Vol. XI — No. 33 August 16, 1970
And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it, Saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes. For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side, And shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation. And he went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold therein, and them that bought; Saying unto them, It is written, My house is the house of prayer: but ye have made it a den of thieves. And he taught daily in the temple. But the chief priests and the scribes and the chief of the people sought to destroy him, And could not find what they might do: for all the people were very attentive to hear him.
In Christ Jesus, who came to seek and to save that which is lost, Fellow Redeemed:
Three times the sacred Scriptures report that our Savior wept. The first recorded time was at the grave of his friend Lazarus. Sin causes death, and death causes the most painful of all separations that man must experience in his life—being torn away from his loved ones. When Jesus saw the sorrow and grief of Mary and Martha after their brother had been torn from them by death, “he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled.” He asked to see the grave, and then St. John reports: “Jesus wept.” (John 11:33 and 35)
In Gethsemane He fell on His face and prayed in the agony of His soul: “O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.” (Matt 26:39) Once again the consequence of sin confronted Him. That consequence is death. If mankind was to be spared, the Son of God, who is Life itself, had to die. What a traumatic—if we may reverently use the word—experience for the Prince of Life! The writer to the Hebrews reports that in Gethsemane Jesus “offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared.” (Heb. 5:7) Our Lord shed hot tears when brought face to face with the consequences of our sin.
The third reported occasion when He wept occurred a few days before. He had finished His last great day of testifying in the temple. Then He left the city, but when He reached that place on the road up the Mount of Olives where the entire city bursts forth into sight, He sat down to deliver one of his longer addresses, which we know as the Olivet address. But before He spoke, He wept. St. Luke reports: “And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it.”
Why did He weep over Jerusalem? Because He saw the judgment of destruction that would befall the city and its inhabitants because they refused to heed and hearken unto His call to repentance. The consequence of sin is death—sometimes a horrible, agonizing separation of body and soul as occurred during the siege and destruction of Jerusalem—and then the even more horrible beginning of that eternal separation of soul and body from God. Jesus knew what lay ahead of the inhabitants of Jerusalem. The thought of it, the sight of it in His prophetic soul, moved Him to tears. Three times—on different occasions and under varying circumstances Jesus wept—but always the underlying cause was the consequences of man’s sin. Man sins with impunity and scorns or belittles the consequences. But our Lord knows the consequences. He wept in His days here among men—over the consequences of man’s sin.
What should be the message of His weeping over Jerusalem for us—centuries later? Should it not be this?—
Jesus wept over Jerusalem, “saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes.” The day of grace dawned for Jerusalem, but it passed without the majority of the people taking advantage of it. John the Baptist came preaching the baptism of repentance unto the remission of sins. Jesus followed in his steps, proclaiming the same message of repentance for the Kingdom of God was at hand. Wherever Jesus went, whenever He spoke, however He acted, the Kingdom thrust in upon the people. They heard a message spoken with power, revealing that God had come to man to draw man to God, to free man from the tyranny of his sins so that he could be free to serve God and his fellowman. They saw miracles of healing whereby men, women, and children were set free from the consequences of sin in their bodies. They witnessed the reviving of Lazarus from death’s grip. The day of grace had come. Some reacted with an enthusiasm that faded as quickly as it had risen. Some reacted with anger and hatred because He disturbed them in their sins. Some didn’t react at all because sin had paralyzed their wills. When the day of grace comes, but men fail to take advantage of it, it departs. Then “the things which belong unto man’s peace” are hid from man’s eyes. That happened to Jerusalem, and Jesus wept.
Today is the day of grace for us! God’s grace—not man’s enfeebled efforts—is being proclaimed as the answer to the very real problem of your sin. God’s truth—not man’s speculation about God’s truth—is being preached and taught unto you. The obedience of faith—not obedience to ecclesiastical authority or the superior wisdom or insight of some man—is being urged upon you. The Savior from sin and all its ugly consequences—not a political or social reformer—is being held before your eyes. The certain hope of eternal life through Christ Jesus—not Some vague feeling that hopefully all will be right in the world to come—is being brought to you as your comfort in the hour of death. Today is the day of grace for you and me, and for your children and my children. If we fail to take advantage of it, as so many fail to do, we shall lose the blessings of salvation and cause our Savior to weep anew. Take care, lest Jesus weep over us because we fail to take advantage of His day of grace! Take care!
Jesus spoke most solemnly of the judgment that would befall Jerusalem and the nation of the Jews: “For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee in on every side, And shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation.” Forty years later these things came to pass when the Roman armies encircled Jerusalem. Between the civil war that raged within the walls and the pressure exerted by the Romans from without, the siege and final destruction of Jerusalem became one of the most bloody and gory episodes in the history of mankind. Judgment fell upon God’s own privileged covenant people because they had, down through the ages, ignored, belittled, discounted all threats of judgment to come upon them because of their refusal to heed the call to repentance and faith in the Savior, What a tragedy!
