It has been a long journey. It began in Luke 9.51 when Jesus set his face to go to Jerusalem. And now finally, Jesus crests one final hill and the holy city is in full view. To be sure, glimpses of it have been seen in the preceding passage (v.37, he was coming down the mount of Olives) and also Jesus has gone up each year for different feasts (see John 7.1ff), but this time it’s different. This time there’s…
We see the pain of our Lord in v.41: “…he wept over [the city]…” As Jerusalem comes into full view, Jesus’ heart is broken. Previously in Luke, Jesus lamented over Jerusalem’s rejection of the prophets and pointed to his coming rejection when he will arrive at Jerusalem. But now his heart is broken because this city, it people have something very bad coming, even, the judgment of God is coming upon them. And this is not quiet weeping…not the Greek word is that of loud wailing and crying out with audible noice. Here is the Master’s heart, broken over the unfaithfulness of his people.
Out of the pain is a prediction. I believe this is a slight play on words which Jesus takes advantage when he talks about the “the things that make for peace.” Jerusalem means “city of peace.” Yet, only hostility awaits them. The Jews have shut their eyes and ears to the message of peace found in the gospel. And because their is open hostility toward God, the know not peace. In addition, there is coming a day when the Romans will come against Jerusalem. V.42 mentions what is on the horizon. The Roman army with come and beseige Jerusalem. This involved surrounding the city with pointed stakes to ensure no one got in or out. All the way around will Jerusalem be surrounded. Once the Romans have seiged Jerusalem and breached her walls, then they will level the city.
In another place and speaking of the temple in Jerusalem, Jesus says, “there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down” (Matt 24.2, ESV). Indeed, the entire city will be utterly destroyed. Josephus documents this tragic event in Jewish history in his “The Wars of the Jews” (see “The Wars of the Jews” 6.8.1, 4 concerning the surrounding of Jerusalem with ramps [fulfilling v.43] and 6.9.2 for the slaying that takes place when Jerusalem falls [fulfillment of v.44]). In “The Wars of the Jews,” the scene of carnage is depicted as the Roman soldiers (who are already tired of all the killing they have endured during the entire seige of Jerusalem) “slew the aged and the infirm.” The rest of the people are taken into captivity. Truly, the devastation of Jerusalem was total, both city and people.
And what is to blame for this grand tragedy which will take place in AD 70? Jesus says, “you did not know the time of your visitation.” In a word – ignorance. For stubborn rebellion and refusing to listen to God’s prophets and God’s Son, Jerusalem will face the coming wrath of God when he “visits” them in AD 70. We, in the religious realm, often speak of the “coming of the Lord” as though it is a one time event. On the contrary, Scriptures often speak of the coming of the Lord and you can read about the many times God has come in judgment (Psa 22.19, on enemies; Psa 50.3; Isa 13.9, on Babylon; Isa 19.1, against Egypt; Isa 26.21, inhabitants of the earth (not final judgment); Jer. 4.13, against his people Judah and specifically Jerusalem; et al.)
I believe it is Jesus’ knowledge of His people’s stubbornness and refusal of the grace of God which causes him to weep and wail over Jerusalem. In addition, Jesus himself is a Jew and knows the true significance of this city: it is the center of Judaism and worship to Jehovah. I believe his heart is broken over the coming desvastation and destruction that the city and the people will endure for their continued ignorance. Truly, even today, Jesus knows the coming wrath of God for those who continue in open rebellion to God and His commands. Only in Christ do we have the blessed assurance that there is no condemnation (Romans 8.1) and it is only by baptism that we enter into Christ (Romans 6.3). I urge all to make peace with God (Romans 5.1, 9; 6.3-5; Acts 2.38, 42).