Triumph and TearsLuke 19:41-44Theme: Grief.This week’s lessons encourage us to follow Christ’s example in weeping for the lost. LessonWhen I study the events of Easter week in Scripture – Palm Sunday, Good Friday, the Crucifixion, and then Easter Sunday and the Resurrection itself – I am struck by different aspects each time. One thing that has struck me is the presence of tears. Three times in the events of that week we find someone weeping. The first is Jesus, weeping over Jerusalem on Palm Sunday; the second are the women, weeping as Jesus is led away to his crucifixion; and the third is Mary Magdalene, weeping in the garden on the morning of the Resurrection.
In some of these cases people were weeping when they ought not to have been weeping. At other points people were not weeping when they should have been weeping. In yet another case people were weeping when they should have been weeping, but they were weeping for the wrong reasons. When we begin to explore that, we find lessons that strike to the very heart of our need, as sinners, for the Gospel.
The first instance of tears we will look at is Jesus’ weeping over Jerusalem. There are some incongruities in this story. For one thing, this was a scene of triumph, and we don’t usually associate tears with triumph. Jesus was making a spectacular entry into the city of Jerusalem. He had come riding upon a donkey as the Prince of Peace into that city which was the city of peace. Jerusalem itself means “a vision of peace.” And the people had come out of that city praising him and glorifying God, and his followers were rejoicing. The disciples were in ecstasy. Yet the One at the center of all this joy and rejoicing was weeping. It seems incongruous.
It is also strange for another reason. Jesus was not just anyone. Jesus was the Son of God, and as the Son of God – and as one who knew the Old Testament thoroughly and understood it infallibly – he knew what was coming upon the city. He knew what was going to happen to him. He knew that these same people who had come out of the city with their palm branches on Palm Sunday shouting, “Hosanna! Praise to him who comes in the name of the Lord,” would within a few days be shouting, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” These people were going to call for his death. His death was going to be a death by crucifixion. He was going to suffer for our sins. Yet with all of this in mind – knowing how he would be treated by these very people – we find him weeping over the city and the destruction that was going to come upon it.
Now, obviously a situation like that teaches us a great deal about Christ. It also teaches us about ourselves, and about becoming like the Lord Jesus Christ in this world. What does this scene of Jesus weeping over Jerusalem tell us about him? For one thing, it tells us that he was truly human. That is, he was a real man. He felt as we feel. He grieved as we grieve. He was, as Isaiah wrote, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, as we often are.
What do Jesus’ tears teach us about him?
What is the meaning of “Jerusalem”?
Why do Jesus’ tears seem out of place on this particular occasion?
Further StudyCarefully read the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem. What unique points are made by each of the Gospel writers? Note particular points of emphasis in each account: Matthew 21:1-9; Mark 11:1-10; Luke 19:28-44; John 12:12-15.