of rejoicing, our Lord broke out with violent weeping and He tells
us why. It is because of things He knew.
A Sermon of Maurice Roberts
Reading: Leviticus 24: 10-23
"And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over
If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things
belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes" (Luke
He beheld the city, and wept over it" (text).
1. JESUS WEPT
2. THESE TEARS TELL US?
3. WHAT IS AHEAD FOR EVERY UNREPENTANT SINNER
This must be one of the most touching passages in the Gospels. Here
the Lord Jesus Christ weeping over the city of Jerusalem. It is a touching
thing to see anyone weeping, even a child. There is something infectious
about tears. When we see a child or a young person in tears it has
effect upon us: we have a sense of fellow feeling and sympathy. However,
the stronger the person who weeps the more powerful the effect is upon
We are more affected by seeing a strong man weeping than a child. It
belongs to manhood to conceal our affections and emotions to a large
extent. As we grow older, we weep more in secret, less in public, than
do as children. If we were here simply looking at the case of a great
weeping, it would be touching enough. What we see in fact is none other
than our Lord and Saviour Himself, Jesus Christ, and He is weeping.
must be to us a moving experience.
This word here for 'weeping' is a word which needs explanation. We
Christ weeping in John's Gospel chapter 11 - that famous and familiar
passage where Lazarus, the brother of Mary and Martha, was now dead
been dead for some days, and was in his grave. The sisters, you remember,
were there weeping sadly over their brother's decease. Jesus came about
four days after the event. When He saw the deep emotion of the mourners
followers we are told that "Jesus wept" (John 11, 35). It is
verse in the whole Bible: those two words in the English language -
I mention that because here again we see Christ weeping. What is not
clear from our English translation is the two words for weeping are
different. In John's Gospel, the word refers to 'shedding tears'. If
are students of Greek here, it is the word 'dakruo': to shed tears.
tears: tears which well up in your eyes and overflow and course down
cheeks. Silent weeping, that is what we have in John's Gospel chapter
eleven. Here it is a different word. It is the word 'klaio' which means
audible weeping. The weeping which so suddenly seizes you that you
your control and you cry out aloud: weeping together with visible,
emotion. Indeed, you could translate this verb at verse forty-one like
- "He broke out with crying - He broke out with it." It seems
to have been
a sudden violent passion that gripped our Lord.
Why should Christ have been so suddenly gripped in that way? This was
very last week of His earthly life and ministry. In another six days
He was to be crucified so this was His last visit to Jerusalem - the
capital city. Here was the temple. Here was the memorial of the nations
glory and her centre of worship. Here were the learned. Here were the
religious, the scholars, the great and the wealthy in Jerusalem. Our
was approaching the city from the east side. We are told about the
Olives somewhere here and He was coming from that direction.
If you cast your eyes back, we are told that He "was coming near
Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount called the mount of Olives" (verse
These places were to the east of the city. As you come to a certain
the hill on the Mount of Olives, as you begin to descend you come to
valley of the Kidron and so you have a magnificent view of the city.
are above it and looking down on it. The roof of the temple was covered
over with gold. It was a magnificent sight. Here was the teeming population
of this holy city with all its historic associations and religious
Instead of rejoicing, our Lord broke out with violent weeping and He
us why. It is because of things He knew. "If thou hadst known, even
at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but
they are hid from thine eyes. For the days shall come upon thee, that
enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and
thee in on every side. And shall lay thee even with the ground, and
children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon
another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation" (verse
42-44). He was aware of things that were soon to happen to Jerusalem
burst forth with this violent convulsion of weeping. It must have been
surprise to those beside Him, and there were many. There was a great
of His disciples following Him. We are told about them - just a few
higher up in this passage we read - "Even now at the descent of
whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God?" (verse
Our Lord was coming in riding upon this colt of an ass which had been
borrowed for the occasion. They were throwing their clothes into the
before Him and waving palm branches. We call this the 'triumphal entry
Christ into Jerusalem'. I was consulting a book which told me that
Monday of what we call the 'passion week of our Lord'. I can't vouch
that but let's assume it's right: Monday of the last week of our Lord's
life and ministry. He was concerned to think that Jerusalem, with all
privileges, prophets and means of grace - the sacrificial system, the
of Old Testament, the scholars, the teachers - for all of these things
were blind to the most important events which had ever happened in
their history. What was that event? Our Lord refers to it here - He
At least in this thy day" (text). We know what He meant by "this
- it is the day when the Lord Jesus Christ entered into their midst:
of kings and Lord of lords; it was the day God had spoken of in many
of the Old Testament, preparing them for this day.
