Now if you want to go back in your Bibles to the nineteenth chapter of Luke, which I read a little earlier, you’ll be in the setting for our look at “The Lowly Coronation of the High King of Heaven.” The text that I read, if you were listening, you noticed that it is really full of irony, full of stunning contrasts. You have the commendation of Jesus by the people, and then you have the condemnation of the people by Jesus. This has to be the most unique and unparalleled coronation ever. On the one hand, it is large and enthusiastic, full of acclamation and admiration, generated by the people’s joyous hope over their arriving Messiah. For the moment, it seemed as if Jesus might be that Messiah, and that imminent victory over all their enemies was to come; and in anticipation of that and the glories of that triumphant, the arrival of the kingdom of God, they were literally exhilarated.
On the other hand, we see the shallowness of that exhilaration and we see the superficiality of it. We see the hypocrisy of it because it all ends in a pronunciation of destruction. Rather than doom falling on their enemies and the arrival of Messiah bringing about victory, doom will fall on them brought about by that very Messiah. Instead of seeing the glories of conquests, they will experience the agonies of being conquered. Instead of experiencing the blessing of God, they are about to experience the judgment of God.
So the contrast between the attitude and words of the people and of Jesus is stark. They, after seeing His miracles, have the best in mind. It’s time for the kingdom, it’s time for exaltation. He, after seeing their unbelief, has the worst in mind. It’s time for devastation, not exaltation. They expect a conquering hero, instead they get a condemning judge. Has there ever been such a coronation as this where at the very event, the king being offered throne refuses the throne and turns on the people who offered it and pronounces destruction? I don’t think there’s ever been a coronation like that, but that is exactly the case in this lowly coronation of the High King of heaven.
It had been some weeks since Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. Having done that in Bethany, He then went to Galilee, spent a few weeks in Galilee, and then returned toward Jerusalem for Passover. As He came south from Galilee, crossed the Jordan to the east side into Peraea, went down south in Peraea, then again crossed the Jordan north of Jericho. He came into Jericho; we know that when He was in Jericho He healed two blind beggars, brought them salvation, and also brought salvation to a very famous man of short stature by the name of Zacchaeus who was a tax collector.
After those unique encounters in Jericho, He would then proceed up to Jerusalem. It’s about 17 miles up, up from below sea level , in Jericho up about 4,000 feet to the city of Jerusalem. He would have walked that very well-guarded Roman road not alone, but with a rather large congregation of people who had accumulated, because they too were headed to the Passover – an ever-expanding crowd of travelers. So there were people waiting in the city for the Passover. There was a crowd, you could say, then in front of Him, and there was a crowd along with and behind Him as well.
John 12:1 says He arrived in Bethany, which is two miles east of Jerusalem. “He arrived in Bethany six days before Passover.” That would be before sunset on Saturday, and that Saturday He was invited to a meal in His honor. Matthew describes that meal, as does Mark. Only six days now until the cross. Only six days until the nails, the thorns, the mockery, the spit, the hate, the sin-bearing. Only six days until the God-forsaken experience of crucifixion as He becomes the sacrifice for sin.
During those early days upon His arrival He sought fellowship. It was really the last time of fellowship before He began to engage the city when He once entered it. But for a little bit of time He is with His disciples, and He’s with His friends – Mary, Martha, sisters of Lazarus who He had raised from the dead. But it wasn’t the purest of fellowship because Judas was there, and He was well aware of what Judas was about to do. The next day was Sunday, and He stayed in Bethany as best we can tell, and the people came out to see Him. According to John chapter 12, they heard that He was in Bethany, they knew that He had raised Lazarus from the dead, and they came out to see this miracle worker, this One who raised dead people. It was Monday actually that He entered Jerusalem. We celebrate it as Palm Sunday, but it’s most likely a Monday; and that’s where we find Him in the text of Luke 19 and the other comparative gospel accounts.
In all the coronations ever held in the history of the world, there has never been a monarch so supreme, so exalted, so pure, so powerful, so glorious, so sovereign, and so worthy as Jesus Christ. No one comes close, nor do all of them collectively even touch the hem of His infinite glory. Even though He is the most glorious person ever to receive a coronation, it is the lowliest and it is the most superficial and hypocritical of all coronations.
