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Author:Rev. Stephen 't Hart
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Congregation:Free Reformed Church of Baldivis
 Baldivis, Western Australia
 frca.org.au/baldivis/
 
Title:King Jesus cries over the condemned city of Jerusalem
Text:Luke 19:41-44 (View)
Occasion:Easter
Topic:Repentance
 
Preached:2012-04-01
Added:2012-05-08
 

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

Liturgy from 1984 Book of Praise.  Bible: NKJV
Note:  Sermon written for the Sunday before Good Friday

Hymn 25:1,2,3

Psalm 24:2,3,5

Psalm 48:1,2,3,4

Psalm 22:10,11

Psalm 118:7,8

 

Read:  Luke 19:28-48

Text:  Luke 19:41-44

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Stephen 't Hart, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.


Beloved congregation of our Lord Jesus Christ.

In the year 1863, a certain Reverend James W. Lee visited the city of Jerusalem.  Upon entering the city through one of its gates, he walked along the narrow cobbled streets until he came to an ancient Limestone wall.  What he observed at that wall, Rev. Lee described as follows:

“On Friday afternoon, March 13, 1863, the writer visited this sacred spot. Here he found between one and two hundred Jews of both sexes and of all ages, standing or sitting, and bowing as they read, chanted and recited, moving themselves backward and forward, the tears rolling down many a face; they kissed the walls and wrote sentences in Hebrew upon them... The lamentation which is most commonly used is from Psalm 79: "O God, the heathen are come into Thy inheritance; Thy holy temple have they defiled."

The wall that Rev. Lee saw in Jerusalem is known as the Western or the Wailing Wall.  It was built by King Herod the Great in the year 19 Before Christ, and it was constructed as a retaining wall to build up the place where Herod built the glorious temple of the Lord.  Today if you were to visit the old city of Jerusalem you will still see that wall, and every day you will still see Jewish men and women assemble there to pray.  And some will come there to cry.  And as they cry, they are traditionally expected to pray,

“Our Holy Temple, which was our glory, in which our forefathers praised You, was burned and all of our delights were destroyed"

And turning to the place where the Mercy Gate is believed to have been, an old Jewish law instructs them to recite from the Book of Lamentations, chapter 2:9,

“Her gates have sunk into the ground; He has destroyed and broken her bars.  Her king and her princes are among the nations; the Law is no more, and her prophets find no vision from the LORD.”

The Wailing Wall is all that is left of the great temple of the LORD.  And so the Jews return time and again, to reflect, to pray, and at times to cry.  And they also go there to wait.  To wait for Messiah to come.  For it is traditionally believed by some that when water starts trickling through the stones of the Wailing Wall, then the Messiah would soon appear.

But they wait in vain, they pray in vain and they cry in vain.  For the time of their visitation, the time when the Lord came to His people has passed.  John 1:11,

“He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him.”

And that is the sad thing about it all.  And that is what caused our Lord to cry as He drew near and saw the city of Jerusalem in Luke chapter 19.  He wept for Jerusalem, the city that killed her prophets and stoned those who were sent to her.  He wept for Jerusalem, a city that refused to receive Him as the Saviour.  He wept for Jerusalem, for a people who did not know the things that would bring them peace.  And so I preach to you the Word of the Lord under the following theme:

King Jesus cries over the condemned city of Jerusalem.

1.    A Godly Grief.

2.    A Certain Condemnation.

3.    A Compassionate Call.

1. A Godly Grief.

The Sunday before Good Friday is traditionally known as Palm Sunday.  It is the day we remember the triumphal entry of our Lord into the city of Jerusalem.  Since Luke chapter 9 He had steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem, and now He was almost there.  Some weeks earlier He had been on the other side of the river Jordan, then He had gone to Bethany where He raised his friend Lazarus from the dead.  Then He had headed north into Galilee before going south again to Jericho.  At Jericho He had healed a blind man and then He entered the house of Zacchaeus the chief tax collector.  There He declared that salvation had come to the house of a sinner, and that the Son of Man had come to seek and save that which was lost.  And now He had walked about 30 km from Jericho to Jerusalem, and had come to the Mount of Olives.  Soon He would crest the top of the Mount of Olives, see the beautiful city of Jerusalem spread out before Him, and then He would publicly make His way in to the City of the Great King, to His city, for the last time. 

And now it was time to enter the city as the Great King.  In times past, He had not allowed the people to make Him king by force, but now He would take the initiative, for now was the time to declare who He was and what He was about to do.

