It was the triumphal entry – the first Palm Sunday. The crowds were singing and shouting. Waving palms and throwing their coats along the road to make a highway for the King of Kings.
But suddenly the WHOLE PROCESSION STOPS. But why?
Luke 19:41 As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, (Jesus) wept over it.
Jesus was weeping! Palm Sunday was not only a day of cheers. It was also a day of tears. So what was it made Jesus weep as he was approaching Jerusalem in triumph? Four things, at least
1. Jesus was Weeping because people were going to miss out on the real peace he was offering.
42 and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes.
The Contemporary English Version “It is too bad that today your people don’t know what will bring them peace! Now it is hidden from them.”
The Message says it in a much more personal manner “If you had only recognized this day, and everything that was good for you! But now it’s too late.”
Throughout His ministry Jesus had shown compassion for the needy, the poor, the sick, the lost, the helpless.
Matt 9: 35 Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 38 Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”
Despite all his miracles, despite his teachings, Jesus knew that, even after all He had said and done, the leaders and the people of Jerusalem were going to turn on him and crucify Him.
2. Jesus was Weeping because Judgment Day was going to come on Jerusalem and the people were not prepared!
43 The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. 44 They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another,
Less than 40 years later these prophetic words would be fulfilled as the Roman armies would lay siege to Jerusalem and destroy it. So there on Palm Sunday Jesus was weeping over the tragedy of a lost opportunity. The crowds gathering in Jerusalem for the Passover were missing the opportunity to be saved. Saved from earthly destruction and saved from eternal judgment. The Messiah they had been waiting for centuries to welcome was coming to them, but they didn’t know it.
Matthew records a sermon Jesus would preach actually in Jerusalem just a few days later and this is how it ends.
Matthew 23: 37 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing. 38 Look, your house is left to you desolate. 39 For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’”
3. Jesus was Weeping because God was arriving in Jerusalem but the people did not recognise Him!
They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognise the time of God’s coming to you.”
Here was the tragedy – God’s own people did not welcome Jesus – they crucified Him!
JOHN 1:10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognise him. 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him
So there are three reasons why Jesus was weeping as he looked over Jerusalem. And we know there was one more thing which brought tears to the eyes of the Son of God – not on that occasion but previously. Once before, a few weeks earlier, we read that Jesus wept. You will know the occasion well – at the graveside of his dear friend Lazarus.
JOHN 11:32 When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”
33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. 34 “Where have you laid him?” he asked. “Come and see, Lord,” they replied.
35 Jesus wept. 36 Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!”
IT’S OKAY TO CRY.
There is a mistaken idea that “big boys don’t cry.” Big boys may not cry, but real men do. Jesus didn’t criticise the people who were crying at the tomb…instead He joined them and wept WITH them. Indeed Scripture instructs us to weep with those who weep as well as rejoicing with those who rejoice.
We are not meant to suppress our emotions, but learn how to express them appropriately. The early church rejoiced but they also wept. They expressed their sorrows and fears. It’s normal to cry for happiness. And it’s normal for us to cry in pain or sadness or grief. It’s not a lack of faith to be sad at the loss of a loved one. Jesus wept too!
At the graveside Jesus wept over the tragedy of death. Death was never a part of God’s plan for human beings. Death entered the world as a result of Adam and Eve’s disobedience in the garden of Eden. God never wanted us to die. The suffering, the parting, the grieving, are all a result of human sin. So Jesus wept that His dear friend Lazarus had died. And perhaps there at the graveside of Lazarus, Jesus also glimpsed His own mortality. Perhaps Jesus thought ahead and realised he would also have to experience death in the same way. Perhaps there on the road into Jerusalem Jesus was weeping for the death he would experience just seven days later. Perhaps, perhaps not. Either way, Jesus grieved and mourned over the reality and the tragedy of death and the mortality which he fully shared with us all.
Jesus wept in his earthly ministry. And surely God still weeps over the same tragedies today.
1. Jesus was weeping because people were going to miss out on the real peace he was offering.
And today people still miss out on real peace. Our neighbours and friends lost for eternity without Christ.
“If you had only recognized this day, and everything that was good for you! But now it’s too late.”
So many people still totally unable to recognise what is good for them! So many people still needing healing and deliverance,
“When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.”
So many people today still bewildered and harassed and helpless – still like sheep without a shepherd. Alone. Cold. Confused. Afraid. Lost. Sheep gain their identity from their shepherd and their flock. God cares for the lost sheep, lost without the herd and the shepherd. People, like sheep, need their shepherd and their flock. Without these, human beings are alone, cold, confused, afraid, lost.
Jesus still weeps for the people missing out on real peace – surely we should weep too.
