Pharisees and scribes in Matthew 23, in something people refer to as the “seven woes.” If there was a bridge standing between Jesus and these Jewish leaders before He began His message it was surely in flames by the time He finished.
But just as the point Jesus’ audience must have been ready to lash back in an explosion of anger, He said this: “O 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, but you were not willing” (Matthew 23:37). Huh? Jesus, you blast your adversaries, only to turn around and pour out your heart to them?
Such is the way of the “Lover of our Soul”. He may not always tell us what we want to hear, but He knows what we need.