He proceeds from Bethany on that Monday up the mountain to Jerusalem. He knows what’s ahead of Him, a week of immense and intense conflict. It starts eventually with the cleansing of the temple, which He tears into the false religion of Judaism. Rather than attacking their enemies, He attacks them. And then the conflict with the leaders of Israel day after day after day, until finally a false trial and His crucifixion on Friday. He heads up the mountain to death. It’s just two miles really from Bethany, but it’s the end of a long journey from heaven to earth, through years and years of living in this sin-cursed world: three years of ministry, many trips to Jerusalem, many Passovers. This is the last one. He heads to the death for which He took life, a ransoming, redeeming, reconciling death, a death that ratifies the new covenant, forgiveness through grace, a death that provides full atonement for the sins of His people, a death that will conquer death. It will be the death of death, a death that provides forgiveness of sin and eternal heaven for all who believe. Before He comes to reign, He must come to die and rise.
Now it’s important to note that up until this point, Jesus had never allowed an open public demonstration declaring Him as Messiah. He’d never done that. In fact, when you read the Gospels you know that He sought to remove Himself when things started in that direction. This is the first time in His life He let that open public demonstration declaring Him as Messiah take place. This is the only occasion.
And why now? Why now? It was designed to inflame His enemies, to inflame them more than anything else would inflame them, so that they would move rapidly to take His life. He knew that the plan of God was that He would die as the Lamb of God and that He would die the following Friday at the very time when sacrificial lambs were being slain. He would die as God’s chosen Lamb, dying for the sins of His people. He had to create an event which would so infuriate His enemies that they would move swiftly to get Him to the cross, thinking they were operating on their own timetable, but in reality, they were working out the plan of God to the very moment. He wanted the public display. He wanted the greatest possible exposure to the largest crowd to threaten the Jewish leaders who were His enemies and cause them to hurry and seek His death because He needed to be on the cross on Friday.
Tens of thousands of people were in Jerusalem at the Passover. Ten years later, we have a record that 260,000 lambs were slain at one Passover ten years later – 260,000 lambs were slain. A lamb could be slain for a whole family. Multiplying that number would give you a massive amount of people crowding into Jerusalem. This was staged to infuriate His enemies. He was at the right place at the right time, right on the divine plan; and He was at the end of the journey, the journey He began in heaven, as I said earlier, but a journey that Luke tells us He actually began in chapter 9, verse 51, when He set His eyes toward Jerusalem and began to move in that direction. This was the last journey of His life, and this was the end of the journey of His incarnation. He is finally headed to Jerusalem. His arrival creates this massive event.
I want us to look at Luke 19 and I want us to see three things, three things that basically affirm that He is the Messiah. One has to do with His anticipation of the event, the other has to do with the adoration that He received, and the final one has to do with His adjudication that fell on the heads of the people. We see that He is God the Son, the Messiah, because He is omniscient, because He is fulfilling prophecy. We see that He is legitimately God the Messiah because He receives adoration and worship intended only for that person. And we see again that He is God the Messiah, Son of God, because He is the Judge who brings about final judgment.
In these three, we also see the committed people, we then see the curious, and we see the contrary. We see the disciples, we see the crowd, and we see the Pharisees. We see the true followers of Jesus, we see the false followers of Jesus, and we see the rejectors of Jesus. So let’s think, first of all, about the anticipation. Back to verse 28 of Luke 19.
“After He had said these things, He was going on ahead, going up to Jerusalem.” “After He had said these things,” referring to a parable that He told, a prior parable which did illustrate the very experience that He has in this coronation. He finished the parable and He set Himself toward Jerusalem.
“When He approached Bethphage and Bethany, near the mount that is called Olivet, He sent two of His disciples.” Now just to stop for a moment, as I said, it’s about a 4,000-foot walk from Jericho up there; but He’s been in Bethany which is just a couple of miles to the east. But Bethany is down the back slope of the mountains, so from Bethany you don’t really see the full glory of the city of Jerusalem. He comes those final miles not as a conqueror on a white horse, but as we will see, He comes as a lowly sacrifice on a donkey’s colt.