We live in a world that discounts divine judgments. When God brings judgment through earthquakes or other violent forces of nature, mankind doesn’t recognize these events as judgments of the Lord. We have been so conditioned by the spiritually dulling effects of scientism that we tend to believe that every judgment that comes through nature is purely natural, governed by the laws of nature, and that God has nothing to do with it. We are also conditioned by the endless propaganda around us that since God is a God of love, He cannot and will not react with anger to man’s sin, and that He cannot and will not condemn anyone to eternal torment in hell. For most people hell is discounted—ruled out. And since they believe that there is no final reckoning of their sin, they continue to sin without being concerned in the least. We are exposed to this kind of thinking on every side and through every medium of communication. We are influenced by hidden persuaders. Let us beware! Let us take heed! For if we begin to discount the judgments of the Lord that He hangs over the heads of all the wicked, we may become confortable in our sins. We may become hardened over against the cry for repentance. If that happens, we would cause our Lord to weep—over us, as He once did over Jerusalem. Take care!
It is solemnly reported unto us that in those last days Jesus “went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold therein, and them that bought; Saying unto them It is written, My house is the house of prayer: but ye have made it a den of thieves.” The temple had been commercialized. The religious leaders were making profits from the sacrifices and worship of the people. Such commercialization in the church is a constant threat to spiritual life. It takes many forms. In some cases people become absorbed with money-making projects to raise funds for the church—instead of opening their hearts and giving themselves and all that they have unto the Lord. In other cases local church property is stolen from the people in a legal manner through an article in the constitution. In still other cases the loyalty of the clergy is purchased with pension plans and other fringe benefits which are doled out to the clergy that remain faithful to the organization even if such faithfulness involves unfaithfulness towards the Lord. So the buying and selling in the temple continues, and the churches are made “dens of thieves.”
But this commercialization can also go on an individual basis a single man with his God. It is quite possible for a person to fall into the temptation to haggle with his God. It’s so easy for us to think that we can balance our accounts with God. It’s so natural for man to think that some future act of obedience will balance out some past disobedience. It’s so natural to think that going to church or Sunday School, placing an offering in the church envelope, or rendering some service to the church will wipe out any debits that the Lord has against us in His ledger. Man is so prone to think this way—to haggle with his God that we may be guilty of this very thing without even being consciously aware of it. That is why it needs to be drawn to our attention. Don’t haggle with you God! Don’t think that you can bribe him with your offerings, your worship, your promises to be good! God does not haggle with man. No, never! God calls us to repentance. He bids us turn from our sin. He does more. He gives us grace to repent and strength to accept His grace of forgiveness. Let us repent, and that daily—lest we cause our Lord to weep over us! Take care—
St. Luke reports, “And he taught daily in the temple. But the chief priests and the scribes and the chief of the people sought to destroy him, And could not find what they might do: for all the people were very attentive to hear him.” Instead of listening, obeying, bowing the knee before Him, the leaders of the people fought against Him. They “sought to destroy Him.” This attitude and this action caused our Lord to weep, because He knew that in seeking to destroy Him they were actually destroying themselves.
The leaders of the people are still doing the same thing—seeking to destroy Him. How so? Our Lord is now glorified. No one can lay their filthy, sweaty hands upon Him, drag Him off in bonds, slap Him, punch Him with their fists, force a crown of thorns upon His head, whip Him to the point of death, or nail Him to the cross. They can’t do this to our Lord personally, but they can and still do it to Him in His Word. Whenever the Word of God is mutilated, whenever man injects his interpretation of the Word into the Scriptures, whenever man adjusts the Word to accommodate the spirit of the age—he is seeking to destroy the Lord in His Word. The leaders of the churches are guilty of this in our day, as they were in Jesus’ day. And the people keep on crying, “Crucify Him, crucify Him,” by their support of their leaders.
Let us obey and not become guilty of fighting against our Lord. Today our Lord is again solemnly assuring us that He is giving us His body and His blood as we eat and drink the bread and wine that He once consecrated the night of His betrayal. We can’t understand how the Lord can be present with us as Host and precious Meal. We can’t understand how He can give us His body, which He once gave for us, and His blood, which He once shed for us. But we aren’t asked to understand that which is beyond our understanding. We are asked to obey by believing the words of our Lord. Let no one fight against the Lord by disbelieving or doubting His word: “This is my body; this is my blood.” We would have the Lord bless us this day, not weep over us! Amen.
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All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the King James Version.