This coming Sunday is Palm Sunday. On Palm Sunday many churches in Christianity will remember and pay tribute to the triumphant entry of the Lord Jesus Christ during holy week. But Jesus’s reaction to this time of great festivity and celebration is a very different reaction than one might expect. We see Jesus’s reaction and words in Luke’s Gospel when we read, “As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace – but now it is hidden from your eyes. The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone upon another, because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you,” (Luke 19:41 – 44 NIV). While the crowd was rejoicing Jesus was weeping. It’s the second occasion in Scripture where our Lord wept openly, the first being the tomb of Lazarus. Here Jesus is weeping over the city, lamenting their actions much like the prophet Jeremiah did at the destruction of Jerusalem. In the Greek language the word “wept” is in the aorist active indicative tense, this means He literally burst into tears with deep sorrow and sadness. All of this is the result of seeing the city of Jerusalem. It is truly an amazing sight when one comes over the Mount of Olives for your first view of the city of Jerusalem. Even visiting there today this is one of the most amazing experiences, when you see Jerusalem from this vantage point for the first time. But when Jesus looked over the city, knowing of the leader’s rejection of Himself, He saw something that no one else could see. I appreciate what Warren Wiersbe writes in this regard when he states –“As Jesus looked ahead, He wept as He saw the terrible judgment that was coming to the nation, the city, and the Temple. In A.D. 70, the Romans would come and, after a siege of 143 days, kill 600,000 Jews, take thousands more captive, and then destroy the temple and the city. Why did all this happen? Because the people did not know that God had visited them! “He came unto His own and His own received him not,” (W.W. – The Bible Exposition Commentary, Vol.1, p.255).
Many times in our lives we have opportunities to change the direction and course of our life. These opportunities are frequently precipitated by some great crisis. Think of America as a nation and think how our world was changed after December 7, 1941, or September 11, 2001. How we react to the crisis’ that we experience in our lives will many times determine our usefulness in God’s hands. The cross is the dividing line not only for the nation of Israel but for each of us as individuals as well. As Jesus rode into the city that day, He was riding on a donkey, an animal of peace. We must take note that God visits us in mercy before He comes in wrath and the sympathetic heart of the Lord Jesus Christ is beautifully demonstrated in this passage and His love for humanity. That is contrasted with the proceeding profound joy and celebration of the people. He wept over the city because its people did not understand the significance of what was going on that day.
Jesus then turns his attention to what might’ve happened if the religious leaders had turned to Jesus in peace and praise. He then reveals the consequences that will befall Jerusalem because of their decision to reject their own Messiah. The statement that Jesus made when He said had they “only known” demonstrates Jesus knowledge of the amazing peace that God purposed to bring upon the nation of Israel. It was the yearning of Jesus’ soul to bless them with true happiness, if only they had listened and responded to Jesus in faith. Jesus was not the kind of Messiah they were expecting, so they rejected Him and by so doing sealed their physical destruction and spiritual separation from God. Interestingly, it is historically documented that no Christians died during the fall of Jerusalem. The Christians in Jerusalem heeded Jesus’ warning about a day of coming judgment when an enemy would come and that they should flee to the hills for safety. That’s exactly what the Christians did.
The Jewish leaders had rejected their King and refused God’s offer of salvation in Jesus Christ when they were visited by God Himself. Soon the nation would suffer but Christians who listened to the teaching and counsel of Jesus were delivered from physical destruction 70 A.D., but even more importantly they were delivered unto eternal life through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. This Palm Sunday we as believers in the Lord Jesus have profound reasons to celebrate and worship the Lord Jesus Christ for all that He has done for us. Let’s be like those first century Christians who built their lives on Jesus’s teaching and actions and found safety and eternal life.
Pastor Rich Sivo