Weep over Sin

Luke 19:41-48
41 And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, 42 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. 43 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 44 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.” 45 And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold, 46 saying to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a den of robbers.” 47 And he was teaching daily in the temple. The chief priests and the scribes and the principal men of the people were seeking to destroy him, 48 but they did not find anything they could do, for all the people were hanging on his words.

Jesus now stands on the very threshold of Jerusalem. His journey from Galilee is complete and Holy Week begins. When Jesus arrives at the City of David, He is moved to tears. There are only two times recorded the Gospels where it is reported that Jesus was moved to tears; this grief over the unbelief of the Jews and when faced with the grief of the family of Lazarus’ upon his death (John 11). His love for His people (us) is so great that He is completely grief stricken over the unbelief that will separate them from Him forever. The Greek tells the whole story.

There is no apodosis or main clause here, and Jesus seems to break off the sentence after the protasis (“If …”) without finishing it. This grammatical feature is called “aposiopesis,” and in Greek literature it is often caused by strong emotion.  Here the emotion is the desire of Jesus for the people’s repentance and salvation—a desire that will not be fulfilled. Jesus’ weeping and this broken-off sentence show his profound anguish as he is about to enter the city he loves in order to die for all, even those who will reject him.

Just, A. A., Jr. (1997). Luke 9:51–24:53 (pp. 740–741). St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House.

Jesus is mirroring the Old Testament prophet Jeremiah who was also moved to weep over the sin and rebelliousness of God’s people for he too knew that would mean God’s wrath upon them. In the tears of Jesus we need to see His utter devotion to us and His willingness that none should perish.

Jeremiah 13:17; 14:17–18

17But if you will not listen, my soul will weep in secret for your pride; my eyes will weep bitterly and run down with tears, because the Lord’s flock has been taken captive. 14:17“You shall say to them this word: ‘Let my eyes run down with tears night and day, and let them not cease, for the virgin daughter of my people is shattered with a great wound, with a very grievous blow. 18If I go out into the field, behold, those pierced by the sword! And if I enter the city, behold, the diseases of famine! For both prophet and priest ply their trade through the land and have no knowledge.’”

After weeping over Jerusalem, Jesus goes immediately to the Temple and once there He takes care of His Father’s business by disrupting and driving away those who have turned this holy place into a largely dishonest marketplace. This was not what God had in mind when He instructed the people in how to build the Temple and to worship Him. So we see Jesus go from weeping to righteous anger. All of this happens in fulfillment of the prophecies of Malachi.

Malachi 3:1–5

1“Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts. But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, and they will bring offerings in righteousness to the Lord. Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the Lord as in the days of old and as in former years. “Then I will draw near to you for judgment. I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, against the adulterers, against those who swear falsely, against those who oppress the hired worker in his wages, the widow and the fatherless, against those who thrust aside the sojourner, and do not fear me, says the Lord of hosts.

The events of Holy Week will now unfold just as the prophets had foretold and Jesus was prepared to fulfill. It is important for us to hold in mind this Jesus whose heart is broken over the sinful rebellion and rejection of the people He loved so dearly and who is incensed over the ability of people to completely forget God in order to make a profit. This is the Jesus we worship and the Jesus who gives up His very life to save us from that rebellion.