This article on Luke 19:41 is about the tears of Jesus for the salvation of the lost.

Source: The Banner of Truth, 1995. 2 pages.

Luke 19:41 – Jesus Weeping over the Holy City

And when He was come near He beheld the city, and wept over it.

Luke 19:41

A description of the beauty and excellency of Christ will always come short of the reality of his matchless glory. It is impossible to relate the fulness of his perfect love. Even in his tears he speaks a language unequalled in its compassion and tender instruction.

The above picture of our Saviour is given as he journeyed towards Jerusalem. It was his last journey before his passion. Accompanied by many of his followers, he was climbing the rugged Judean hills. Every so often, on this winding road, they enjoyed a beautiful panorama of the Holy City and its Temple courts. As they were so journeying, suddenly, in a vision, the Prophet of all prophets had a view of Jerusalem in its distant future. Awesome was the contrast between the present view of Jerusalem and that of the future. Now the city was rather prosperous and secure; then it would lie in ruin, with not one stone left upon the other. This overwhelming sight made the Saviour weep.

We do not read often in the Bible that Jesus wept. The sympathising Jesus wept here, and as we read in John chapter eleven, also with Martha and Mary at the grave of Lazarus. These are the only two instances recorded in the Gospels. However, there was still another occasion. This appears to have been in private and when the Man of Sorrows bore his sacred grief in Gethsemane's garden. We know this from the epistle to the Hebrews. In chapter five and at verse seven we find these words:

Who in the days of his flesh, when he had 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.

When Jesus wept at Lazarus' grave, it was, according to the original Greek, a silent, soft and subdued weeping. While he wept over the future downfall of Jerusalem and over the ill-fate of so many precious covenant children, it was an audible and loud weeping.

Jesus foresaw the future, the year AD 70, when Jerusalem would be captured by the Romans. The Jewish historian Josephus tells us about the awesomeness of this war and of the fearful destruction which it brought on the Holy City. Some modern historians are of the opinion that this was the most cruel war ever. No wonder that the sympathising Jesus wept when he saw Jerusalem's doom! His sorrow and concern included also and especially the many souls that were lost. The Messiah's person and preaching had been wilfully rejected by so many. Divine judgments would finally fall upon those who had cried out: 'His blood be upon us and our children'. This was not surprising. Yet here we see a weeping Jesus.

What is the significance of these tears of Jesus? Certain theologians have taught that they were of little value as they were but human tears. It is true that Jesus wept only in his human nature, for God cannot weep. We may in­deed distinguish between the two natures of Christ, but we may never separate the one from the other. He possessed two natures; however, he was only one person. Furthermore, these tears have a rich significance for they were Messianic tears. Christ was the Messiah. As such he reveals who God is. He gives us a precious view of what lives in the heart of God. Without Christ, these secrets would have remained hidden for ever.

The sinless Saviour was fully in agreement with the Father's justice in punishing the impenitent. Likewise, he believed in the sovereignty of God, as is evident from his own words, especially those recorded in Matthew 11 verse 25:

I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and the prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes.

Yet the Saviour's tears reveal the sacred inner emotions of his sorrow. It is a sorrow that can never be measured. How strong was ever his desire that sinners would be saved! Was not that the design of his entire min­istry? Did he not spend all his time and energy for that purpose? Indeed, in life and death, he sought as no other has ever done, the honour of his Father and the salvation of the lost.

Are not his utterances as recorded in the Gospel according to Matthew a commentary on these tears of Jesus? See him exclaim,

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!.

Ah, what a tenderness is here! How fervently the Saviour longs for the salvation of the lost! If only the unconverted sinner could know how rich a love dwells in the heart of our precious Redeemer! He understands the plight of the sinner as no one else. His gracious warnings are a proof of this; no less so are his tears. They cry out to the sinner:

I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live.Ezekiel 33:11

Later the Apostle Paul was to speak of his having 'a great heaviness and continual sorrow for his kinsmen according to the flesh' (Romans 9:2). Every converted person should, like Christ and like Paul, weep over the souls of those who are still without God and without his grace. There is too little of this weeping to be seen in the professing church of today.

May the Lord arise and have mercy upon his Zion, that the tears of Jesus may again be understood. Then many a sinner will hear the voice of Jesus pleading: 'Turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?' Christ's arms are still stretched out with this plea of welcome. It is his delight to welcome and to receive sinners who come to him for grace.

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