Tuesday: When He Saw the City, He Wept

Tuesday: When He Saw the City, He Wept

Written on 04/16/2019
James Boice

By James Boice

Theme: When Jesus Wept for a City

In this week’s lessons, we look at a moving event in the life of Jesus just before his arrest and crucifixion, when he weeps for the city of Jerusalem over its rejection of Him.

Scripture: Luke 19:41, 42

There are two surprises in this triumphal entry into Jerusalem. The first, which I've just described, is the surprise the disciples had. They expected Jesus to be rejoicing; instead, they find Him crying. But there's another surprise as well, one that is more obvious to us because of the position we occupy in history. We know what happened that week. We know that the cries of acclamation of Palm Sunday very quickly turned into cries for crucifixion. These same people goaded on by the leaders would call out, "Crucify Him! Crucify Him!" We know that Jesus was going in to die. We know He knew that, and so it doesn't surprise us in view of this that He should be crying. The surprise we have is this: Jesus is not crying for Himself. You would expect Him to be saying, "Oh, what a terrible end awaits me in the city. How horrible it's going to be." Actually, His mind is not upon Himself at all. Jesus is thinking about the city, and He's weeping for that. He's crying for the very people who are going to call out for His crucifixion, and He's weeping for the very city, outside of whose walls just a few days later He is going to die.

Well, surprising, yes, but not surprising, at least when we think about all that's involved. You see, this scene of Jesus' weeping over Jerusalem is just a small picture that shows us the heart of our Lord towards the world, in general, and the relationship that He has to it. Think of the things that teach us about ourselves and about the nature of Jesus Christ.

The first and obvious thing is that we are precious to Him. The city was precious to Jesus. That's why He wept over it. You don't weep over something that's not precious. The Bible's way of talking about the value of men and women is to say that we're made in the image of God, and that sets people off from the rest of the created order. God made it all, of course. He made the seas, the land, the animals, the quasars, the stars, and everything else. He made it all. But it doesn't have the same value as men and women do. Why? Because men and women are made in His image.

It stresses that in the very first chapter of the Bible, three times over in speaking of the creation of the man and the woman. There are many things involved in our being created in the image of God, but chief among them is that we are persons, as God is a person, and we are made for communion with Him. One of the marks of being a person is the ability and the desire to know and interact with others. And since we are persons made in the image of God, it's our privilege and joy to interact with Him. That's what makes us so valuable. When Jesus wept over the city of Jerusalem, He was dramatizing the fact.

The second thing Jesus' weeping over Jerusalem teaches us is that we do not know God. You see, it wouldn't be a cause for weeping just to be able to say that we're made in God's image. We could be made in God's image and remain in fellowship with Him, and that wouldn't be a cause for weeping at all. It would be a cause for rejoicing. Here Jesus is weeping, and the reason He's weeping is that those who are made in God's image for fellowship with Him do not know God. In fact, they're in rebellion against God, and so they're forfeiting the blessings which would follow upon that first and proper relationship.

Psalm 8 describes men and women as being made a little lower than the heavenly beings. It's a wonderful psalm because it puts men and women at a unique place in the created order. It says we're made a little bit lower than the heavenly beings. That is, we occupy a mediating position between the angels, who are above us, and the animals, who are below. The eighth psalm actually spells that out in that sequence. But, you see, it's the privilege of men and women in that mediating position, being made a little lower than the heavenly beings, to look up to the heavenly beings and beyond the heavenly beings to God—that is, to be like God, to whom we look.

The tragedy of the human condition is that instead of looking up to God and becoming like God, we have rebelled against Him, refusing to know Him. As a result, we have done the only other thing that's left open to us. We've looked down to the animals and have become increasingly like them. We have become beastlike in our conduct, not only to ourselves but also to one another—and even worse than that, because in our depraved condition, we do things that the animals would not even do. You see, there's the tragedy—being made for communion with God, yet rejecting that communion and becoming beastlike.

Study Questions:

  1. What two surprises are mentioned in today’s study?
  2. What two things do we learn from Jesus’ weeping for Jerusalem?
  3. What important point do we learn from Psalm 8?

Key Point: The tragedy of the human condition is that instead of looking up to God and becoming like God, we have rebelled against Him, refusing to know Him. As a result, we have done the only other thing that's left open to us. We've looked down to the animals and have become increasingly like them. We have become beastlike in our conduct, not only to ourselves but also to one another—and even worse than that, because in our depraved condition, we do things that the animals would not even do.


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