Thursday, May 02, 2019

I am desiring but you are not: Mat 23:37

Shortly before his death, Jesus looked over Jerusalem and mourned saying, “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling.” (Mat 23:37) In this passage, Jesus contrasts his will with those of the Jews living in Jerusalem. He does this by repeating the verb translated here as “wanted” and “unwilling”. The verb is thelō and means to actively will or to desire. This was not some remote wish in which Jesus thought it might be nice if he could gather the children of Jerusalem under his care. He was actively desiring and willing to do so. The problem was that they, the people of Jerusalem, were actively desiring not to do so. The contrast here could not be any clearer, Jesus was desiring, but they were not desiring.

In this, we see the root of so many of our troubles. Jesus is desiring to draw us close to him, but we are not desiring. Rather we are desiring to go our own way, to be independent, to live our own life. We are like those in the parable that Jesus taught who said regarding their king, “We do not want this man to reign over us.” (Luke 19:14) It is not even as if Jesus is desiring things that would be harmful, hurtful, or in any way in opposition to our best interests. But we still prefer our own will and continue to seek after the things we desire, not those he desires for us.

Understanding this scripture in this way causes me to ask myself, “Do I desire the things God desires or, like those in Jesus day, am I among those who do not desire; one who desires my own desires and does not desire after the desires of God? The key to desiring the desires of God is to grow in our relationship with him and to learn to delight ourselves in him. If we do, he has promised to “give you the desires of your heart.” (Psalms 37:4) He will not only give us the things we desire, but he will also give us new desires that we might desire after the things he desires for us.

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