2. Jesus was weeping because Judgment Day was going to come on Jerusalem and the people were not prepared!
So many people still facing the righteous Judgment of a holy God, totally unprepared for the day when they will have to give account for the ways they have lives their lives. The thoughts and words and deeds which were evil. The good which was left undone. Through ignorance, through weakness, but most often through their own deliberate fault! So many people facing judgment and we know that in every case the verdict will be the same – guilty as charged! And the punishment they face will be the same too – eternal separation from God the only source of life and light. Jesus still weeps for all these people facing God’s judgment – surely we should weep too.
3. Jesus was weeping because God was arriving in Jerusalem but the people did not recognise Him!
So many people who still do not recognise that Jesus Christ is truly God. Jesus looks across the world and weeps for Jerusalem, for Syria and Iraq, for Nigeria and Ukraine and Crimea and 150 ordinary people who died in that plane crash in the Alps last Tuesday. Jesus looks across England and weeps for London and Birmingham and Manchester – and Chelmsford. He weeps for all the many ways we have turned our backs on God as a nation. Like Jerusalem of old, people have their religions, they have their synagogues and their mosques and their churches, but so many are missing out on the reality of God’s presence! Jesus looks out over our cities today and sees domestic violence. He sees drug addiction and alcoholism, abortion and child abuse. He looks out and sees teenagers drawn into gangs and even drawn to extremism , self-harm, suicide or murder. Jesus sees lives that are falling apart, children without families and hearts that are empty.
Jesus still weeps for all the people who fail to recognise and acknowledge Him as God and Lord of all – surely we should weep too.
4 Jesus wept at the reality and tragedy of death and mortality.
And surely Jesus today weeps for the same reality of death – the ultimate statistic, one out of one die. Jesus still weeps over death – surely we should weep too, over death and over human sin which is the cause of death.
God’s prophets have always wept over the sins of the people.
PSALM 119:135 Make your face shine upon your servant and teach me your decrees.
136 Streams of tears flow from my eyes, for your law is not obeyed.
WE should care when God’s law is not obeyed. Then Jeremiah wrote
Jeremiah 8:21 Since my people are crushed, I am crushed; I mourn, and horror grips me.
22 Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Why then is there no healing
for the wound of my people?
9 1 Oh, that my head were a spring of water and my eyes a fountain of tears!
I would weep day and night for the slain of my people.
2 Oh, that I had in the desert a lodging place for travellers, so that I might leave my people and go away from them; for they are all adulterers, a crowd of unfaithful people.
3 “They make ready their tongue like a bow, to shoot lies; it is not by truth that they triumph in the land. They go from one sin to another; they do not acknowledge me,”
God’s prophets have always wept over the sins of the nation. We should weep too! Our hearts should be breaking because our neighbours are lost without Christ!
William Booth was the founder of the Salvation Army. He sent a group of Salvation Army soldiers to a wicked city and they failed in their efforts to reach the people. They telegraphed General Booth reporting they had tried everything, but nothing worked. They tried everything they could think of to touch the people there. They feeding them, clothing them, and housing them, but there was no response. They asked for his orders, and General Booth telegraphed two words in response: Try tears. Is there a person or problem you have prayed over and tried everything you know of and nothing is working? Try Tears.
Tears are a sign that we truly care…and people need to know we care before they will ever care about what we know.
Jesus wept because of superficial belief. Jesus wept because of spiritual blindness. But it was not for Gentiles that Jesus was weeping. Not for pagans or atheists. Jesus was weeping for Jerusalem. For the city which had been the pride of God’s chosen people for a thousand years. For the place where God had been worshipped in the Great Temples for a thousand years! It was God’s chosen people who had forgotten that God was their peace. The chosen people who had forgotten that Judgment day was coming. God’s own chosen people failing to recognise Jesus Christ as God and Lord of All!
And I believe that sometimes Jesus must weep not only for the fallen world we live in, but also for the state of His church. We can let God down. We can fail to care! Sometimes he stands at the door and knocks, and we fail to let Him in
A newly-appointed pastor was standing at the vestry window weeping as he looked over the tragic conditions in his town. One of his Deacons was trying to console him: “Don’t worry. After you’ve been here a while, you’ll get used to it.” The minister replied, “Yes, I know. That’s why I am crying.”
Jesus looked at the spiritual blindness and superficial belief in Jerusalem and He wept. When was the last time we wept over our city of Chelmsford? We aren’t really going to have an eternal impact on our city until we carry such a burden that we weep for the people here without Jesus, so many who are blinded to the truth about Christ. So let us weep for our city. For North Springfield. For our neighbours. And we begin by weeping for ourselves and our lack of passion for God and compassion for our neighbours.