They had had hundreds and hundreds of years of preparation for this
day. All their prophets, without exception, referred to it but they
blind to the identity of Christ. They didn't know Him. They didn't
recognise Him. Those words in the prologue of John's Gospel are now
true: "He came unto his own, and his own received him not" (John
They didn't know Him. They didn't recognise He was the promised Saviour
the promised Messiah. He saw, therefore, that in forty years time -
this was 30 AD when this was happening - that in 70 AD, the Jewish
was brought under the terrible judgement of God. The Roman armies come.
refers to it in verses forty-three and forty-four (quoted in paragraph
at the end of His appeal to them here. His lamentation that in another
forty years time the Roman soldiers, thousands upon thousands of them,
would encircle Jerusalem for the Great Siege, as we call it. There
waited for the Jews to slowly starve to death.
It was one of the most terrible, indeed, probably the most terrible
of history. Women killed and ate their own husbands through sheer hunger.
They ate their own babies. They stole food out of one another's mouths
they were at such a point of desperation. The Roman soldiers waited
after year until they knew that the people were famished and then they
rushed in and slaughtered them by the thousands. Any who survived were
taken violently out of the city to Rome. There they built the Coliseum
other places as slaves to the Roman Empire.
Our Lord saw this coming. "Thine enemies shall cast a trench about
and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side. And shall lay
even with the ground, and thy children within thee" (verse 43-44).
course, we know that that literally happened. Our Lord was not guessing.
This was not some speculative statement; it was prophetic, inspired
foreknowledge. Any one who would like to verify the accuracy of our
predictions need only go to Flavious Josephus's' famous book entitled "The
Wars of the Jews" or "The Jewish War". There you will
find some hundreds of
pages of the exact detailed description and documentation of how Christ's
words here in this text were minutely fulfilled. The temple was ravished,
destroyed; they were taken away. Our Lord wept to think this would
You may say to me, "But why did all this happen to the Jews? Why
did God do
this and bring this judgement on them?" The answer is, because they
know Him and they would not have Him. They did not want His teaching.
didn't want him to be their Saviour. They were self-righteous, religious
men and women. They had no desire at all for Him, so He wept audibly
the city. My dear friends, it is a very moving spectacle.
2. THESE TEARS TELL US?
Now, what is there here to teach us lessons that we need to know? What
the things to learn? In the first instance, I would like to say to
these tears tell us exactly who Jesus Christ is. Second, to show you
these tears indicate that Christ knows what is going to happen to every
of us, even though we may be totally ignorant of what lies ahead. Third,
would like to show you that these tears show us how great is our Saviour's
love for all sinners. These three lessons I would like us to learn.
(a) WHO JESUS CHRIST IS
The first one is this. These tears of Christ, tell us who He
he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it." He howled
Saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the
things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine
(text). It was too late. Their time of visitation was over. God's patience
had ended. He would bless them no more. He would scatter them to the
winds. He would destroy their temple, flatten their houses, carry
persons and lay them in their streets. Rivers of blood flowed in the
and in their streets. It was carnage upon carnage and all because they
not know that this was the Saviour of the world. They would not receive
Him. They would not have Him. They didn't believe in Him. They rejected
Him. They crucified Him. They cried, "His blood be on us, and on
children" (Matthew 27, 25) - a mad, foolish, reckless cry, which
terribly true. I say then that these tears tell us who He is.
Who is the Lord Jesus Christ? He is both God and man. He is God with
nature. He is the unique Person Who is both equal to God and yet also
with us, having taken our nature at His incarnation.
How do we see that here in His tears? We see it like this. As God,
course, He would not be able to weep. God does not weep. God does not
suffer. God does not die. It is as man He weeps. The reason for the
is the knowledge that He has, as God. No mere man, not even a brilliant
man, can see into the future. Who amongst us has any idea what is going
happen forty years on from now, or even forty days, or even forty hours?
You and I do not read the future. We cannot see the future but He could,
did. His eye saw forty years ahead because He is God.
