Theme: Pointing Sinners to Jesus
In this week’s lessons, we look at a moving event in the life of Jesus just before his arrest and crucifixion, when he weeps for the city of Jerusalem over its rejection of Him.
Scripture: Luke 19:41, 42
Yesterday, we were talking about the need to be broken over the eternal state of the lost. I want to conclude this first application with a story from personal experience.
Years ago, before I returned from Switzerland to this country, I attended the first of the Lausanne Congresses on evangelism, which met in Berlin, Germany. One of the speakers was Fernando Vangioni. He was an associate evangelist for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, and he was talking about the lost. He said that some months ago he was in South America, where he was conducting an evangelistic crusade. At the close of the service one evening, a woman came up to him and told him this story.
She said to Mr. Vangioni, “I’m stopping you because tomorrow night I’m going to be bringing a girl with me that I’d like you to speak to, if you have time and are you’re willing. I want to tell you something about her. She’s very young. She went away to the United States a couple years ago, and went to New York City. Everybody said, ‘Oh, America’s the land of opportunity.’ She thought she had a bright, brave new world before her, but it wasn’t like that.
“She fell in with bad company—with immoral men who abused her shamefully. They passed her around. And now at length, after two years, she’s come back, and she’s very, very bitter. What she endured has hardened her. I’ve been trying to talk to her about Jesus, but she doesn’t want to listen. I’ve been trying to get her to the meeting, but she doesn’t want to come.” Finally, she said, ‘Alright, I’ll go with you once if you promise never to ask me to go again.’ So she’s coming tomorrow night, I think, and I wonder if you’d speak to her. It might be the only time she’ll really have to hear the gospel.”
Mr. Vangioni said of course he would do that, and so the next night as he was preaching, he looked, and he saw the woman from the night before in the back. The girl was sitting next to her. He recognized who she was. After the service, he went back, was introduced, and he began to talk to her about Jesus Christ. The girl was very, very hard. She said, “Don’t preach to me.” There’s not a whole lot you can say when somebody says something like that to you. So, finally, he said, “Well, do you mind if I pray for you?” She said, “You can pray all you like. I don’t believe in prayer. I won’t listen.” He began to pray.
As he related this story at the conference, he said there was something about the hardness in her face, the tragedy of her young life, that it touched him to the point where he began to weep while he was praying before her. Tears actually ran down his cheeks. Finally, he got so choked up in his praying, he couldn’t carry on any more. He had to stop. After he recovered himself enough to speak, he turned to her and said, “Alright, you can go now.” Do you know what she said? Her reply was wonderful. She said, “No, I won’t go. You can preach to me now. No man has ever cried for me before.”
I ask the question: Is there anybody for whom you have ever cried because of the tragedy of their life and who is going to perish eternally? Is there anybody whom you know in that condition that has touched you so deeply that you have been moved to that level? The Lord Jesus Christ wept over Jerusalem. Is there no city for which you can weep? The sins of the city should be crying out for compassion from Christian people. Can’t you weep for Philadelphia, or New York, or San Francisco, or London, or whatever great city it may be? The masses are huddled in the cities, perishing for lack of knowledge and without Jesus Christ.
If you’re not sufficiently drawn to Jesus Christ, so that His Spirit infuses you to this degree that you can weep for a city, isn’t there one person for whom you can weep—one neighbor, one parent, one son, one daughter, one friend, one acquaintance at work, one fellow student, whoever it may be? You see, if you want to be close to the heart of the Master, see him there weeping for the city.
Secondly, I want to apply this by directing a few words to those who are not Christians yet. You may say to me, “No Christian has ever wept for me,” echoing the words of the girl in the story, and that may be quite true. You don’t know that it’s true. Christians often pray in secret for those who are perishing. They unburden their heart before the Lord. There may be many people who have prayed for you with many tears that you don’t know about. But it may be true that no Christian has wept for you. Christians are not always very much like their Master. They will be one day. They want to be. They’re trying to grow in that direction, but they’re far from being like Him yet.
It may be that you have never known a Christian who was concerned for you enough to actually shed tears for your condition. But even if that is true, there is one thing that Christians do. They know enough to point you to Jesus, and that’s what I want to do. I want to point you to Jesus. As He looks over the city, He’s not going to come as a warrior. He’s not going to come in order to claim the adoration of the crowds. He’s not even thinking about Himself. He’s thinking about those who are perishing, and He is crying. He is crying for you. The Lord Jesus Christ wished of Jerusalem that if only they had known what would bring peace, but now it is hidden from them. If only they had recognized and received Jesus for who He really is and believed on Him.
Up to this point that is the story of your life. Here is the greatest message the world has ever heard, and you’ve been blind to it. Yet, you see, Jesus Christ brings the light. Here is Jesus Christ weeping for you. He is the source of light. God perhaps is beginning to let that light shine into the dark recesses of your heart and mind. If God is doing that, don’t reject the light. Don’t draw back from it, saying, “Oh, I must preserve the darkness because my deeds are evil.” Let the light illumine those dark recesses of your heart and draw you to Jesus. If Jesus is shining into your life, God Himself will shine light upon your path and urge you to come to Him. Run to Him. Don’t wait. Come to Him. You’ll find that God will join you to Him with an everlasting bond, a bond that will bring you blessing and fullness of life not only now, but forever. One day, when Jesus returns to Jerusalem—not that old Jerusalem of the past, but the new Jerusalem, the Jerusalem that we’re told about in Revelation, in which there are no tears, no crying, no parting with loved ones, when all evil has been wiped away—when Jesus returns to that city, there will be no crying then. And if you are joined to Him by faith, you will be with Him when He comes.
From the illustration, what did the girl expect to hear from Mr. Vangioni when he spoke with her after the service? Contrast that with what actually happened.
Research other stories of Christians whose lives were marked by such compassionate service. Keep a journal of what they said and did, and then seek to imitate their example in your own evangelistic efforts.
Application: Ask the Lord to give you the kind of compassion for the lost that Jesus had for Jerusalem. Then ask him to bring people into your life on whom you can show that compassion and love.