These two little towns, Bethphage – it’s the only mention of this village in connection with His triumphal entry. And Bethany means house of dates. So this, it reflects the agrarian character of that area. And it’s stated that both of them are near Olivet, or the Mount of Olives, which is directly east of the temple ground on the east side of Jerusalem.
There’s a mountain range that runs north and south, east of Jerusalem, and that mountain range has three mountains. One is Mount Scopus about 2,640 feet high, then there’s the Mount of Corruption, the Mount of Corruption. The northernmost mountain is Scopus, the southernmost mountain in that little range is the Mount of Corruption. That comes from 2 Kings. It’s called the Mount of Corruption because there the Israelites set up idols, lots of idols: Astaroth, Chemosh, and even the worship of Baal. That’s how it came to be known as the Mount of Corruption. But in the middle is the Mount of Olives. The city can’t be seen until you summit the Mount of Olives, and then it appears below you.
And so as He came approaching Bethphage and Bethany, He had not yet seen the city, nor had the people in the city seen Him. “So He sent two of His disciples, saying, ‘Go into the village ahead of you; there, as you enter, you will find a colt tied on which no one yet has ever sat; untie it and bring it here.’” He is slowing down His trip at Bethany. He sends them to Bethphage, very nearby, with a specific purpose in mind: to demonstrate His omniscience and to fulfill prophecy.
He says in verse 30, “Go into the village opposite you,” likely Bethphage. “You’ll find a colt tied there.” How does He know that? Because He is omniscient. He knows that. Matthew says, “Immediately you will find a donkey.” He knows that. He knows that this is a donkey’s colt; the mother of that colt will be there as well.
He also knows that this is a colt which no one yet has ever sat on. “Untie it.” In one way or another He says, “Untie it,” five times. This animal was reserved for the Messiah, never ridden by anyone else. “When you untie it” – end of verse 30 – “bring it here. If someone asks you,” – verse 31 – “says, ‘Why are you untying it?’ you shall say, ‘The Lord has need of it.’” He wasn’t stealing it, He was only borrowing it for the day.
How is it that the people so easily gave up the animal? It’s pretty clear that they knew who the rider was going to be. There’s no explanation in verse 31 other than, “The Lord has need of it.” They must have known who the Lord was. But why this? Verse 32, “So those who were sent away went and found it just as He had told them.” Here’s the first demonstration of the deity of the Son of God: His omniscience. He knew details that were not visible to anyone in His presence.
You remember back in the other parts of the gospel record, John chapter 1, He saw Nathanael with His omniscience before He ever saw him with his eyes. In John chapter 2, nobody needed to tell Him what in the heart of man because He knew what was in the heart of man. In Matthew chapter 17, He told the disciples to go throw their fishing line into the water and they would catch a fish, and they would pull the fish in, and in that fish’s mouth would be coins to pay their taxes. In Luke 22, when it’s time for the Passover meal to take place, He tells them they’ll know exactly where the place for the Passover is to be held because they will find a man carrying water. That was women’s duties normally. But they will find a man carrying water, and if they follow him, he will take them to the place of the Passover meal. A number of indications in His life and in the gospel accounts of His omniscience.
But there’s more here than just His omniscience. Verse 35, “They brought this animal to Jesus, and they threw their coats on the colt and put Jesus on it. And as He was going, they were spreading their coats on the road.” It’s really an amazing display. They untie the colt, they get permission to take the colt, they tell the owner, “The Lord has need of it,” it’s temporary. They brought it to Jesus back in Bethany. They threw their garments on the colt and put Jesus on it. And by the way, that’s a connection with the royal line. If you go back into 1 Kings chapter 1, both David and Solomon rode a royal mule, Solomon even in his coronation, according to 1 Kings chapter 1.
Our Lord had a reason to ride a donkey, a donkey’s colt, not necessarily to associate with David and Solomon; there’s something far more significant than that. Back in Matthew chapter 21, in Matthew’s account of this same event, we read this: “This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet,” – and here’s what was spoken through the prophet – ‘Say to the daughter of Zion, “Behold your King is coming to you, gentle, and mounted on a donkey, even on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.”’” That’s Zechariah 9:9.
