Summary: A Palm Sunday message intended to cause us to search our hearts.
The Time of Thy Visitation
Text: Luke 19:41-44
One time Napoleon and his army were moving through Switzerland. And everywhere they went, Napoleon was greeted with thunderous applause: "Long live the King! Viva la France! Hail to the Emperor Napoleon!"
But Napoleon didn’t seem too excited about what was going on. So a supporter said to him, "Isn’t it great to hear the roar of the crowd; the support of the people?"
And Napoleon replied, "The same people that are cheering for me today would cheer just as loudly at my execution."
Napoleon knew the fickleness of mankind, as did Jesus. This should have been a happy day for our Lord. Here, for the first time Jesus is receiving the public praise He deserves, but instead of Jesus being excited, He’s sad. Here in our text we find Jesus not smiling in triumph, but weeping in agony.
We, the Church, like to focus on “The Triumphal Entry,” but where is the triumph? Where is the victory? No one has been conquered, or in spiritual terms been converted. Jesus did not overthrow the Romans nor set up His earthly kingdom. In fact, there would be no real victory for us until Jesus’ resurrection a week later. I’m not saying that we should not celebrate this morning, but that our celebrating should not be for Palm Sunday, but for Easter Sunday.
This morning, instead of focusing on Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, I feel divinely directed to Jesus’ response as He neared the city and thus our text.
Jesus wept for their . . .
I. Foolish Ignorance. v. 42
For centuries, Christians have been amazed by the fact that 100,000 to 200,000 people could go from praising Jesus to calling for His crucifixion in just five short days. But why should we be amazed when Jesus failed to meet their expectations. They wanted to be delivered from the Romans; Jesus wanted to deliver them from their sin. They wanted a king to sit on David’s throne; Jesus wanted to sit on the thrones of their hearts. They wanted to experience political freedom; Jesus wanted them to experience spiritual freedom. They wanted Him to establish His earthly kingdom; Jesus, instead, established His spiritual kingdom.
The people could have known the truth, but that truth was hid from their eyes. So, who hid that truth? Was it God? No, Jesus was clear that He would have to die on a cross in order to save them from their sin. Was it the devil? While one can be sure he played a role in it, the devil was not the one. Than who is the guilty party? The fact is, the people closed their eyes to the truth. The truth was before them; they looked into the eyes of truth and did not recognize Him. They had the prophecies of the Old Testament, but they interpreted them the way they wanted to.
The question before us this morning is, “Are we, too, foolishly ignorant?” Do we know the truth? Do we know why we believe what we believe? Do we really know God? Do we know how to worship as God would have us to worship?
II. Future Invasion. v. 43-44a
While the people rejoiced, Jesus saw the awful future. In just about 40 years, the Romans would destroy that very city. The shouts of praise would turn into the shouts of war. The cries of, “Hosanna,” would become the cries of fear. The street now covered in palm branches would soon be covered in the blood of the little ones whom Jesus was watching laughing and dancing. These were His people. He loved them even if they would reject and crucify Him. He was willingly sacrificing Himself. No one was making Him go to that cross. He was doing it for all humanity including the ones who would shortly be crying, “Crucify!”
Perhaps, Jesus looked in to the eyes of one of the young lads standing nearby. Those dark eyes were full of excitement, wonder, curiosity, and hope. But in Jesus’ omniscience, He saw those same eyes, 40 years later; fear, confusion, and finally death. His love for them moved him to weep.
III. Failed Inspection. v. 44b
In verse 44 Jesus said, “And shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation.” The word that we translate “visitation” carries with it the thought of someone in authority carrying out an inspection. Jesus came and inspected the “house of Israel,” and found them wanting. Their religion was mere forms, rituals, and rules. They did not repent of their sin as the people of Nineveh did under the preaching of Jonah. While the people appeared to be holy, inside they were full of unrighteousness. They had failed God’s inspection.