We refer to that kind of knowledge of future events as foreknowledge
is the technical term - foreknowledge. My dearly beloved friends, of
course, foreknowledge is something that only the Almighty God possesses.
How many people would love to be able to see into the future but they
haven't got that gift - none of them has it. Almighty God has it and
we see Him in our nature. As He viewed what was going to happen to
women and children; and to the city, the temple, the houses and the
- He was so affected with compassion and pity at their foolishness
their rebelliousness that He shook with tears to think of their bad
Jesus Christ, I say, can foresee and foretell the future. It is a proof,
one of very many proofs, that He is God. I want you to believe that,
friends. That's why in a congregation like this, we don't associate
all the other religions of the world. It is a very common thing today
churches to be part of what's called a 'multi-faith' religion. They
services for everybody. Muslims are welcome and Hindus come; Buddhists
there and Jews sit here and so forth; we all join in a multi-faith
we all pray to god, whoever he is. We mustn't do that for this reason:
people do not accept Christ to be God then we must have no religious
fellowship with them. We mustn't, of course, do them any harm. They
neighbours and we treat them with love and kindness and respect but
religion we regard as false. Only that religion which believes that
Christ is God Almighty, is the truth, and here He is: God incarnate,
God man, God in our nature. He is here. His knowledge tells Him what
going to happen all the way through to the end of history. What He
touches His human heart so deeply that He sheds these tears. "O
Jerusalem," He cried (Matthew 23, 37).
You might want to say to me, "Does Christ prophesy of future events
anywhere else?" I will remind you that He did. What else did our
prophesy about? Before His death, He gave a detailed description to
disciples as to how He would die. They would scourge Him, He said,
would put Him on the cross; on the third day, He would rise again from
dead. These were all prophecies. You can read of them all in the Gospels,
they are all clearly written there.
Then our Lord foretold the day of Pentecost. He knew, of course, when
Holy Spirit would be poured down upon the church: ten days after His
ascension. He said so about the time of the transfiguration. Our Lord
There be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death,
till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power" (Mark 9,
was the day of Pentecost. They weren't all able to be in that position.
Judas Iscariot was standing there but he would be dead before the day
Pentecost, he would have hanged himself, but our Lord prophesied Pentecost.
our Lord makes a prophecy on the gathering of the Gentiles: the
gathering of them into the church. He says this, "And they shall
the east, and from the west, and from the north, and from the south,
shall sit down in the kingdom of God" (Luke 13, 29). That is a prophecy
Scotland, Holland, America, Australia and other places where He was
to stretch forth the arms of mercy and slowly gather in from the whole
nation - from all the nations of the world - a people for Himself.
a prophecy, which, of course, is abundantly fulfilled, as everybody
Our Lord prophesies the scattering of the Jews. They will be scattered
all nations, all over the world, but, he says, here's an interesting
This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled"
(Matthew 24, 34). He surely means there that the Jew will retain his
identity all through history - notwithstanding the fact that they will
cast into many nations and scattered throughout many peoples - the
One of the most moving and marvellous of all our Lord's predictions
found in Luke 21; something, which always tends to move me to tears.
to these words. "Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles,
times of the Gentiles be fulfilled" (Luke 21, 24). Why does that
move me so
much? Because, in 1948 the State of Israel was set up - something new
beginning to happen in the world. A new chapter in divine providence
beginning. You see therefore, our Lord with His divinity looked through
corridors of time and saw these things. He saw the end of the world
My dearly beloved friends, the first lesson we are to learn from these
tears is that He is the Messiah, the Saviour and the God-man. Nobody
could make such prophecies as this but only He. If He were only God
could not shed tears. If He were only man, He would not see into the
but His divinity moved His humanity. The divine nature acted upon the
nature as the knowledge that He had in His divine mind touched His
heart and our Lord wept.
Do you believe, my friends, that Jesus Christ is God? I beg you if
don't to readjust your thoughts about Him. Your thoughts are unworthy
Him. If you simply think that Christ is a great man, or a great teacher,
a great hero, then I say you must revise your thoughts about Him. He
of that, of course, but He is also God, nothing less than the incarnate
God. I have given you reasons for so believing.
