Mar26ThuMarch 26, 2020
Journey to the Cross - Day 4
Luke 19:41-44 (ESV) 41 And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, 42 saying, “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. 43 For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side 44 and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation.”
In the first century, Jerusalem was a sight to behold. Its spectacular temple was visible from all sides. Its fortified walls of white stone were vivid in contrast to rocky soil and patches of green in Palestine. But the city had not always been that way. Centuries earlier, the newly anointed King, had established Jerusalem as the headquarters for God’s people. Thus, it became known as the City of David. Over the decades which followed, the capital had been built up into a grand empire. Then later, ransacked and burned. After seventy years in exile, the city was rebuilt. Yet it remained a shadow of its former glory. The splendor which Jesus could see on this particular day, was, in part, due to King Herod’s extensive building projects. However, the city itself really stood as a testimony to God’s covenant promises with His people.
As the Son of God, from the line of David, the true heir to the throne of Jerusalem stood there on this day, he did not take in its splendor. Instead, Jesus wept. But why? Clearly, according to the text, he knew that destruction was coming. His words were explicitly clear. “Your enemies will set up a barricade around you…They will tear you down to the ground.” Forty years from this statement, Titus Vespasian, the Roman general, launched a campaign that fulfilled Jesus’ prophecy.
This coming disaster grieved Jesus. But, I believe, that he wept for a deeper reason. Jerusalem had turned into a city of religion which had very little room for humility, repentance, evangelism or compassion. Such a hard-heartedness, whitewashed by outward piety, was making preparations to crucify her true King. As the journey to the cross lay before him, Jesus wept, not because crucifixion was coming. He wept because God’s people could not see the King who stood before them.
May we never make the same mistake and choose outward religion over that which is greater – following the Prince of Peace. Lord help us, Amen!