And so He sent two of His disciples to enter a nearby village to find a young donkey there, untie it and bring it to Him.  The disciples did so and they brought the colt to Jesus.  And they threw their clothes onto the colt as a make-shift saddle and set Jesus on it.  And then, as Jesus went on down the Mount of Olives, the people spread their clothes on the road and they lined the street with palm branches.  And so they proclaimed Jesus to be the Great King, the Son of David.  And as they began to go down the Mount of Olives and into Jerusalem the disciples along with the whole multitude began to rejoice and to praise God saying,

“Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the LORD!  Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”  (Luke 19:38)

And with these words the crowds were blending the words of the song that the angels sang at Christ’s birth with the words of Psalm 118:26, one of the Psalms that the people regularly sang as they made their way up to Jerusalem,

“Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!”

This was the culmination that the disciples and indeed all the people had hoped to see.  Here was their final proof that Jesus was the long awaited Messiah!  They had seen Him heal the sick; they had seen Him cure the blind and they had seen Him raise the dead.  They had heard Him preach the Good News of the Kingdom of Heaven.  And now here He was: being publicly declared to be the Promised King, the Son of David.  This was great!  This was exciting!  This was the best day ever!

But in contrast to the crowds, as the Lord Jesus came over the Mount of Olives and rounded a bend in the road, He stopped to look.  And there, a little lower than where He was, across the Kidron Valley, was the city of Jerusalem.  Jerusalem!  Beautiful to behold, the joy of the whole earth.  Jerusalem! The city that Psalm 48 calls “the city of the Great King” and “the city of our God”.  The city that God would establish forever.  “Let Mount Zion rejoice, “ the psalmist sang,

“Let the daughters of Judah be glad! (Psalm 48:11a)

But while the crowds rejoiced as King Jesus came down the Mount of Olives and up into Jerusalem, when Jesus saw the city, He wept.

Jesus wept.  He cried with shaking sobs. The Greek word that is used in our text speaks of a loud crying and weeping.  He was overwhelmed, stricken with grief.

And so it happened that while the crowds sang their hosannas and rejoiced as they escorted their King into Jerusalem, that Jesus, seeing things for how they really were, wept over the city He was about to enter.

O Jerusalem! Jerusalem, O City of God!  The city that had received so much and seen so much!  Jerusalem!  The place where so many years ago Melchizedek had been priest and king to God Most High.  Jerusalem!  The city that David had made the capital city of Israel, the place where not only would he have his palace, but the place where God’s temple would be built.  Jerusalem!  The city of peace where the LORD dwelled in the midst of her.  Oh Jerusalem!

“If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace!  But now they are hidden from your eyes.  For the days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side, and level you, and your children within you, to the ground; and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not know the time of your visitation.”

Jerusalem!  Our Lord cried out of love for the Great City. 

He would not have remembered the first time He entered Jerusalem, when He was presented at the temple and when Simeon prophesied that He would be destined for the fall and rising of many in Israel.  But Jesus would have remembered the time when He was 12 years old, when He came with his parents to Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast of Passover, and when he sat with the teachers in the temple, listening to them and asking them questions.  He would have remembered the times that He had come to Jerusalem since then and had spoken to the people there the words of life.  And He loved Jerusalem, not just for its beauty but also for what it was.  Jerusalem was the place where the LORD had chosen to dwell with His people.  Jerusalem was the place where the sins of the people were atoned for through the blood of a lamb.  Jerusalem was the place that spoke of the grace, of the mercy and of the salvation of God.

But when Jesus came as Jerusalem’s king, riding on a donkey, and he saw the city, He wept with a godly grief.  This was the city that had both suffered so much and had received so much.  This was the city that had killed her prophets and stoned those who were sent to her.  This was the city that had been destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar 600 years earlier, but had then seen the favour of the LORD rest upon it once again.  This was the city that the LORD had shown such grace and mercy, being patient with His peoples’ sins and shortcomings.  This was the city that God had preserved for the day that He would send His Immanuel, God-With-Us, so that salvation would come out of Zion, out of Jerusalem.  This was the city that had received the promise of a glorious future.  Isaiah 62:11,12

 “Indeed the LORD has proclaimed to the end of the world: ‘Say to the daughter of Zion, “surely your salvation is coming; behold His reward is with Him, and His work before Him.”’  And they shall call them The Holy People, the Redeemed of the LORD; and you shall be called Sought Out, A City Not Forsaken.”

But now the day of visitation had finally come.  Now the Messiah was about to enter the city as Jerusalem’s king.  But when Jesus sees the city of Jerusalem, He weeps. 