(b) HOW GREAT IS OUR SAVIOUR'S LOVE FOR ALL SINNERS
Secondly, these tears show us that our Lord Jesus Christ loves sinners.
thing that moved our Lord was the plight of these poor people who did
believe in Him. I should say in the passing, let us note, our Lord
wept for Himself. Some people do a lot of weeping for themselves, which
not a particularly virtuous thing to do. Self-pity has no place in
Jesus Christ. He knew very well what they would do to Him. He knew
scourging would come, the crown of thorns, the cross, the mockery,
jeering and the hatred. He saw it all by His divine eye, but He never
There was an occasion when certain women who were on their way with
the cross, wept for Him and wailed and smote their breasts because
that He was a nice man, as they thought, going to His bad and painful
death. Do you remember what our Lord said? "Jesus turning unto them
Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves, and
your children" (Luke 23, 28) and for the things that are coming
What He means to teach us is that our Lord came into the world with
for the souls of men and women. He didn't come to take pity upon Himself.
This is the mind of Christ. The Bible refers to that phrase: "The
Christ" (1 Corinthians 2, 16). The more holy and the more sanctified
and I become, the more we will have this "mind of Christ".
The more like
Christ we become the more we forget our own troubles and ourselves,
more we weep for other people's troubles. The more we see the plight
mankind, the sad state of men and women without a Saviour, the more
be moved with concern for them.
Listen to the words of Christ, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that
the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often
have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens
under her wings, and ye would not! (Matthew 23, 37). "I would," He
and "you would not". Their stubbornness and rebellion was such
would not accept Him.
Even here, you notice, when our Lord was coming in to the city on this
or ass, the crowd was shouting, "Hosanna" (Matthew 21, 9),
were crying out "Blessed be the king that cometh in the name of
(Luke 19, 38). The Pharisees came and they said, "Master, rebuke
disciples" (Luke 19, 40) for the way they are speaking about you.
exaggerating your praises, they meant. Our Lord said, "If these
their peace, the stones would immediately cry out" (Luke 19, 40).
It was so
obvious, even to a stone, that this was God incarnate. It was obvious,
to the very bricks under their feet, that this was the Messiah. Everything
proved it: His miracles, His teaching, His person, His sinlessness.
were blind and even purblind to our Lord's identity. They wouldn't
and even grudged the praise that our Lord was receiving.
Our Lord looked upon them and saw them "as sheep not having a shepherd"
(Mark 6, 34). The more you and I, dear Christian friends, grow in grace
understanding of God the more we shall have this pity and compassion
sinners. We are not called upon to condemn sinners. Sinners are condemned
as it is without any help from you and me. We are called upon to pity
plight, to do a little to try to help them out of their predicament.
it shows the love of Christ to sinners, to all sinners.
One of the arguments that sinners have before they come to faith in
is that they are too wicked or too bad to be saved by Christ. If that
thought that has crossed your mind - don't believe it, it is not true!
There is nobody in this life who is so wicked that Christ will not
them if they will repent and come to Him by faith. It doesn't matter
wicked you are, it doesn't matter how long you have been an unbeliever,
you will turn your back upon your wicked ways and believe in the Lord
Christ, He will welcome you. "Christ Jesus came into the world to
sinners" (1 Timothy 1, 15), that is why He came. This is His mission,
save you and me and others.
I could put it like this. In the bosom of Christ, there is a deep holy
instinct, a desire to save everybody, everywhere. There is that instinct
within Him whereby He was activated by desire even for those that hated
Him, even for the worst of men, even those He knew would never believe,
yet, His overtures of compassion were extended to them. He was ready
what they were not ready to receive.
This is something which people doubt and it is one reason why people
believe the Gospel - one reason why they are hesitant to come. Dear
friends, those of you who are not here professing Christians, I have
from the Word of God that Christ pities your soul. Christ, in love
soul, would say to you, "Repent and believe in me and if you do
forgive all sin and wickedness, whatever it has been. If your record
never so bad and your past never so black, I will forgive all manner
and uncleanness, provided you come to me."
I refer to the Banner of Truth magazine in which there is an article
Afghanistan. Afghanistan is a very Muslim country. In the 1920's a
dear Scottish missionary went out there, Jock Purvis by name. He spent
years on the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan. In a book that
wrote about Afghanistan and the work they tried to do, is a beautiful
which I shall relate.
