************ Sermon on Luke 19:41 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on April 4, 2004
"Jesus Wept Over Jerusalem"
I Joy And Sorrow
A The Palm Sunday crowds were excited. They were waving palm branches. They spread their cloaks on the road. They were shouting "Hosanna" and "Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!" Jesus was coming into Jerusalem, riding a donkey.
It was the time of the Passover and Jerusalem was filled with pilgrims from Judea and Galilee. Many of these had seen Jesus perform wondrous miracles; as Jesus put it, "the blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor" (Lk 7:22).
The Palm Sunday crowds were excited. They looked at the Old Testament prophets and they were convinced Jesus was the Messiah-King. Didn't Zechariah speak of this?
(Zech 9:9) Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.Jesus on a donkey riding into Jerusalem sure seems to fulfill Zechariah's prophecy.
The Palm Sunday crowds were excited. They looked at the Old Testament prophets and they were convinced Jesus was the Messiah-King. Didn't Isaiah speak of this?
(Is 35:5-6) Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped. (6) Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy.Jesus' miracles sure seems to fulfill Isaiah's prophecy.
(Is 61:1-2) The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, (2) to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn ...
The Palm Sunday crowds were excited. Jesus was the Messiah-King Who would rescue His people and save His people and redeem His people and make them free. Jesus was the Messiah-King Who would reestablish the might of David's kingdom and the glory of Solomon's.
No wonder the crowds were shouting and waving palm branches and spreading their cloaks on the road.
B In stark contrast to the jubilant crowds was Jesus Himself. What did He do when He approached Jerusalem? He wept! While the people were shouting and waving palm branches, Jesus was crying. The crowds were celebrating and Jesus was weeping. Tears were falling from His cheeks. Sobs were coming from His chest and throat.
Why? Why His tears? Why His sobs? Why His weeping? Because Jesus looked into the future and He saw judgment and destruction falling upon Jerusalem and her people:
(Lk 19:43-44) 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. (44) They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another ...
II Judgment and Destruction
A Did you know that the Jews have set aside a day that commemorates what Jesus was weeping about on Palm Sunday? It is called the "The Fast of the Fifth Month."
The Fast of the Fifth Month commemorates what are generally acknowledged to be the two most tragic events in Jewish history. It was on this day that the Babylonians destroyed Solomon's Temple in 586 B.C., and on this day in A.D. 70 the Romans leveled the Second Temple with fire.
The destruction of Solomon's Temple was not a solitary, isolated event. Its final destiny was determined by a century of grievous sin and rebellion, interrupted only by the righteous reign of King Josiah. Wicked king after wicked king refused to listen to the call for repentance and led the nation ever closer towards divine judgment.
In 608 B.C., Jehoiakim became king of Judah. Like his fathers before him, he continued to do "evil in the eyes of the Lord" (2 Ki 23:37). Therefore, three years later, the Lord caused Jerusalem to fall into the hands of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar subjected Judah to heavy taxes and carried away many of the nobility to Babylon, including Daniel and his three friends (Dan 1:3,6).
But Jehoiakim refused to repent of his wickedness. He continued to despise the word of the Lord that came through Jeremiah. He tried to have Jeremiah killed. When this failed, he barred Jeremiah from the Temple, to silence his faithful and uncompromising preaching. The Lord then commanded Jeremiah to dictate his prophecies to his scribe Baruch to be read in the Temple. Jehoiakim confiscated the scroll, cut it into pieces, and burned the words of the Lord to warm his winter palace (Jer 36). But the word of the Lord was not to be thwarted. A few years later, Jehoiakim rebelled against Babylon and was carried off in chains and humiliation along with many of the golden vessels from the Temple.
His son Jehoiachin reigned for three months and was deposed by Nebuchadnezzar. He was exiled to Babylon together with "all the officers and fighting men, and all the craftsmen and artisans–a total of ten thousand. Only the poorest people of the land were left" (2 Ki 24:14). The prophet Ezekiel was also carried away at this time.
Nebuchadnezzar appointed Zedekiah, uncle of Jehoiachin, as the new king. But Zedekiah did not learn from those before him and followed them in their sins:
(2 Chr 36:12,14,16) He did evil in the eyes of the LORD his God and did not humble himself before Jeremiah the prophet, who spoke the word of the LORD ... (14) Furthermore, all the leaders of the priests and the people became more and more unfaithful, following all the detestable practices of the nations and defiling the temple of the LORD, which he had consecrated in Jerusalem ... (16) But they mocked God's messengers, despised his words and scoffed at his prophets until the wrath of the LORD was aroused against his people and there was no remedy.
Divine judgment could no longer be delayed. Nebuchadnezzar came up against Jerusalem to crush a new rebellion. Jerusalem fell in 586 B.C. after a blistering 1.5 year siege. After all the executions and deportations were carried out, the captain of the Babylonian army followed orders and set his soldiers on a burning rampage. Every section of Jerusalem's walls was battered and toppled to the ground. For 4 days the Babylonians torched the palaces of the royal family and the mansions of the rich. They stripped the Temple of all its gold, silver, and brass and then burned the building to the ground.
