1. This text divides itself into three paragraphs: Vss. 41-44, the prophecy about the destruction of Jerusalem; 45-46, the second cleansing of the Temple; and 47-48, the attitudes of Jesus' friends and enemies during the last week of His life.
2. All four Evangelists describe Jesus' entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. But only Lk. gives us the information found in vss. 41-44. Many years ago a church was built on the Mt. of Olives to commemorate our text. It is called Dominus Flevit, the Latin for "Jesus wept."
3. Vss. 41-44 are not to be confused with Lk. 13:34-35 which took place during Jesus' Perean Ministry nor with Mt. 23:37-39 which came later during Holy Week. The three incidents of Jesus' grief vividly show that the coming destruction of Jerusalem weighed heavily on Jesus.
4. Vss. 41-44 clearly depict Jesus as human and divine. His weeping shows His humanity. His exact knowledge of the future proves His divinity.
5. Is. 29:1-4, written about 800 B.C., already foretold the final destruction of Jerusalem. It happened in 70 A.D. Josephus, the Jewish historian, describes it in his The Wars, books IV-VI. We summarize what he wrote: The Jews always proved to be the Most rebellious people in the Roman Empire. During the days of the apostles they were warned never again to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem or to fortify their city. But during the 60's of the first century, while Rome experienced internal troubles, the Jews rebuilt their walls and fortified the city. In the year 66 the Emperor Nero sent Gessius Florus and his legions to subdue the city. The Jews killed him and 5000 of his men. This angered Rome very much. They sent Flavius Vespasianus with his legions to deal with the city. Vespasian and his troops moved on to Jerusalem. But Vespasian was recalled to Rome because he was elected Emperor. Titus, his son, took over as commander of Vespasian's men. At the time of the Passover in the year 70 about 1,000,000 Jews gathered in Jerusalem. During the next five months Jerusalem was totally overcome and destroyed. They destroyed themselves. There were three parties in the city who were jealous of each other and did not trust each other. They destroyed each others' food supplies and homes. Thus the Jews were their own worst enemies. Jerusalem was circled by three strong walls. With great effort and at great expense the Romans conquered wall after wall. Then they went after the Temple. It was burned to the ground August 10, 70 A.D. Then 900,000 Jews were killed, starved or sold as slaves. Only about 100,000 survived. So desperate did they become that they killed and ate their own babies. Others ate their own excrement or cow dung. Some were found dead with hay in their mouths. After the city was conquered a soldier detected a Jew extracting gold coins from his own excrement. This gave birth to the rumor that the starving Jews had swallowed their gold. Thousands of Jews were cut open alive for the gold. Thus the most beautiful city of the east was destroyed just as our Lord had repeatedly foretold it. He Himself wept over the city because of its unbelief and rejection of God, His Son and the Covenant. The destruction of Jerusalem is the severest of judgments of God upon man. We should heed Jesus' warning. It could happen to us too.
6. Vs. 42 is an exclamation of grief: "If only you had recognized at this time the things of peace!!!" They had killed the prophets. They had rejected the Messiah. They despised the way of salvation. Jesus adds, "But as it is (the things of peace) are hidden from your eyes." The Jews had blinded themselves. See Jn. 9:39-41. And we know that the natural man cannot perceive the things of the Spirit of God. They are foolishness to him. I Cor. 2:14. Unbelief leaves a person in utter darkness. Is. 1:3 says that Israel had become more stupid than the ox who knows his master and the donkey which knows where its feed comes from. Jn. 1:11 tells us: "He came to His own (people) but His own did not receive Him." He was despised and rejected by His own.
7. Now we move on to vs. 43 of our text. Jesus is foretelling what the historian Josephus recorded forty years later. The Romans are called "your enemies". That was a judgment of God. The Jews and the Romans hated each other intensely. The Romans built a palisade around the city so that the Jews could not escape. The Jews burned it down. The Romans rebuilt it of stone so that no one could escape.
8. Vs. 44 foretells the total destruction of the city. The Romans left a few towers standing so that people would know where the city had been. Why would this happen? Jesus says: "Because you did not recognize the opportunity of your visitation." By "visitation" He means the preaching of the Gospel to the Jews since the days of Abraham, 2000 B.C. Again and again God had sent prophets with the Word but the Jews rejected it just as they rejected the Son of God.
9. Vss. 45-46 tell us about the cleansing of the Temple during Holy Week, the second cleansing. This is described also at Mt. 21:12.13 and Mk. 11:15- 18, the parallel accounts. But this is not the same incident as Jn. 2:13-16 which happened two years earlier at the beginning of Jesus' ministry. Jesus speaks a combination of Is. 56:7 and Jer. 7:11. Already in the days of the prophets Israel had misused the Temple which was built to be a place of forgiveness of sins and worship. Turning a place of worship into a hideout for robbers shows us how far Israel had departed from the Lord. He visibly drove the merchants out of the Temple twice in His career. They resented this. At Lk. 20:2 they asked Him: "By what authority do you do this? Who gave you this authority?" Their questions imply that they did not receive Him as the very Son of God.
