Jesus wept over the capitol city of his country, the symbolic representation of a whole people: “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it!”
Despite his agony Jesus kept on telling the truth. That’s what true prophets do. But speaking truth to power always bears a cost. For Jesus, it bore a cross.
As Jesus moved toward Jerusalem one last time, he stopped and looked at her and wept, “If you, even you, had only recognized on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. Indeed, the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up ramparts around you and surround you, and hem you in on every side.” Heavy-footed and heavy-hearted, Jesus moved into Jerusalem, entered the Temple and began to drive out all who would use God as a prop to serve their own ambition and drive to power, those who would use God for their own purposes.
The prophet is an important personality in the Bible. There are two dominant types of prophet: The court prophet who is “yes” man to the king, who will say anything that makes the king happy, who fosters the king’s own delusions about his place in the scheme of things. Then there’s the prophet of God who speaks God’s truth to power, the hard truth, no matter how hard, no matter the cost.
Again and again scripture tells us when the voice of God’s prophet is silent, the country is in a place of profound danger. That’s why Jesus wept over Jerusalem, “the city that kills the prophets.” Jerusalem had allied herself to the Pax Romana, the false peace offered by the Roman Empire, in exchange for absolute submission, a peace won and maintained by brute force.
President Donald Trump has figuratively killed the prophets, stoned those who dare speak truth. He has wrapped himself in the American flag and in the false trappings of a mongrel American Christianity wed to power, not Jesus and the cross. This man who would be king has surrounded himself with court prophets, yes men and women. He will not have near him anyone who dares to speak the truth, “You are not our savior.”
A country, a king, a president who refuses to hear anything contrary to his own will and desires is in profound danger.
When God calls someone into leadership, God also calls others to speak truth to them. Trump’s failures are not his alone. They are the failures of a people allergic to introspection, to self-reflection, to honest critique. They are the failures of a people who refuse to speak truth to power.
As the news of the U.S. Capitol invasion unfolded, I couldn’t help imagine what were Jesus’ reactions as he looked out over our capital city, over our nation. I am convinced that he wept with as much anger and pathos as he wept over Jerusalem. “If you, even you, had only recognized on this day the things that make for peace.”