Jesus wept. We are told he wept at the grave of Lazarus and wept again as he gazed at beautiful Jerusalem on his triumphal entry. The word for “wept” as he stood before Lazarus’ grave in John 11:35 means simply “to weep”, but the word used for his weeping over Jerusalem in Luke 19:41 is no quiet shedding of tears. It means “to sob, to wail aloud”.
The entire Triumphal Entry is a masterpiece painted by the hand of God with brushstrokes of startling contrasts. The joyous rapture of the crowd as they proclaim Jesus their King at last makes the deep sorrow of the Messiah all the more poignant. Truly, he was their King but his kingdom was not of this world. There would be no violent overthrow of Rome, no parading of their enemies through Jerusalem’s streets. This King would ride into town not on a warhorse, but on the colt of a donkey. The crowd would raise their palm branches, a symbol of Jewish nationalism and independence, as their King entered Jerusalem’s gates with tears still fresh on his face.
When the donkey carrying the Messiah rounded a bend in the path, the trees parted in front of Him to reveal Jerusalem spread before him in all her majesty and beauty. The crown of the city, the magnificent temple mount, rose before him, dominating the landscape.
It was Passover week, and as Christ paused to take in the sight, He would have seen thousands of pilgrims flooding into the city gates to His right. Below Him, and to the left, shepherds drove huge herds of sheep to the temple for sacrifice.
But as the God-Man gazed out over this landscape bustling with Passover preparations, He looked past it only a few short years into the future and saw a different scene. He saw heavily armed Roman troops inflamed with lust for blood and temple gold press into the city slaughtering men, women, and children. He heard the moans and screams of the suffering, and saw infants thrown from the city walls.
Thick smoke billowed from Jerusalem as she burned. Her streets flowed with blood.
And Jesus wept.
Dominus Flevit, the teardrop church, marks the place a Savior paused to weep for his people. If you were there today you might seek relief from the relentless sun beneath an ancient olive tree while gazing upon what remains of the temple below. And if you were silent, very silent, you would be sure to feel the weight of his grief as he wept for Jerusalem.
This is the heart of God- this longing for us despite our rebellion, our relentless forgetfulness of him. May we be reminded today to relinquish our demands for an earthly kingdom of our own design and choose him above all. Amen.