“As [Jesus] approached
and saw the city, he wept over it
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.’” – Luke 19:41-42 Jerusalem
Last Sunday hundreds of millions of Christians around the world celebrated Palm Sunday, the day when Jesus Christ mounted a young donkey, crested the Mount of Olives and descended into
Jerusalem. A crowd numbering in
the hundreds—possibly even in the thousands—surrounded Jesus and shouted, “Hosanna!” which translates, “Save us
now.” And they added, “Blessed is the
king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the
highest!” (Luke 19:38). The crowds waved palm branches and placed their
cloaks on the dirt road in front of Jesus.
But why did they do it? Why did the crowd make such a big fuss about Jesus? For starters, they did it because they had heard first-hand accounts of Jesus’ breathtaking miracles (Luke 19:37; John 12:17-18). They had heard the account of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead, while others had been told of how Jesus opened the eyes of the blind, drove out demons, and cleansed lepers. There’s no doubt about it: The crowd was celebrating the “miracle man” and hoped that he was the promised Messiah sent to deliver the greatest miracle of all—freeing Israel from their Roman oppressors.
But obviously Jesus’ purpose in coming to earth was much more important than working miracles. And delivering the Jews from the
Empire was nowhere on his God-ordained to-do list. Jesus’ purpose
was primarily spiritual, not physical; his intention was to usher in peace with
God, not war with Rome. Yet as Jesus made his
way down the Mount of Olives on his little
donkey, he seems to have been the only one on the hillside who understood this
Surprisingly, as the crowd of enthusiastic worshipers cheered wildly, Jesus wept subtly (Luke 19:41). He was weeping over
Jerusalem. And as
he wept he spoke prophetically about what would happen just forty years later.
In his mind’s eye he could see decades in advance what we are only able to see
through historical hindsight. In the year 70 A.D., the Roman army surrounded
the walls of Jerusalem and proceeded to do exactly what Jesus prophesied they would
do. The Romans built siegeworks to scale the city walls. And upon entering the
city, they leveled the temple and slaughtered tens of thousands of Jewish men,
women and children.
So, as Jesus looked across the
below, he saw what was, and he saw
what would be. And it broke his heart.
He loved the people of Israel, and their
impending destruction brought tears to his eyes, especially because he realized
it was 100% preventable. Rome’s coming
destruction would be an act of divine judgment, not ushered in because of Israel’s rejection of Rome’s authority but because of their rejection of Christ’s authority. What Israel
needed most of all wasn’t war with Rome but
peace with God. And Jesus alone could usher in that peace. But sadly, those in
the crowd who yelled “Hosanna!” on Sunday were likely some of the same ones who
yelled “Crucify him!” on Friday.
As Good Friday has passed and we celebrate Resurrection Sunday (aka, Easter), I’d like you to consider the powerful words about peace that Jesus spoke as he wept over Jerusalem on Palm Sunday: “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes” (Luke 19:42). Tragically, the people of
Israel were so consumed by their
hatred of Rome that they were blinded to their
desperate need of reconciliation and peace with God, which Jesus Christ alone
And the same is true of many people today. It’s easy to become so consumed by our battles with people that we are blinded to our need for peace with God. Sometimes we are consumed by bitterness. We are filled with thoughts of vengeance. It’s far too common for Christians to say, “I love you, Lord!” on Sunday and, “I hate my boss!” or ”I hate my ex-husband!” on Monday. My friends, this should not be. If you were able to see your life through God’s eyes, you would see that your resentment toward your spouse, kids or neighbor is driving a wedge between you and God. If you were able to see your life as God sees it, you would see that what you most need is not retaliation against your friend or family member who “stabbed you in the back,” but peace with God.
So as Easter comes and you join hundreds of millions of Christians around the world in celebration of your risen Savior, don’t be a shallow, short-sighted worshiper like those who surrounded Jesus on Palm Sunday. Push aside your resentment toward others. Forgive those who don’t deserve to be forgiven. Make peace with those with whom you need to make peace. And open your eyes to the Prince of Peace whom you celebrate. He can certainly bring peace to your broken relationships. And his specialty is bringing peace to your broken relationship with God.
Dane Davis is the Lead Pastor of First Christian Church in Victorville. For more information, visit www.YourVictorvilleChurch.com and join us Sundays at 10 a.m.