Zechariah prophesied that when the Messiah came, the King, He would come gentle, mounted on a donkey, and not just a donkey, but the colt, the foal of a donkey. He doesn’t even ride a royal mule, but a donkey’s colt, far from what people would have expected for the King. Zechariah the prophet had prophesied and predicted that 500 years before, that the people would hail Him as their King riding on a donkey’s colt. Even the disciples were honestly baffled by this, and at the time it was going on, didn’t understand.
In the twelfth chapter of John’s gospel and verse 16, it says this: “These things,” – speaking of Him riding on that animal – “these things His disciples did not understand at the first; but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things were written of Him, and that they had done these things to Him.” Why didn’t they understand that He would ride the donkey’s colt? Why didn’t they understand that he would fulfill Zechariah 9:9? Answer: because their own messianic theology had Him coming to reign, coming to conquer. They would have assumed that He would come on a white horse. He will the next time, and that’s clearly designed to be revealed to us in Revelation chapter 19.
So as we look at just the preparation events, just the anticipation events, we see the divinity of our Lord, we see the exact precise fulfillment of prophecy laid down specifically in the Old Testament. This is the true Messiah. We see it in His omniscience, we see it in the fulfillment of prophecy. So all that anticipation leads us to the conviction that this is truly the Messiah.
There’s a second feature in this text. We go from anticipation to adoration, and that is exactly what happened. Down to verse 36: “As He was going, they were spreading their coats on the road.” People began to throw their coats on the road so that the animal would be walking on their coats. “As soon as He was approaching, near the descent of the Mount of Olives,” – you go over the top of the Mount of Olives, and once you crown that and come down the other side, you can see the temple mount and the city of Jerusalem. “As He was approaching, near the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the miracles which they had seen, shouting: ‘Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord; peace in heaven and glory in the highest!’”
You go back into 2 Kings chapter 9 and you see an illustration of the ancient custom of throwing your coats down in front of a monarch. That was done as a way to express honor and submission. You were saying, “I lay down my coat as an act of sort of symbolic submission as I would lay down my life beneath your feet as my king.” It says essentially, “We place ourselves under your feet. We place ourselves in submission to You.” This is the Jewish version of, “Long live the king!”
In spite of what our Lord had said, the idea of the kingdom coming captured everybody. The King was there, the kingdom must follow, and the fever pitch began to escalate. He will be their King. He will bring the fulfillment of all the promises made to Abraham and to David and to the prophets. He will conquer our enemies. He will establish Jerusalem and a kingdom from Jerusalem that will cover the world. That was their anticipation. That is why verse 37 says, “The whole crowd of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice.”
They’d never had a moment like this in their history. They’d been waiting for centuries for the arrival of Messiah. The road from Jericho peaks at the Mount of Olives, the city comes into view. The crowd is ready for Jesus to arrive, the crowd is in front of Him and behind Him. The whole crowd is joyful. And what was it that convinced them? “For all the miracles which they had seen.” That is a summation of His entire life ministry.
In fact, John ends His gospel by saying this: “There are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they were written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books that would be written.” John in his gospel lays out miracle after miracle, after miracle, after miracle, and then sums it up by saying, “These are only samples of a plethora of miracles that He did that the books of the world couldn’t even contain.”
The people had seen all of that, He did those publicly. And now all these pilgrims from Galilee where, of course, He had His main ministry had come down and gathered along with the people of Jerusalem. This is an open confession on their part of the validity of His miracles. They never questioned the legitimacy of His miracles. The crowd is swelling. And listen: what they say, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord; peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” hasn’t been heard since Luke 2 when it was said by the angels who announced His birth. They gave Him the worship and the honor the angels called for but He never received, until this. As we will find out, it was very superficial and fickle, and when He didn’t do what they wanted Him to do, they turned on Him with such fury that it wasn’t long until they were screaming, “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” And that’s exactly what they did.
But at this point, their hopes are high and they’re shouting, verse 38, they’re shouting, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord.” This is the Lord’s King. This is Yahweh’s King, the promised King, Priest, Prophet. This is now the hour of peace in heaven and glory in the highest. Matthew adds, “Most of the multitudes spread their garments on the road, and others were cutting branches from the trees, spreading them on the road.” John chapter 12, verse 13 says that their particular branch was from a palm tree: palm branches. Palm branches in Jewish history have been symbolic of salvation, symbolic of joy. Matthew also indicates that the crowd was divided into those in front of Him and those behind Him, so that He was crushed in the middle. And the crowd was growing in its kind of fire for the moment, so much so that it says in John 11 that the chief priests and Pharisees who had given orders to anyone who knew where Jesus was that he should report it, that they might seize Him.