The man was called Ahmed Ghul. This man was a born and bred Muslim
the rest but he had a remarkable experience: Christ revealed Himself
this man. Consequently, Ahmed Ghul came to meet this missionary, Jock
Purvis. He appeared before him and told him of his experience of having
Christ, as it were. The missionary was astonished at what this man
about Christ. A few days later, some Muslims came along and were suspicious
of this convert. They offered him money and said, "Ahmed, you must
back to the Muslim faith otherwise you will suffer. Here is the money
will give you if you turn from Christianity." Someone else reminded
that the last convert from the Muslim faith in Afghanistan had his
chopped off. Ahmed Ghul, and this is the point I come to, did something
very moving - Jock Purvis tells us of it.
When he heard about the death of this last convert, Ahmed Ghul stood
forward, and he drew a hand across his feet. "You can cut off my
said. Then he drew a line across his knees. "You can cut off my
said. He drew a line across his middle. "You can cut me in half," he
I believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. I know that He is my Saviour." He
to leave the missionaries and go into the interior. They never heard
again and they couldn't go to visit him. We can only speculate as to
happened those many years ago.
My very dear friends, it proves Christ loves souls. If you don't know
Christ as your Saviour, you are missing the most important thing in
You are living in this world - What for? A few more years to make money;
extension to the house, a bigger car perhaps, more comfort, more
experiences - then death will sweep you down the stream as it will
everybody else. What you most need is Christ as your Saviour, to put
trust in this blessed Redeemer so that when you know Him you have the
assurance that all is well with your soul. Whether you live or die,
doesn't matter, you are going to glory to be with Christ, saved by
blood, washed in His blood, safe in Him. That is why Christ came. Had
people in Jerusalem, watching Him weeping over them, knelt down and
for mercy, my friends, oceans of His grace would have washed the city
Jerusalem pure. These judgements would have been averted and the curse
would have been lifted from that nation, so it is with the individual
When we come to believe in Christ as our Saviour and give our hearts
Him, then all the wrath and curse of God is removed from us for ever.
On the other hand, if we know these things and hear them or if we don't
know these things and continue all our life in darkness without Christ,
then I say, and this brings me to my third point, there cannot be anything
ahead of the end of your life but terrible trouble.
3. WHAT IS AHEAD FOR EVERY UNREPENTANT SINNER
My third heading then is this. These tears shows us that Christ knows
things about the sinner's future that the sinner himself does not yet
Isn't that true? Our Lord is weeping over these people. He knew what
coming for them. They never guess
ed, never dreamed that forty years on, the wrath of God would fall
them, the swords of the Romans would be drenched in blood, the streets
would be running with blood and filled with carcases, their temple
overthrown. They never imagined or dreamed it.
My point is this. This blessed Saviour Who knows the future, knows
ahead for every sinner. That is why, many times over in His preaching,
Lord Jesus Christ tells us what is ahead for every unrepentant sinner.
First, the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5) - He puts it like this:
will be some people at the end of the world and they will, perhaps,
lived a decent, moral, virtuous life. They think they have never done
anyone any harm but really all the time they have been building on
sand, not on the Rock of Christ, but on the sand of human righteousness:
self-righteousness. He said, what is going to happen is this. The rain
descend, the winds will blow, the floods will arise and they will beat
against that house. It is an illustration of your life and mine.
If our house is built upon the Rock of Christ crucified, then all is
and the house will stand in the tempest. However, on the other hand,
your life is not built on Christ, and on His teaching and finished
Saviour, if you are not trusting in Christ then the judgement will
all that you have and are away. You will be lost! Your soul will be
eternally lost. What He is doing there is precisely what I said. He
looking into the future. He is telling us things about our future which
nobody else could tell us, apart from Him because, He is God. He is
us things we most desperately need to hear otherwise these things will
upon us and we shall be unprepared.
I take another of His statements from the Sermon on the Mount. Listen
these words. He is referring again to the Judgement Day which is ahead
us all. "Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not
prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in
name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them,
knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity" (Matthew 7, 22-23).
we are talking about people here who were religious. Lord, they thought,
have done many wonderful things in Thy name: religious things, charitable
works, kindnesses. Yet, our Lord will say, "I never knew you".
Why would our Lord say that? He would say that to people who were
religious, up to a point, but who had never come to the point of religious
conversion; they had never been born again. They had never had this
spiritual change which is involved in repentance and turning to Christ
our only hope of salvation. He says these things, in one way or another,
over and over and over again, to show us that we must not rest in
whatsoever of our own, but only in His blood that was shed for us.