Fourth Week of Lent: Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem

Then Jesus said to him, “Someone gave a great dinner and invited many. At the time for the dinner he sent his servant to say to those who had been invited, ‘Come; for everything is ready now.’ But they all alike began to make excuses. So the servant returned and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and said to his servant, ‘Go out at once into the streets and lanes of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame.’ And the servant said, ‘Sir, what you ordered has been done, and there is still room.’ Then the master said to the servant, ‘Go out into the roads and lanes, and compel people to come in, so that my house may be filled.
Luke 14:16-18a, 21-24

In chapter 9 of Luke’s gospel, Jesus sets his mind to go to Jerusalem. The rest of the gospel is focused on this journey towards his death and resurrection, and all that he does in between must be read in light of this. While at dinner with some people, he tells the parable we read today, about a man who invited many people to join him at his banquet table. When they would not come, he sent his servant out to the streets to invite all the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame—all those marginalized by society. After the servant had done so, there was still room at the table, so the man ordered him to go back out and compel more people to come, so that his house might be filled. All are welcome at the banquet table of God, regardless of their socioeconomic status, physical ability, race, religion, or nationality. The feast was prepared, and the man would not allow it to go uneaten.

This parable tells of the kingdom of God, which is both now and yet to come. The feast has been prepared and all are welcome to partake of its goodness, eating and rejoicing together. It is the New Jerusalem spoken of in Revelation—the place where pain and sorrow will be no more—but, it is also here today. As Jesus sets his face toward Jerusalem, and his death and resurrection, he also foreshadows the coming kingdom of God, a place where all are welcome at God’s table regardless of our differences.

The last three weeks we have examined why Jerusalem matters to Jews, Christians, and Muslims. All three of the Abrahamic faiths consider Jerusalem to be holy, and desire its peace. As we continue to pray for the peace of Jerusalem; we do so in hopeful expectation, inviting all people, regardless of race, religion, nationality, or other differences which often divide us, to this feast which has already been prepared for us.

Last month a group of 3,000 people, including Jews and Muslims, gathered together in Haifa for a mass singing event, led by the Koolulam Project. In beautiful harmony and multiple languages they sang  “One Day,” by Matisyahu. Art is powerful in its ability to bridge divides by bringing people together across differences. And so, as we continue to pray for the peace of Jerusalem, and its diverse people, we join the chorus, praying,

All my life I’ve been waiting for
I’ve been praying for
For the people to say
That we don’t wanna fight no more
There’ll be no more war
And our children will play
One day

As we pray for the peace of Jerusalem, we join in this chorus with hopeful expectation for peace to become our reality.

This devotion was written by Molly Lorden, the CMEP1835 Coordinator for Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP). She is also currently studying toward a Master of Divinity at Princeton Theological Seminary.

CMEP is very thankful for the writers who contribute Spiritual Resources. However, CMEP does not necessarily agree with all the positions of our writers, and they do not speak on CMEP’s behalf. Similarly, the use of Matisyahu’s song in this devotion does not mean CMEP necessarily agrees with Matisyahu on all matters.