“If you had known, even you especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace!”

All that had gone on in Jerusalem for all those years was in anticipation of this time, when the Messiah would enter the city, riding on a donkey, to save his people from their sins.  But for all the cheering and all the Hosannas, most of the people accompanying Jesus, and especially most of the people of Jerusalem, did not see Jesus for who He really is.  The crowds wanted a king who would drive out the Romans and restore the nation to its former glory.  And the Pharisees and the other religious leaders wanted nothing else than for the crowds to stop their hosannas and for them to be rid of Jesus forever.  Jerusalem, the place where the LORD chose to dwell in the midst of His people, did not receive the eternal Son when He came to them riding on a donkey.  And that caused Jesus to weep with godly grief.  For Jerusalem was His city, and the inhabitants of the city were His people, children of His covenant.  And it broke His heart when He saw what would happen to Jerusalem because they had rejected His coming.

This was not the only time that Christ had lamented over Jerusalem. In Luke 13:24 He had cried out in anguish,

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her!  How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you were not willing!”

And our Lord Jesus is still the same today.  The One who came to seek and to save the lost is grieved by those who turn away from Him.   And that may comfort us.  For there are times when a person whom we dearly love turns away from the Lord and the grace He offers, and we feel so alone in our grief.  We pray to God but we wonder if it even makes a difference.  “Dear Lord God, don’t you care that the one I love so much is walking away from you?!”  But then we may remember our Lord Jesus Christ.  True God and True Man, on His way to Jerusalem as the King of Righteousness and the King of Peace.  And when He saw Jerusalem, He wept.

“If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace!  But now they are hidden from your eyes.”

In Jesus Christ we have a Saviour who weeps over those who do not turn to Him.  He has no pleasure in the death of the wicked.  It breaks His heart.

2. A Certain Condemnation.

In Christ we see the Son of God reaching out to His wayward children, calling them to come to Him as a hen gathers her chicks beneath her wings.  But in Christ we are also met with the mighty Lion of Judah.  The coming of the Messiah was good news and great joy for all people for He came to seek and to save that which was lost.  But while the day of God’s visitation, the sending of His Son, is salvation for those who receive Him in faith, it is at the same time judgment for those who reject Him.  And that would be the inevitable consequence for the city of Jerusalem, the city that had received so much but rejected the Son when He came to them.

And the judgment upon Jerusalem would result in its complete and total destruction.  And what our Lord Jesus wept over with godly grief on the day that rode into Jerusalem as its King, came to pass about 40 years later. 

In the year 66 AD the people of Jerusalem revolted against the Romans.  Then four years later the Romans surrounded the city of Jerusalem and besieged it. Five months after the siege began the Romans poured into the city and overpowered the starving Jews who were there.  They slaughtered more than a million Jews in the most horrific circumstances.  Men and women, old and young, soldiers and priests, those who fought and those who begged for mercy were mown down like grass.  The blood of the Jewish people flowed through the streets like water. 

And not content with the killing of its citizens, the Roman emperor ordered the entire city and the temple be razed to the ground so that there would not be one stone upon the other, leaving only the highest towers and a portion of that Western Wall as a memory of the great city that was once there.  And according to the Jewish historian Josephus, the devastation was so complete that when the Roman General, Titus, saw it, he threw his arms towards heaven, uttered a groan and called God to witness that this was not his doing. 

Oh Jerusalem!  If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace!  But now they are hidden from your eyes.

Jesus knew what was coming, and so in the week that led to His crucifixion, He spoke at length about the destruction that was to come upon Jerusalem, the city that had received so much but had ultimately rejected the Saviour when He came to them.   For those who reject Christ as their Lord and Saviour will no longer have a sacrifice for sins left.

But that is not where it all ends.  For the destruction of Jerusalem is picture of the wrath to come. Revelation 6:15-17 describes the final day of the Lord’s visitation.  And this is how those who did not turn to the Lord in faith and repentance will respond:

“And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains, and said to the mountains and the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb!  For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?”

There we see the horror of the certain condemnation that awaits those who turn their backs on the Saviour.  It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.  His anger against sin is so great that He can not leave it unpunished, and those who persist in their sin will experience the anguish and the torment of hell.

