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Choices and consequences

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! See, your house is left to you desolate. For I tell you, you will not see me again, until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’” Jesus left the temple and was going away, when his disciples came to point out to him the buildings of the temple. But he answered them, “You see all these, do you not? Truly, I say to you, there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.” Matthew 23: 37 – 24: 2
“If only I had made a different choice.” Have you ever used those words? When one looks back, one can identify times when a single choice has altered everything in our lives. Altered everything – without any prospect of return.

The incident in bold above is all about a key choice in this world’s history – a choice made and decided in AD 30 Jerusalem which still affects Jerusalem today.

An eyewitness was there in Herod the Great’s Temple – magnificent, newly-built and continuing to receive its wonderful finishing touches. Matthew records that Jesus was near to tears. “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you whose history is to kill the prophets and to stone those sent to you by the LORD God of your fathers, how I wanted repeatedly to gather your children together like a hen gathers her chicks under her wings – but you didn’t want it.”

That was some choice wasn’t it? The choice was being made as the very time that Jesus was speaking those words to them. But what do you think? Was this choice with consequences or without consequences?


‘It takes a radical break to turn from earth’s trash to heaven’s treasure.’ (Vance Havner, preacher and writer, 1901-1986)
Still weeping, Jesus said, “Look – look and see – your house is now left in your hands – deserted.” Deserted.

The underlying Greek word recorded by Matthew is eremos. What does this adjective actually mean? It is used elsewhere of lonely uncultivated regions, of persons deserted by others, of those deprived of aid and protection, of a flock deserted by the shepherd, and of a woman neglected by her husband, from whom the husband withholds himself.

This is all especially interesting because Jesus spoke those words nearly 2,000 years ago and we can see exactly what has happened to Jerusalem and its people during those two millennia. 

One recent book which sets out that history is Simon Sebag Montefiore’s “Jerusalem - The Biography”. Amazon’s write-up describes the book like this. “How did this small, remote town become the Holy City, the 'centre of the world' and now the key to peace in the Middle East? This is a unique chronicle of the city that many believe will be the setting for the Apocalypse. This is how Jerusalem became Jerusalem, and the only city that exists twice - in heaven and on earth.” 

Jerusalem deserted? Left to the consequences of its own decision making? Yes, but Jesus said that this awesome choice, whilst long-lasting and full of turmoil would not be irrevocable. Jesus explained. “What I am saying to you is that you will not see me again until you may say, “Worthy is he who is coming in the name of the LORD God.”


‘Before Christ, a man loves things and uses people; after Christ he loves people and uses things.’ (Horace Wood)
The choice made by the Jerusalem authorities in AD 30 became a turning point in the history of Jerusalem and the people who belonged to it. In fact it became a turning point in world history.

The key decision was carried out - Jesus was crucified there within 24 hours. After three days he rose from the dead. After 50 days he ascended on high. He has no grave in Jerusalem. He has no grave on earth. He said he is coming again in the name of the LORD God.

For the past 2,000 years folk have had the opportunity to decide for themselves in their day whether this Jesus is worthy or not. 

“If only I had made a different choice.” Have you ever used those words? Did you know that some choices are, through mercy, revocable?

Sinner Syvret

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