As they approach Jerusalem, on the day when the crowds loudly proclaim his triumphal entry, Jesus sees the city ahead and begins to weep. As he weeps, he speaks, and in his words, we hear the future: He predicts that in A.D. 70 the Roman armies will brutally conquer and tear Jerusalem to the ground:
“But as he came closer to Jerusalem and saw the city ahead, he began to weep. ‘How I wish today that you of all people would understand the way to peace. But now it is too late, and peace is hidden from your eyes. Before long your enemies will build ramparts against your walls and encircle you and close in on you from every side. They will crush you into the ground, and your children with you. Your enemies will not leave a single stone in place, because you did not recognize it when God visited you.'”
“The great Ambassador from heaven is here making his public entry in Jerusalem, not to be respected there, but to be rejected; he knew what a nest of vipers he was throwing himself into, and yet…the sin and folly of those that persist in a contempt of gospel grace are a great grief to the Lord Jesus…He looks with weeping eyes upon lost souls that continue impenitent, and run headlong upon their own ruin…Jesus Christ wept in the middle of his triumphs, wept when all about him were rejoicing …”
And: As Christ predicts, in A.D. 70, “The Romans besiege Jerusalem…[Roman historian] Jospehus relates that Titus ran up a wall in a very short time, which surrounded the city and cut off all hopes of escaping. They laid it even to the ground. Titus commanded his soldiers to dig up the city, and the whole compass of it was leveled, except three towers…Not only the city, but the citizens were laid even with the ground (your children with you) by the cruel slaughters that were made of them; and there was scarcely one stone left upon another.” (Matthew Henry’s Commentary, Matthew to John)
Jesus knows the future: He knows those who run headlong to their own ruin; He knows He will be rejected by many, and He looks with grief upon lost souls. The great Ambassador from heaven enters into human life, and He weeps over those who don’t recognize His visitation.
Oh, don’t be one who rejects His way of peace (Matthew 7:13-14). Don’t be one who does not recognize Him!
Painting: Flevit super illam (Translated from the Latin: He wept over it; on the Mount of Olives, with the second temple in the distance, depicting the foretelling of suffering that will come to Jerusalem’s inhabitants in Luke 19:41) by Enrique Simonet, 1892