From today’s reading of Luke 18:15-19:48
And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation.” – Luke 19:41-44 (ESV)
Jesus is weeping as he says these words. It reminds me of another recent episode in his earthly ministry, the raising of Lazarus. Jesus wept then too.
But the grief before Lazarus’ tomb was a different type of grief. There have been many debates as to why Jesus wept over Lazarus, because he knew that he was going to raise him up. I think he wept because of the terrible grief of death that his friends were experiencing; I think he wept because death is so unnatural and so against his desires for his people. I think he wept for the love he had for Mary and Martha and Lazarus and also for the unbelief of the people; a people who would not believe even if one were raised from the dead.
Jesus here weeps for Jerusalem. It is a different kind of grief. He weeps because Jerusalem is going to experience a death that is not going to be quickly reversed. The reason Jerusalem is about to die is because she doesn’t know the time of her visitation. The Lord of glory has ridden into her gates and she has not recognized him.
Jesus speaks here of barricades and sieges and stones. He had recently ordered a stone of death to be rolled away to reveal the raised life inside. Here he speaks of stones coming apart, falling, crumbling, dying. In raising Lazarus Jesus had come to a people, to dear friends of his, who knew who was in their midst. They knew the time of their visitation and knew who had the only answer to their grief.
Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.” – John 11:21-22 (ESV)
Jerusalem was visited by the same life-giving, life-restoring Lord. She just didn’t know him. If only she had recognized him!