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Jesus Weeps over Jerusalem

We are thinking about the last week before Christ’s crucifixion, and today’s thought is on Jesus coming to Jerusalem as Messiah.

41As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it 42and said, "If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes. 43The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. 44They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God's coming to you" (Luke 19:41-44).

In New Testament times, people had to go over the Mount of Olives when they approached Jerusalem from the Jordan or Dead Sea Valley. From that vantage point, the view of Jerusalem below is one of the most spectacular in the world. From the top of the Mount of Olives, one can look down on the Temple Mount. At the sight of the city below Him, the Messiah of Israel wept uncontrollably. The Greek word klaio is translated into English as wept in our passage above. It is the strongest word in the original Greek language. Jesus' body was heaving with intense sobbing and grief. The prophet Zechariah spoke of a time when the Messiah would approach the city, the Mount of Olives split into two (Zechariah 14:2-5), and angels would come to execute judgment on Israel’s enemies. Those ascending to Jerusalem that day might have been expecting Zechariah’s prophecy to be fulfilled and the kingdom of God to come (Luke 19:11). Instead, when Jesus and the disciples got to the top of the Mount of Olives, Christ sobbed uncontrollably.

Verse 44 explains why Jesus loudly wailed; Israel did not recognize the time of God's coming. As a nation, they did not see their need for a healer for their sin problem. Spiritual blindness concerning our need for a Savior from sin will keep us from receiving salvation. Israel wanted a king to lead them into battle against the Romans. Jesus peered into the future and saw the inevitable result of their resistance to the loving arms of the Savior. He saw the coming judgment of the nation with a Roman embankment set up and the stones of the Temple torn down one by one.

More than forty years after Christ’s crucifixion, in A.D. 66, the Jews revolted against Roman control. Titus, son of the Roman emperor Vespasian, was sent to crush the rebellion three years later. The Romans set up a siege barricade around Jerusalem and starved the city into submission. In A.D. 70, they entered the weakened city and set fire to it. History records that Jesus' prophecy was fulfilled to the letter. When they entered Jerusalem, more than six hundred thousand Jews were slaughtered. The Romans set fire to the Temple and pulled down every stone to get at the gold that melted from the burning temple structure.

This judgment happened just as Jesus prophesied. The Lord foretold, “They will not leave in you one stone upon another because you did not recognize the time of your visitation" (Luke 19:44). The Romans made an example of Jerusalem to warn other cities of what could happen to those that rebelled against Rome. The thought I leave with you today is that if we don’t recognize our need for a Savior for our sin-debt, we will bring disaster and judgment upon ourselves. Receive His grace today. Cry out to Him for His salvation. Keith Thomas

Taken from the series on the Book of Luke. Click on study 52, Luke 19:28-48, The King Comes to His Temple.


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