Why Did Jesus Weep over Jerusalem?
As we enter the week of Easter, we begin with the triumphal entry of Jesus. Jesus loved the city of Jerusalem, and every year He would go into the city as a visitor, participating in the annual Passover. The last time He entered Jerusalem, Jesus would not come in as a visitor but as a King to many.
As the people shouted out "Hosanna!" and waved their palm branches in the air, they were anticipating Jesus to be their military King who would lead them into war against the Roman government who was oppressing them, persecuting them, and imposing a heavy taxation on them.
After Jesus goes down the road of the Mt. of Olives, He then began to descend into the Valley of Kidron where He had a panoramic view of the entire city. As He looked down on the city, He burst into tears.
This cry wasn't a normal cry that we think about. The Greek word for weeping is klaio which means intense sobbing. It is the kind of weeping which suddenly seizes you that you lose control and cry out loud. Luke 19:37 tells us many people were there to see Him cry, and I'm sure they they were confused that in the midst of all the cheers would come tears from the King Himself.
Why did Jesus weep at the city He loved?
Luke 19:41-44 gives us two reasons. Let's look at the passage:
"And when He drew near and saw the city, He wept over it, 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. 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 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."
The text gives us two reasons why Jesus cried over the city.
1. The People Missed the Peace that Was Right in Front of Them.
Although the people thought Jesus was bringing peace through war, they didn't understand why He came to them. He came to bring eternal peace. He came to bring shalom. Shalom is the expression of God setting everything right. In a world of earthquakes, coronaviruses, cancer, and war, God's peace through Jesus Christ is the one place necessary for all these broken parts to ever be restored. Everything that is broken in our lives and in our world will be put back together and made whole again only in Jesus.
The Prince of Peace was standing right in front of them, and they missed it. They did not acknowledge Jesus as the King of all Kings, the God of all gods. Instead, they simply viewed Him as a human king who would lead them into victory.
Jesus said, "Now the peace is hidden from your eyes (Luke 19:42)."
2. The People Would Face a Future Judgment.
Jesus prophesied the city's future doom. In the next generation, Roman General Titus would come, and he constructed barricades and ramps in order to take the city. He brought troops to surround the city, and the troops waited til the Jews were famished from starvation. Then, they rushed in and slaughtered thousands of them. The Great Siege of 70 AD was the first holocaust ever recorded. Not one stone was left upon another, and the city was burned to the ground.
Jesus looked upon the city that He loved and wept because He knew the future judgment was coming. He told them a future judgment was coming because, "you did not know the time of your visitation (Luke 19:44)."
The word visitation in Greek is episcopas. Epi means super, scopas is an instrument that you use to look at things like a microscope, telescope, or a scope on a rifle. You put the two words together and get super-scope or supervisor. The word episcopas is where we get the word Episcopal or Bishop. A Bishop is one who is placed in charge to look after and care for his people.
The word episcopas comes from the Greek military community where from time to time, the General would drop in unannounced and review and inspect the troops to see if they were battle-ready. If the troops were battle-ready, they received the praise of the General. If they were not prepared, the General would bring a hard fist of judgment.
Jesus wept over the city of Jerusalem because they weren't ready when the General came to town. They were not prepared and missed out on worshipping and following Him. God in flesh was standing right before their eyes, and they missed it!
Because they missed the General and weren't ready, a future judgment would come.
The triumphal entry foreshadows the final entry when Jesus will return, but when Jesus returns, this entry will be much different. When Jesus comes again, a new Jerusalem will come down to this earth, and Jesus will ride on a horse and not a donkey. Jesus will come and bring judgment to this world, and instead of bringing peace, He will bring war. This war will be against the rulers of darkness (Revelation 19:11-21:5). Jesus, the General, will come unnannounced.
Are you ready for the General to come? Are you missing the peace that is in front of you?
This Easter week, please spend time with the Prince of Peace and ask Him, "Lord, what would you have me do for you? Who would you have me be?"