And so it was that "The Fast of the Fifth Month" became a national day of grieving and fasting over the destruction of the Temple.
B But the tragic story continues. Six centuries later, Israel repeated her sin, with the same disastrous results. This time she rejected her greatest prophet, the Messiah. As Jesus put it, "you did not know what would bring you peace" – in the sense of shalom and fulfillment (Lk 19:42). "You did not recognize the time of God's coming to you" (Lk 19:44).
In A.D. 66 the Jews rebelled against Roman rule. The Romans' counterattack was directed first against Galilee. During the Passover season in the year A.D. 70, when many pilgrims had come into the city, the Roman General Titus marched on Jerusalem. When the Jewish defenders destroyed a wall of wooden stakes the Romans built around the city, it was replaced with a stone siege-dike, an embankment of the type mentioned by Jesus. Now none of the inhabitants, nor the pilgrims, could escape and no reinforcements or supplies could get in. Jewish resistance fighters who were captured were nailed by the Romans to crosses which were set up on the banks around the city, in order to terrify the Jews into surrender. When the Romans broke through after a bitter 5 month struggle, the furious soldiers mercilessly killed every Jew they met. All of the city was destroyed – including the glorious rebuilt Temple. All that was left standing was a small section of the wall surrounding the Temple Mount (the famous wailing wall) and a few tower fortifications. Over a million Jews, young and old, were said to have lost their life in the war.
This sad event, too, is remembered by the Jewish people in "The Fast of the Fifth Month."
III Future Fulfillment
A In prophesying the destruction of Jerusalem, Jesus was also thinking of another judgment that is far more terrifying, a judgment that is foreshadowed or prefigured in the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. This judgment we know as the Final Judgment of eternal death. In talking about this, the Bible speaks of the "gnashing of teeth," "second death," "burning sulphur," "lake of fire," and "the seven bowls of God's wrath" (cf Rev. 16-19). Those who experience this judgment experience something far worse than those who lived through the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple in either 586 B.C. or A.D. 70.
B Must Jesus weep over Israel forever? Is Israel forever destined to mourn her sin and the loss of her Temple? The Lord Himself answered through the prophet:
(Zech 8:19) This is what the LORD Almighty says: "The fasts of the fourth, fifth, seventh and tenth months will become joyful and glad occasions and happy festivals for Judah. Therefore love truth and peace.""The Fast of the Fifth Month" will become a happy day, a day of feasting rather than a day of fasting.
How? Why? Because a day is coming – perhaps shortly – when the Lord will turn away His anger and the Messiah will return. And, do you know what will happen then?
(Zech 6:12-13) ... this is what the LORD Almighty says: 'Here is the man whose name is the Branch, and he will branch out from his place and build the temple of the LORD. (13) It is he who will build the temple of the LORD, and he will be clothed with majesty and will sit and rule on his throne. And he will be a priest on his throne. And there will be harmony between the two.'On that day there will no longer be any need for fasting because sins have been forgiven and the Temple has been rebuilt.
Jesus wept at the grave of Lazarus. In this morning's Scripture reading we see another time that His tears are recorded: He cried as He approached Jerusalem. He wept and cried because the people of Israel did not know – in fact, they refused to know – what brought peace. They refused to admit that peace comes by way of the cross and the grave, by way of a King Who wore a crown of thorns (HOLD UP THORNS).
Jesus wept over Jerusalem. If Israel had only repented and believed. If Israel had only recognized the time of God's coming. If Israel had only known what brings peace. But she did not. So Jesus wept.
Jesus approached Jerusalem and wept. He knew that the children of Israel rejected Him as the Messiah. He knew that the children of Israel did not accept Him as Savior and Lord. They should have known better: they had the Old Testament Scriptures which pointed to Jesus, and, for 3 years they witnessed the presence of God in the life and ministry of Jesus. Time after time Jesus reached out to them in love. Jesus said,
(Lk 13:34) ... how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! That sums it up perfectly: Israel was not willing; she refused to accept the evidence that Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah, the Savior. Israel rejected Jesus, just like she has rejected many of the prophets of old (Lk 13:34; cf Lk 11:47ff; 1 K 18:4,13; 19:10; Jer 26:20ff; Neh 9:26). Israel rejected Jesus, so there awaited her only the fearful prospect of judgment.
We know that just as He wept over Jerusalem so Jesus weeps over every lost soul that is exiled to hell's eternity. He weeps that people continue to be ignorant of what makes for peace. He weeps that people still do not recognize the time of God's coming.
Does Jesus weep over you as well? Have you, by grace, repented of your sin and believe in Jesus? Do you know and experience the peace that comes from having a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ? If your answer is "No" then Jesus is weeping over you even as He wept over Jerusalem. However, if your answer is "Yes" then there is much rejoicing in heaven among the angels before the throne.
Unless you are washed by the blood of the Lamb, Jesus is weeping over you. Unless you have given your life and your heart to Him, Jesus is weeping over you. Unless you know Jesus as Savior and Lord, He is weeping over you.
Does Christ have to weep over any of us like He wept over Jerusalem?
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