When our Lord Jesus stood on the Mount of Olives and saw Jerusalem, He wept over it, for He knew what would happen to Jerusalem and all those who rejected His coming.  And yet we must remember that it was not for its condemnation that He continued on His way to Jerusalem, but for the salvation of all those whom the Father had given Him.  It was for our salvation, that we might be delivered from God’s wrath that our Lord Jesus continued to down to Jerusalem.  Hell is a real place and the condemnation of God against sin is certain.  But when we begin to  comprehend something of the full consequences of the justice and the wrath of God against sin, then we also begin to understand the wonder of His love.  For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them.

3. A Compassionate Call.

Our God is sovereign.  His is in control of all things, also when it comes to our salvation.  No one can come to the Son unless the Father draws him.  And so it was by God’s sovereign decree that the things that made for the peace of Jerusalem were hidden from their eyes.  But we may never use the doctrine of God’s sovereign election to think that the salvation of the sinner is unimportant.  Nor may we use this doctrine to present God as cold and distant and un-moved when people reject Him.  We can not fully understand the mind of God, for He is infinitely greater that us.  But when we see Jesus weeping over Jerusalem we do get a glimpse into the very heart of God.  It is the picture of Christ crying over the condemned city of Jerusalem that we should read Scripture passages such as 1 Timothy 2:4 where it says that God our Saviour

“… desires all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.”

And 2 Peter 3:9,

“The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.”

The things that make for peace were hidden from the eyes of the people of Jerusalem, but may never blame God for their unbelief, nor think that God looks on who reject Him with cold indifference.  As we confess in chapter III/IV, article 8 of the Canons of Dort,

“As many as are called by the gospel are earnestly called, for God earnestly and most sincerely reveals in His Word what is pleasing to Him, namely, that those who are called should come to Him.”

And so our Lord wept, and as He was weeping He was calling an unrepentant city to turn to Him and live.  Indeed, His compassion for Jerusalem was so great that even while He was on His way to the cross in Luke 23 and the women of the city cried in pity over what was happening to Him, He said to them –

“Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for Me, but weep for yourselves and for your children.”  (Luke 23:28)

And why?  Because the axe was laid at the root of the tree, the day of judgment was at hand. 

And so we also must share the heart of Christ, and join in making a compassionate call to those who do not know the things that make for peace.  We live in a city where thousands either never knew Him or reject Him.  We live in a world where the darkness threatens to overcome the light.  We live in families and in communities where one has turned to Christ in faith and repentance while the other has turned away.  To proclaim the gospel and to call people to faith in Christ is not just an external command, something we need to do or pay our money towards because the Bible says so.  To proclaim the gospel and to call people to faith in Christ is something that must come from the heart.  From a heart that weeps for the lost, and that earnestly desires the salvation of those who do not know Christ. 

Jerusalem, of course, was a special city and the people in it were God’s covenant children.  To them were given the promises, and so their rejection of those covenant promises was particularly distressing and the fall of Jerusalem gave Jesus particular reason to weep.  But He would still enter Jerusalem as its King.  And from Jerusalem also , the Lord would call His own.  When Christ hung on the cross of Golgotha, He also died for many who were in the crowd shouting their hosannas, and even for some of those who shouted their “Crucify Him’s” a few days later.  And when he rose from the dead and was about to ascend into heaven, our Lord had not forgotten the Jerusalem that he loved.  The destruction of Jerusalem would not take place right away, but there would be one more call for a generation to turn to find peace and life in Him.  “You shall be witnesses of Me,” Christ said, “first in Jerusalem, then in Judea and Samaria and then to the end of the earth.”  And when on the Day of Pentecost and the days that followed the gospel was preached in Jerusalem, many gladly received the gospel promise and found life in Jesus Christ.

If you were to visit the city of Jerusalem, you will see that it has been rebuilt.  It is once more a beautiful city to see and walk through.  But in the city there is still that one Wailing Wall to which the Jews go to remember the city that used to be.  They go there to reflect, to pray and some to cry.  The destruction that our Lord foretold came to pass.  But so did the salvation that He had come to bring!  For Christ came to die for Jerusalem, for every person whom the Father had given Him.  And He calls each one of us to turn to Him and live. 

And now in Christ our weeping for the Jerusalem of old turns to joy as we look forward to a new Jerusalem.  A new Jerusalem that is so much better, so much more wonderful, so much more glorious than the old.   In Christ we may look forward to the New Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God.  And that is the Jerusalem in which we may live!  And when He looks over that city our Lord will never weep!  Rather, in that city God will wipe away every tear from our eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying.  There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.  And there we shall be forever, living before the Father in the Son.  And there we will sing our praises to the King.

“Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the LORD!  Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” 

Amen.




* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Stephen 't Hart, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
(c) Copyright 2012, Rev. Stephen 't Hart

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