by John R. Rice
Now we have another sad saying of Jesus lamenting that sinners would not come unto Him. In Matthew 23:37 we hear the sad words of Jesus weeping over Jerusalem:
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!”Can you imagine the scene? It was only two days before the Feast of the Passover when Jesus would be crucified. He had spent many of the days of His ministry in Jerusalem, the Holy City. How He loved this city of David, the city of the kings, the city of the prophets, the city of the Temple worship! Again and again He had tried to win people to love and trust Him. He knew all the prophets whom they had murdered, all the preachers whom they had stoned; yet He loved them and wanted them saved.
Consider this tenderhearted Saviour weeping over the city that will murder Him in two days! Consider why men hate such a good Saviour.
Did the Jews find Jesus austere and unapproachable? No, He said, “I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls” (Matt. 11:29). The harlot woman stooped to weep over His feet until her tears washed away the dust, and then she dried them with the hair of her head without rebuke.
Austere? Unapproachable? No. He cast seven devils out of Mary Magdalene, the outcast. He took little children in His arms and blessed them. He took part in wedding feasts and Pharisees’ suppers. He wept with Mary and Martha at the grave of Lazarus. No sinner ever has a right to say that Jesus is unapproachable, that He cares only for the rich, that He cannot be found by any humble heart that seeks Him.
Are, then, the demands of Jesus so difficult to fulfill? Is He a hard Master? Does He take away all pleasure and leave life bitter? No. He so well said, “My yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” What freedom every sinner has found when set free from Satan’s bondage!
I have been a Christian since I was nine years old, and a preacher of the Gospel for many years. If I had a dozen sons, I would want each to be a preacher. Oh no! Jesus is not a hard Master. His way is not bitter. His yoke is not heavy and hard.
What is there wrong with Jesus that sinners will not have Him? Is He harsh and unforgiving? No. He received the traitor’s kiss of Judas on His cheek and called him “friend”! On the cross He prayed for those who killed Him, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” Sinners who have rejected Him forty or fifty years often still find this pleading, small voice of the Holy Spirit speaking to their hearts. Jesus loves them and seeks them still.
Does Jesus offer enslavement? Is that why sinners reject Him? No. He cast out the legion of devils from the maniac of Gadara and set him free, clothed and in his right mind!
When a father brought his son, often cast into the fire by devils, Jesus cast out the devils and sent the lad home, well and sound, with his happy father.
The businessman who served Satan forty-seven years and now for ten happy years has been going about telling what wonderful things God has done for him, tells me that often as he travels over the country he passes a place where once he drank and swore with wicked men. His heart wells up in gratitude that he is no longer a slave and that he will never be driven to do those things anymore.
Does Jesus ask you to give Him too much? No. Instead He wants to give you life, peace, joy and a home in Heaven.
I think I know as many as twenty people who found life so barren that they planned suicide, but at the last moment let Jesus Christ come in to make them happy and set them free.
Every sinner should remember that it is a weeping Saviour whom you reject, a Saviour weeping over the sinner’s lost soul. It is a compassionate Saviour whom you reject. How many times He would have drawn you to His heart! He knows that you are of a race of sinners, He knows every secret of your vile heart, yet He loves you and died for you.
Surely it is one of the saddest sayings in the Bible that the people over whom Christ yearns and broods, the people He would so often have hugged to His bosom in forgiveness and peace, would not come. Jesus said, “How often would I…and ye would not!”
The same teaching is given in Revelation 3:20: “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.”
Christ stands at the door and knocks, but you ignore Him and go to Hell. Christ stands at the door and knocks and pleads, but you bar the door and continue in a sin that damns you.
How sad it is that Christ says, “How often would I…and ye would not!”