Most people know that Jesus wept at Lazarus’s tomb before He raised him back to life. It’s a touching scene, one that has produced any number of sermons.
Fewer people, I tend to think, know about Jesus weeping over Jerusalem on his final entry into the City of David. Luke records the scene, as well as the build up to it. Clearly Jesus cared deeply—not for the walls and the buildings, but for what Jerusalem stood for. This was the place God intended to be central to His worship. His people were there, the temple known as His house was there.
As soon as He was approaching, near the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the miracles which they had seen, shouting:
“Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord;
Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”
Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Him, “Teacher, rebuke Your disciples.” But Jesus answered, “I tell you, if these become silent, the stones will cry out!”
When He approached Jerusalem, He saw the city and wept over it, saying, “If you had known in this day, even you, the things which make for peace! But now they have been hidden from your eyes. For the days will come upon you when your enemies will throw up a barricade against you, and surround you and hem you in on every side, and they will level you to the ground and your children within you, and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not recognize the time of your visitation.” (Luke 19:37-44)
Earlier, when Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem, He had similar thoughts:
O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, just as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not have it! (Luke 13:34)
Jesus was deeply moved by the rejection of His rebellious people. He wanted them to receive their King, to experience the peace with God offered.
Scripture makes it clear that God’s desire is still for rebellious people to repent and turn to Him. Jesus said in Matthew, “It is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones perish” (18:14) Then in 1 Timothy, Paul wrote
This [prayer on behalf of all men] is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
I’m in awe that Jesus unabashedly wept for those who ended up turning their back on Him; that God, loving the world so much, paid the price for our sin just so we could enjoy peace with Him:
you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ. (1 Peter 1:18-19)
I’ve never thought about it much before, but might not Jesus weep for each person who walks away from Him?
Jeremiah is sometimes called the weeping prophet because in a number of places Scripture mentions him weeping for Judah and their stubborn, rebellious heart—well, more often for the destruction of the nation which he foresaw.
At one point he prophesied that the people who had been taken to Babylon in the first wave of captivity would be better off than those left in Judah. They would prosper in their new land and one day be restored to their home. But those who stayed or who fled to Egypt would bring destruction on their heads. I’m sure the people who heard him thought he was nuts. Captivity good, freedom bad, he seemed to be saying.
The problem was, they had limited sight. Jeremiah was speaking the words given him by omniscient God.
So, too, Jesus knows we are in desperate need of His life-giving blood—more dramatically in need than if we were bleeding out and only a transfusion could save us. We, the walking wounded spiritually, are oblivious to our condition much of the time. When the truth breaks through, some hide from it or run as fast as they can to escape the awareness of their condition, but others cast themselves on God’s mercy, realizing that Jesus bled out for us.
Why, then, wouldn’t He weep over those who wave Him off and walk on by or sprint from Him to their own destruction?
This post, minus some revision, first appeared here in March 2013.