10. Vss. 47-48 are a summary of Jesus' teachings in Jerusalem during the last week of His earthly life. The Synoptic Gospels (Mt., Mk., Lk.) explain this in detail. They describe how Jesus boldly but simply testified to the Truth. But all of the Jewish authorities, both religious and secular, were trying to destroy Him. "The chief priests and scribes" in vs. 47 means the religious council, the Sanhedrin. Only Lk. uses the expression "and the chiefs of the people". That must mean the political authorities among the Jews.
11. But God did not permit the Jews to kill Jesus until his hour had come. Vs. 48 tells us that God used the people to protect Jesus. They were fascinated by His teaching. No one forced Jesus to die. Read Jn. 10:17-18. His Father willed that He lay down His life. No one took His life from Him. He laid it down of His own accord. And He took it again of His own accord. He even knew the plans of his enemies long before they made the plans. A year before it happened Jesus knew that Judas would betray Him, Jn. 6:7. In the Garden of Gethsemane He did not run from the enemy. He gave himself up.
12. This text warns us about the terrible danger of unbelief. The unbeliever finally destroys himself. In his madness he despises religion as did the Jews. And in his madness he proves himself to be a coward, not a courageous man. Lord I believe, help my unbelief!
13. Tuesday afternoon of Holy Week, Jesus and His disciples sat on the Mt. of Olives overlooking Jerusalem. There He foretold again the destruction of Jerusalem. See Mt. 24:15-22; Mk. 13:14-20; Lk. 21:20-24. Jesus called it history's most severe judgment. Mt. 24:21.
14. St. Paul also grieved over the apostasy of the Jews. See Rom. 9:1-5 and Rom. 10:1-3.
THEME: He That Believeth Not Shall Be Damned
The attitudes and destruction of the Jews are a stern warning to us. Rom. 15:4 tells us: "Whatever things were written before were written for our learning." We should learn from what was written about the fate of the people under the first covenant.
I. THE ATTITUDES OF THOSE WHO REJECTED JESUS.
A. Jesus says that they did not recognize the things which belong to peace. That means that they rejected the Gospel. When Herod was told that the Messiah was born he did not direct the people to Him. When Jesus preached His first sermon in His home-town the people wanted to kill Him. When He. preformed miracle in Jerusalem, Jn. 5, already then they sought to kill him, Jn. 5:18. This became the story of His life. He came to His own but His own did not want Him. Jn. 1:11 Already at Deut. 32:38-42 the unbelieving attitude of the covenant people is described. They could not enter the promised land because of their unbelief, Heb. 3:7-19. It is true that many were saved. See Heb. 11. But the majority simply would not believe. Vs. 42 of our text summarizes what had been going on for 1500 years. Though the Lord wanted to gather them as a hen gathers her chicks, the Jews killed and stoned the prophets, Mt. 23:37.
B. As a result the Gospel was hidden from them. Vs. 42. This was happening already in Isaiah's day. What was his message to the people who refused to believe? "Go and tell this people: 'Keep on hearing but do not understand; keep on seeing, but do not perceive.' Make the heart of this people dull, and their ears heavy, and shut their eyes." Is. 6. Did God hate His people? No. Why then this message? It was a just punishment on their unbelief. This repeated itself in Jesus' day. Read Jn. 9:39-41. When the Pharisees asked: "We aren't blind too, are we?" He said: "If you were blind (penitent), you would have no sin. But now you say 'We see' (we don't need you), your sin remains." See also Jn. 12:37-50, Jesus' final words. A few of them came to faith but the majority continued in unbelief.
II. THE PUNISHMENT OF THOSE WHO REJECTED JESUS.
A. It was foretold and happened the first time in the OT. Read Is. 29:1-8. This happened when Sennacherib of Assyria invaded Judah (II Kings 18:13-19:36) and also when Nebuchadnezzar, the Babylonian, invaded and destroyed Jerusalem, II Kings 25, and carried the people into captivity, Is. 29:9-24 seems to include also the NT times.
B. It was foretold by Jesus Himself in the NT. This is recorded for us in our text, Lk. 19:41-44; Mt. 24:15-22; Mk. 13:14-20; Lk. 21:20-24. Jesus called it history's most severe judgment. Mt. 24:21. It was more severe than the flood at the time of Noah. It was much more severe than the dropping of the bomb over Hiroshima. It was history's most severe judgment. Why? Because the Covenant people had rejected the Lord and His mercy from the time of Moses until the time of Jesus. That does not mean that Jews cannot be saved. God is still inviting all men, including Jews, to repent and to come to the knowledge of the truth. We know from Rom. 9-11 that, though the Jews rejected Christ, the elect are still found among them. Think for example of Felix Mendelssohn, the great German musician. He was a Jew. He was brought to faith through the religious works of J.S. Bach. The Lord has not rejected His people. It was they who rejected Him.
Since Christ came and took sin away, sin no longer damns. But it is unbelief that damns. "He that believeth not shall be damned." Could it happen to us? It could. It comes to many people gradually, like a slow leak of a tire. It's usually not a blow-out, but a slow leak. Satan pulls people away from the Lord very gradually until it is too late. Let us examine ourselves.