John gives us fair warning that when this happens, the Pharisees and the leaders of Israel will not be happy. The frenzy of the crowd escalates the fury of the Jewish leaders. As one voice, all of them saying, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord.” Matthew adds that they said, “Hosanna to the Son of David.” Hosanna is an exclamatory phrase: “Save now! Save now! Deliver us now!” They had an earthly deliverance in mind, but He had come to provide a spiritual deliverance, not to conquer Rome, but to conquer sin and death and reconcile sinners to God. They said Son of David, the most common messianic title. They were really echoing the Psalm. In particular, they were echoing Psalm 118. You might want to look at it if you have your Bible.
Psalm 118 and verse 22, we read this: “The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief corner stone.” Of course, that refers to Christ. “This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day which the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. O Lord, do save,” – that’s hosanna – “we beseech You; O Lord, we beseech You, do send prosperity! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord; we have blessed you from the house of the Lord. Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.” That’s called a psalm of salvation, by the way; sometimes called the conqueror’s psalm. A hundred years before this, it was used to hail one of the Maccabees because he had defeated the Syrians.
So in this case it’s applied to Jesus. They cry from Psalm 118:26, worshiping the Messiah who has come in the name of the Lord, which means they say that He bears full approval and authority from Yahweh. It’s a psalm, some call it a psalm of enthronement. The atmosphere is super-charged, electric, with excitement: “Peace in heaven, glory in the highest.” That sounds like Luke 2:14, almost what the angel said verbatim. This is the moment when God is at peace with man. God has decided to end all the hostility against His people and bring peace. Mark 11:10 adds that some of them were saying, “Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David. Hosanna in the highest; save now in the highest!” All of that, of course, was loaded with anticipation for a physical deliverance. But He hadn’t come to deliver them physically, He had come to deliver them spiritually. This escalated a moment, was more than His enemies could handle.
Verse 39: “Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Him, ‘Teacher, rebuke Your disciples.’” By the way, that’s the last reference to the Pharisees in the gospel of Luke, that’s the last we hear from them. They called to Jesus to stop the accolades: “Stop all this praise and adoration.” They view it as blasphemy. They are outraged at messianic honor being given to their archenemy whom they had long wanted dead. They can’t quiet the crowd, they know that, it’s too messy. The only reasonable path is to ask the one who has the crowd’s attention to stop the blasphemy, to silence the disciples, who were obviously engaged in the adoration legitimately.
They hated Jesus, and their hatred now reached a terrifying fever pitch, which sets up the final section: the adjudication. And we see His glory even in this, verse 40, “But Jesus answered, ‘I tell you, if these become silent, the stones will cry out!’ When he approached Jerusalem, He saw the city and wept over it, saying, ‘If you had known in this day, even you, the things which make for peace! But now they have been hidden from our eyes. For the days will come upon you when our enemies will throw up a barricade against you, and surround you and hem you in on every side. They will level you to the ground and your children within you, and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not recognize the time of your visitation.’”
He is the Messiah. He is the Son of God. He is the Christ. He is the one who is omniscient, who knows everything, even those things which are not perceptible by human means. He is the one who fulfills Old Testament prophecy specifically. He is the exalted One who should receive honor and worship. But He is also the sovereign Judge.
John introduces us to that reality in the fifth chapter of John’s gospel, verse 22: “For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son, so that all will honor the Son even as they honor the Father. He who doesn’t honor the Son doesn’t honor the Father who sent Him. Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.
“Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of god, and those who hear will live. For just as the Father has life in Himself, even so He gave to the Son also to have life in Himself; and He gave Him authority to execute judgment, because He is the Son of Man. Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice, and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment.” He is the one who will have final judgment. But He is also the one who will render judgment in this occasion.
The scene moves immediately from joy to horror, from the highest to the lowest. They are all saying, “Peace in heaven, glory in the highest.” He cries, “Destruction.” They pronounce on Him glory, He pronounces on them judgment. The ending is stunning, it is shocking, it is tragic.
