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Yearning is defined as “longing” for something.  Some dictionaries add that it’s “persistent”, some describe it as “often melancholy”, some add “especially for something you cannot have”. 
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People yearn to visit faraway places, to get families back together, to escape authoritarian governments, to know there’s enough food for the next day.  Depending on our economic status, where we live, and many other factors.  But most people, it seems, yearn for something.

When we look in the Bible, we find it just as true, especially in the Psalms and the prophets.  There’s yearning for peace, for justice, for deliverance from enemies, for repentance and reform.

Possibly surprisingly, the Almighty expresses yearning!  Such as:

“Oh, that my people would listen to me, that Israel would walk in my ways!” (Psalm 81:13);
“Oh that you had paid attention to my commandments! Then your peace would have been like a river, and your righteousness like the waves of the sea.” (Isaiah 48:18)

God yearns for His people to pay attention!

As always, like Father, like Son.  At the very end of his ministry, Jesus laments,

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it!  How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!” (Matthew 23:37)

Weekly, we remember the Lord in bread and wine, as he directed us.  Sometimes we read from Luke’s account, which tells us Jesus remarked, “With longing I have longed to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.”  The doubling up of the longing drives home just how intensely Jesus had desired this.  Which might prompt us to ask, “Why?”

He was about to be arrested, beaten and executed—which he knew full well, and had repeatedly told his followers.  He (alone) knew at that time what the two emblems really meant.  Why yearn for this?  From his prayer in Gethsemane we know for certain that he was not relishing the thought of going to the cross.  He pleaded with his Father, if there was any alternative, any other way.

We are left on our own to ponder the why.  A couple things I can think of:  He might yearn for that meal because it meant his conflict-ridden work of preaching and teaching was finally done.  The next day his last words would be, “It is finished.”  Also, he might have yearned for that meal because he knew it would cement the bonds between him and his followers—both then and for all time; he loved them and loves us.

One thing I notice, going back to the definition of yearning.  We see in Jesus an intense longing, true.  But it wasn’t for something he couldn’t have. He got what he yearned for.

The examples of yearning I started with are all this-life related.  It’s true that many things we yearn for in this life are unattainable.  But our spiritual yearnings are not unattainable.  We yearn, as did John, “Amen. Come Lord Jesus!” (Revelation 22:20)  And as did Paul,

“For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God… And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.” (Romans 8:19-23)


“One thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13-14)

Yearning for the Kingdom is not longing for something we cannot have!  Like the desire Jesus expressed, it is eyes-wide-open realistic—the last days before Christ’s return are going to range from extremely unpleasant to horrific.

But like Jesus, we look beyond, to the glory on the other side.  Glory promised by the One who is all-powerful, and will surely keep His word.  What we yearn for will come about.

Love, Paul

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