The Narrow Way
Open Your Bible
Luke 13:1-35, Deuteronomy 32:10-14, Psalm 137:1-9
BY Guest Writer
In Andrew Peterson’s beloved Christmas album Behold the Lamb of God, he sings the song, “Deliver Us,” based on Jesus’s lament for Jerusalem in Luke chapter 13. He sings, hauntingly,
How often I have longed
To gather you beneath my gentle wings.
Even typing these words brings tears to my eyes. Peterson captures, in a way that only master songwriters can, the ache of the ages. The song ends with those lines, an answer to the previous verses that are sung from the perspective of God’s wandering people:
Our sins they are more numerous than all the lambs we slay
Our shackles they were made with our own hands
Jesus’s lament summarizes the history of God’s stiff-necked people. Jerusalem—used here both literally, in reference to the city, and also as a metaphor for God’s people throughout time—had a history of turning away from God and abandoning the prophets, judges, and even the Messiah God had sent to them. Even earlier in this chapter, we see a specific example of the Pharisees questioning Jesus’s miracles. The crowds believed, but the leaders rejected Him.
Despite the innumerable sins of His people and their continuing self-imprisonment due to their own choices, Jesus weeps over the city and the people He came to save (Luke 19:41). God longs to gather His children, to protect them, to gather them under His wings (Psalm 91:4). Jerusalem is His greatest joy (Psalm 137:6), the people He will go to the greatest lengths to save. It is the promise of the whole of Scripture.
Jesus stands outside of the city where He will die, and His lament is not for His death. His lament is for the people He longs to save. He has just finished warning them, telling them that by not believing Him they will not join Him in the kingdom of God. But His lament shows us that He does not make these proclamations about the narrow way out of anger, but out of grief.
“How often I wanted to gather your children together…
but you were not willing!” (v.34).
Even in His lament over the past and current rejection of His people, Jesus knew He would be rejected yet again in Jerusalem. But the steadfast, faithful, persistent love of the Father through the ages, embodied in the person of Christ, never fails. Love would carry Jesus all the way to the cross, into the dark tomb, and ultimately, into the glorious resurrection—where He invites us to join Him, forever.
Melanie Rainer is a bookworm from birth who makes her days writing, editing and reading in Nashville, where she also joyfully serves as the editor of Kids Read Truth. She has an M.A. in Theological Studies from Covenant Seminary, spends as much time as she can in the kitchen, and can’t wait until her two daughters are old enough to read Anne of Green Gables.