As I said, for the first time in His entire life, He has allowed public declaration and adoration for Him as the Messiah, of which He is worthy; and all the praise they could give would not be enough. He will not silence them. Soon enough that fickle crowd will scream, “Crucify Him! Crucify Him! We will not have this man to reign over us.”
So Jesus in verse 40 says, “I tell you, if these become silent, the stones will cry out!” This is what will happen. This is a statement of reality. The very ones who are loudly praising Him will stop, and they will fall silent, and it will happen very soon, early in the week, if not the next day; and then the stones will scream.
What in the world does that mean? The opposition to Jesus will become so strong not only in the part of the leaders, but the people as well. The persecution will become so fierce that confession of Jesus will be like a death wish. Jerusalem will grow silent. After this day we don’t hear any praise coming out of these crowds at the Passover. And even after He rose from the dead, we don’t hear any praise offered to Him. And when they all go silent, the stones will cry out.
What is He talking about? Let’s follow the text. “When He approached Jerusalem, He saw the city and wept over it.” The crowd is shouting hallelujahs in sheer joy; He’s weeping, overwhelmed with sorrow. The contrasts, as I said, are stark. It is clear and settled that the leaders of the nation will persist in their rejection that the celebration of the people will be fickle and brief. He knows what is coming and it’s coming fast. They will fall silent from their false worship; and so He wept.
It’s not the same Greek word as used in John 11:35, “Jesus wept at the grave of Lazarus.” It’s a much stronger word. It would be translated, “He was heaving. He was sobbing. His body was moving in agonized impulses of gripping sorrow – the strongest possible word for “grief” in the Greek language. He is literally racked to the base of His being in the face of the superficiality of their praise and their soon coming rejection and the consequent results of it, which He Himself will bring upon them.
Verse 42, saying, “If you had known in this day, even you, the things which make for peace! You’re talking about peace, you don’t know the things that make for peace. Now they have been hidden from your eyes.” That is a terrifying statement. “You had your opportunity, now you don’t. There was a time for you to see and believe, now it’s not possible. The stones are going to cry out.”
What do You mean? “For the days will come upon you when your enemies will throw up a barricade against you, and surround you and hem you in on every side, and they will level you to the ground and your children within you, and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you didn’t recognize the time of your visitation.” When the judgment comes it’s going to leave nothing but rubble, nothing but rubble. Only God knows the future. Only God designs the future, and Christ is the one who will actually bring the judgment.
Why is He so sad? Because they had the opportunity for peace with God if they had received Him. They had the opportunity, as it closes out in verse 44, “to recognize the time of your visitation when heaven came down in the incarnation of the Son of God.” Judgment is coming.
“If you had only known. If you had only known. If you had only known in this day.” “What do You mean, ‘This day’?” The time of His presence, the day of His presence. “If you only knew, if you only believed, you would have understood what makes for peace with God.” That’s salvation language, by the way, the gospel of peace with God through the Lord Jesus Christ. The peace He’s referring to has no connection to earthly conditions with Rome or Jewish leadership. It’s the personal peace of being reconciled to God. They had made their choice already when it came to the Lord.
Back in Luke chapter 13, verse 33, “I must journey on” – He said – “today and tomorrow and the next day; for it cannot be that a prophet would perish outside of Jerusalem.” And then He said this: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, just as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not have it! Behold, your house is left to you desolate; and I say to you, you will not see Me until the time comes when you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’”
Well, that pronouncing judgment on Jerusalem maybe was cancelled because that’s exactly what they said, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.” Did that expression of faith validate the kind of faith that would put aside the judgment promise? Hardly. This was so superficial, as evidenced by the fact that they screamed for His blood. “You had your opportunity for peace, now judgment will come; it’s hidden from your eyes for now. You would not believe, and now you cannot believe.” There was only a small remnant – right? – in the upper room, as the nation continued its stubborn rejection. And then the result will be judgment.
What does the judgment refer to in verses 43 and 44? It is the judgment of the destruction of Jerusalem and its temple. “For the days will come upon you,” often used, by the way, in the Old Testament as an expression of judgment. Isaiah used it, Hosea used it, Amos used it, others. It is a declaration of judgment. Jesus said it, I just read it to you back in the thirteenth chapter. But here He lays out this judgment.
