Jesus Weeps Over Jerusalem
This short little section in our reading for today is a passage that I think probably most of us haven't thought about too much. Compared to a lot of other passages in Luke, there isn't much written on it. There are a couple of interesting observations to be made, so in honor of this often-ignored passage, here they are.
1. Jesus Weeps - We do see this in other parts of the Gospels, but I think it's something that we don't often consider when we think about Jesus: we might remember His righteous anger in clearing out the temple, we think of His care in dealing with sinners and the broken, but (as we've discussed before) we often just think of Jesus as a wise, emotionless sage that dispenses life principles. That is not so in this passage. Jesus is broken with sadness - but this isn't even the same sadness that we see when He weeps at the death of Lazarus: this is a brokenness that stems from Israel's rejection of who He is. He came as the Messiah, the Promised one of Israel, but the nation has rejected Him. Jesus weeps both over the rejection of Himself, but also over the judgement that will befall the nation and city in the years to come. Judgment will come, but God/Jesus does not delight in it.
2. Jesus Prophecies - This passage is also interesting because Jesus prophecies concerning Jerusalem. Often when Jesus does speak of the future, it is in the context of the End Times or about His own death, but in this case He speaks of something to come soon. Here's a quick explanation from Bock on those events. Jesus is speaking here of history-changing events that befall Israel a few decades later:
"What Jesus predicts is the “curse” for covenant unfaithfulness (Ps. 137:9; Isa. 29:1–4; Jer. 6:6–21; 8:18–22; Nah. 3:10). The roots of his prediction go back to Deuteronomy 28–32, where God warned that such unfaithfulness would lead to his judgment through other nations. Through Assyria and Babylon Israel already experienced such judgment. They are continuing to miss the moment of truth, and they are now responsible for their decision.
Josephus describes these judgments in great detail (Jewish Wars 5.11–12 §§ 446–572; 6.1–10 §§ 1–442). In A.D. 70, Titus of Rome overran the city. The final act was a great siege, the essence of which Jesus summarizes here. Anyone who knows how Rome took large cities can describe what Jesus does here. His prophetic insight is his understanding of what their rejection of the Messiah will cost them.
Jesus’ reference to “the days will come” indicates a prophetic oracle (1 Sam. 2:31; 2 Kings 20:17; Isa. 36:9; Jer. 7:32–34; 32:38; 33:14; 49:2; Zech. 14:1). Here it is an oracle of doom. An embankment will be built around the city, and the people will be encircled and hemmed in. When the enemy finally enters the city, everyone will be slaughtered and there will be total destruction. This is exactly what Titus brought. So thorough was his destruction that even the great temple fell. Jesus knows what he is talking about. The decision to reject Jesus is a fundamental violation of covenant trust."