Summary: This is about the idea in Lk.19:44 - the people missed the day of God’s visitation. This sermon talks about missing it when God tries to speak to us for our own good.
Luke 19:28-44 – Sorry I Missed Your Visit
Today we are looking at a familiar story from The Life of Jesus. It’s what we call the Triumphal Entry. It tells when Jesus rode into Jerusalem on what we call Palm Sunday, 5 days before His death on what we call Good Friday, and one week before Jesus rose from the dead, the day we celebrate as Easter. We’ll be looking at Good Friday and Easter Sunday from now till Easter on April 16, but today we’re looking at the Triumphal Entry. It’s found in all 4 Gospels, but we’ll be reading from Luke 19:28-44.
I don’t know if you’ve been following the Winter Olympics, but it has been interesting for Canada. This year we won 24 medals, which is really quite good. Cindy Klassen, who is a committed and outspoken Christian, won 5 medals, more than any other Canadian has won in a single Olympics. The men’s curling won gold, and the women’s hockey won gold. But some people can’t get over the fact that the Canadian men got nowhere’s near any medal. As they used to say, the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.
Well, the Triumphal Entry was a similar thing for Jesus. The crowds praised Him as He entered the city of Jerusalem. It was one last applaud from the Father, meant to spur Jesus on for the days to come. It was the thrill of victory.
But Jesus also knew what was coming. He knew that He would be betrayed. He knew that His disciples would desert Him. He knew that the crowds shouting His praise on Sunday would be shouting for His death on Friday. Even though Good Friday brought us salvation and was the fulfillment of Jesus’ obedience, still, the Triumphal Entry was also the agony of defeat.
You can see the sadness in Jesus’ words as He approached the city. He was actually in tears, v41 says. And you can get a glimpse into Jesus’ thoughts that day: "If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace…” If you had only known. What sad words. Words filled with regret and remorse. Wishing you could change the past to make a better present, and a more hopeful future.
Then Jesus says, “But now it is hidden from your eyes.” The people just could not see what it would take to have peace. They scrambled around trying to own the religion, deciding who was in and who was out. They scrambled around trying to get the Romans out of their land. They missed the point of what God wanted to do. He wanted to change their hearts more than change their circumstances. God said they could have peace even when war was raging. But they missed the point.
Jesus then described what would happen to the city: “The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another…” These events would happen within a generation. Jerusalem would be ransacked by the Romans. Many would die, many would flee, never to return. It was a sad story for the Jews, forced from their homeland and their city.
Then Jesus gave the reason: “because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you." This is an interesting phrase. The KJV says, “Thou knewest not the time of thy visitation.” The NLT says, “You have rejected the opportunity God offered you.” The Phillips translation says, “You did not know when God Himself was visiting you.” The NEB says, “You did not recognize God’s moment when it came.” And I like The Message paraphrase: “You didn’t recognize and welcome God’s personal visit.”
The phrase itself is hard to translate and interpret. The Greek word is “episkopos”. It’s where the US version of the Anglican Church gets its name: the Episcopal Church. It means to oversee. But more than just watching, it’s about care-taking. Jesus was saying that people did not notice God’s arrival on earth, His intention being to look after them and take care of them. Jesus, who was God in the flesh, and was proof that God had arrived on earth in a personal visit, came to provide salvation, to be a guide, to take care of those who receive Him.
This visit was intended to look after His people. But people rejected it. Even though His statements were meant to give life and health and strength and hope, people felt they were to limiting. They felt these statements, those hard truths that Jesus preached, were either too stifling and binding or too liberal and gracious. Either Jesus was making heaven too hard to reach or too easy to reach.