“Your enemies will throw up a barricade against you.” This is a palisade, a high barrier to seal off the city so no one can come in or go out. This literally starves a city to death. According to Josephus, this is exactly what the Romans did. “And surround you laying siege so that no one can go in or out.” The city is sealed off. No supplies can enter the city. Anyone who tries to escape after you’ve been hemmed in will be killed. Thousands on the inside will starve to death.
That’s exactly what happened at the siege of the city of Jerusalem in 70 AD. The Jews revolted against Rome in 66, and that led to the Roman siege; and by 70 AD, tens of thousands of Jews died, starved to death, under the Roman siege, “hemming them in on every side.” And once the Romans broke through, verse 44, “They level you to the ground.” Edaphizō is a verb that means to shatter against the ground, to smash. The city will be smashed. That’s exactly what the Romans did, and when they came to the temple, of course, they threw the stones down, they unpiled the stones, flattened it out.
Who are the stones that will cry out? These are the stones: the stones that cry out is not some kind of euphemistic statement, there were actual stones that were tribute to divine judgment, the rubble of the temple, the rubble of Jerusalem screams the truth of Israel’s unbelief and rejection of Messiah. It was all so superficial on that Monday.
“You and your children within you.” After five months of siege, the Romans overpowered the weakened Jews unable to defend Jerusalem. The Roman soldiers rampaged through Jerusalem slaughtering everyone in sight. The strongest young men they captured for Gladiators. They destroyed the city, everything except the Western Wailing Wall. Tens of thousands of people died.
They proceeded to leave the city, go through the land of Israel and basically devastate 985 towns and villages by slaughtering their inhabitants. “And the destruction will be so total that they will not leave one stone on another. Total destruction. Divine judgment. Why? “Because you didn’t recognize the time of your visitation,” visitation: episkopēs, the visit of the incarnate God, the visit of the Son of God. “Day of visitation,” by the way, is an Old Testament phrase referring to the coming of God is drawing near to His people; and it can be for blessing, but it also can be for judgment. “He came for blessing, you rejected Him, and so He brings judgment.” Those who don’t believe will be visited by the Lord in judgment.
Who is this Jesus? Is He the Messiah? Well, He was omniscient. He knew things that were not knowable with human senses, He fulfilled prophecy to the very letter, He received worship and adoration, and He predicted and pronounced judgment; and that judgment came. The visitation of God comes either in salvation or condemnation. It comes one way or another. Every one of us will experience the visitation of God. God will show up in your life for salvation now and forever or for judgment in the future and forever.
Jesus visited the land of Israel in that century; but since that time, by the pages of Holy Scripture, He has continued to visit every generation, and every generation has the same responsibility to acknowledge Him as the one who has come from God as our Savior and Redeemer, and who will come in the future back as our King. And if you acknowledge Him as Christ the Lord, trust Him as your Savior, you have received the visitation of God for salvation. If you reject Him, you will have a visitation from God, but it will be for judgment, and the one who came to offer Himself as your Savior will Himself become your Judge. This is the great reality of divine truth as it relates in its most form to every human being. You will have a visitation from God, either for salvation or condemnation, either to receive the gift of eternal life through the forgiveness of sin by faith in Christ or to receive the sentence of eternal punishment because you rejected Christ.
There are plenty of people in our society today who have a kind of sentimental interest in Jesus, maybe much like this crowd. We even might think of Him as a miracle worker but who do not come to Him as Lord and Savior. They may, like the crowd, pretend to throw their robes under His feet at submit, but at the end of the day when He doesn’t deliver to them what they want, immediately they turn from Him to be visited again; but that final visit will be in judgment. You have a moment with God coming, every one of you, either for salvation, eternal bliss and joy, or condemnation, eternal punishment and sorrow. If you understand this day and the opportunity that is yours, commit your life to the Lord Jesus Christ. Let’s pray.
Our Father, we again are grateful for the clear truth that comes out of Your word. We are grateful for the glorious presentation of our Redeemer Jesus Christ, the only hope of salvation. Do that mighty miracle in hearts, Lord. May they be visited by You for salvation and never for condemnation. May Your grace abound in hearts even this day, we pray for the sake of Christ. Amen.
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