Bible oldContinuing a study of the passages from Luke’s Gospel which have been omitted from the three-year Lectionary for public worship, today’s post is part of my ongoing series Forbidden Bible Verses, also essential to understanding Scripture.

The following Bible passages have been excluded from the three-year Lectionary used by many Catholic and Protestant churches around the world.

Do some clergy using the Lectionary really want us understand Holy Scripture in its entirety? I wonder.

Today’s reading is from the English Standard Version with commentary by Matthew Henry and John MacArthur.

Luke 19:41-44

Jesus Weeps over Jerusalem

41 And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, 42 saying, “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. 43 For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side 44 and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation.”

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The passage which immediately precedes this is Luke’s account of Jesus’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem on a donkey colt (Luke 19:28-40).

The crowds cheered, crying out ‘Hosanna’ — ‘Save now’ — and calling Him ‘the King who comes in the name of the Lord’. They expected Him to inaugurate a temporal Jewish kingdom, overthrowing Roman rule. They misunderstood the purpose of Jesus’s ministry.

This took place a few days before Passover. John MacArthur says this would have been the Monday. We remember these events on Palm Sunday.

John MacArthur tells us that the Old Testament prophesied His arrival in Jerusalem at this time (emphases mine):

This was the city.  This was the week.  In fact, Friday would be the day.  And He sets this demonstration in motion to move everything toward His own crucifixion on Friday because that’s the day when the Passover lambs were slain and that’s the day when He would be slain as the true and only lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.  His timing is impeccable.  It is also the day, Monday, when the families took the lamb they were to have slain on the Passover into the house, the lamb that would become a pet of the family, endearing itself to the family to be then slaughtered as a symbol of sacrifice for the sins of the family.  And so He offers Himself, as it were, to the family of Israel on the very day when they were taking in their lambs and He would die on the very day when the lambs would be slain.

His timing is also perfect because Daniel 9 verses 24 to 27 said in the prophecy that there would be 69 times seven years, weeks of years, 69 times 7 until Messiah would come and be cut off.  Sixty-nine times seven is 483 years, they calculated years at 360 days a year 483 years at 360 days totals one hundred and seventy-three thousand, eight-hundred and 80 days.  So from the beginning until the Messiah comes to be cut off, you have this duration of 483 years of 360 days.  That’s prophesied in Daniel 9:24 to 27.  When does it start?  It started with a decree to rebuild Jerusalem.  When was that?  Four-forty-five B.C., declared by Artaxerxes and precisely from then until this week and this day is the 483 years.  He comes in perfect fulfillment of Daniel’s prophecy.  Everything is in line.  And so He triggers the event Himself by sending the disciples to get the animal which He will ride into the city.

Furthermore, when the Pharisees told Jesus to silence the crowd because they were blaspheming in exalting Him, He replied (Luke 19:40):

He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.”

MacArthur tells us that He is referring to a prophecy Habakkuk made:

Screaming stones?  What is that?  What is that?  It’s more than just the expression of praise from some inanimate object, as if God is to be praised by His creation…far more than that.  In fact, in the little prophecy of Habakkuk, chapter 2, we have a very good parallel.  In the prophecy of Habakkuk we have a statement of judgment on the Chaldeans…the Chaldeans, the wicked, pagan Chaldeans.  And the Chaldeans had basically prospered as a society, but they had prospered at the expense of other nations, they had prospered by extortion, they had prospered by usury, charging exorbitant interest rate, they had prospered by murder and bloodshed.  They had literally built their towns and cities by the sacrifice and the slaughter and the abuse of other people.  So Habakkuk, the prophet, is given a message from God of judgment against them.  I just want to pick out one verse, that is in verse 11.  “Surely the stone will cry out from the wall and the rafter will answer it from the framework.” Then verse 12, “Woe to him who builds a city with bloodshed and founds a town with violence.”  The stones in the houses and the buildings that they built were symbols of their wickedness.  The walls of their houses and the timbers of their roofs plundered from others gained by bloodshed and usury, scream of their wickedness, scream of their guilt.  And Jesus is saying the same thing here.

Jesus spoke of this earlier, in Luke 13:33-35 in his lament over Jerusalem:

33 Nevertheless, I must go on my way today and tomorrow and the day following, for it cannot be that a prophet should perish away from Jerusalem.’ 34 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! 35 Behold, your house is forsaken. And I tell you, you will not see me until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!’”

In today’s reading from Luke, as our Lord approached Jerusalem, He broke down in tears (verse 41). Matthew Henry’s commentary tells us:

What a tender spirit Christ was of we never read that he laughed, but we often find him in tears.

MacArthur says that the word used here in Greek is:

the strongest word in the Greek language, it would be equal to our word “sobbing…heaving.”  Very strong, THE strongest, a heaving, sobbing, agonizing, wrenching expression of sorrow, no stronger word exists.  Jesus sees Jerusalem and He’s racked with agony.  He begins to heave and sob … He wept in the face of their hypocrisy and their shallowness and their rejection in a few days which He was well aware was coming.  And He wept because He knew what would come after that.  And He wept because He knew their damnation was coming.

Our Lord laments that Jerusalem never understood that they were to make peace and that this understanding was now hidden from them forever (verse 42). MacArthur explains:

Not talking about peace with Rome, not talking about political peace, not talking about internal social peace, He’s talking about peace with God … He had preached it from the very beginning, He preached repentance and the Kingdom.  How to come into the Kingdom through faith in Him, repentance from sin.  He had preached it all along

But unbelief had blinded them all the way along.  They chose to be unbelieving, hard-hearted, self-righteous rejecters of Christ.  He gave invitation after invitation after invitation, they rejected them all and therefore they rejected peace…peace with God.

Jesus then prophesied the destruction of the Temple (verses 43 and 44), which took place in 70 AD. Henry summarises what happened:

The peaceful things are not hidden from the eyes of particular persons but it is too late to think now of the nation of the Jews, as such, becoming a Christian nation, by embracing Christ. And therefore they are marked for ruin, which Christ here foresees and foretels, as the certain consequence of their rejecting Christ. Note, Neglecting the great salvation of ten brings temporal judgments upon a people[;] it did so upon Jerusalem in less than forty years after this, when all that Christ here foretold was exactly fulfilled. [1.] The Romans besieged the city, cast a trench about it, compassed it round, and kept their inhabitants in on every side. Josephus relates that Titus ran up a wall in a very short time, which surrounded the city, and cut off all hopes of escaping. [2.] They laid it even with the ground. Titus commanded his soldiers to dig up the city, and the whole compass of it was levelled, except three towers[;] see Josephus’s history of the wars of the Jews, 5. 356-360 7. 1. Not only the city, but the citizens were laid even with the ground (thy children within thee), by the cruel slaughters that were made of them: and there was scarcely one stone left upon another. This was for their crucifying Christ this was because they knew not the day of their visitation. Let other cities and nations take warning.

MacArthur has more detail, beginning by describing the present-day situation:

The judgment pronounced here is still in place.  Israel today currently is under divine judgment.  Are they God’s chosen people for a future salvation?  Yes.  Will He preserve them as a people unto that salvation?  Yes.  But currently they are under the same judgment that launched against them by God in the pronunciation of Jesus here and began in its powerful expression in 70 A.D., forty years later with the destruction of Jerusalem.  Since that time, Jerusalem has been trodden underfoot to one degree or another by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles ends.

The Romans systematically destroyed the city:

They built a … barricade, a high barrier to seal off the city so that no one could go in and no one  could go out …  Josephus, the historian, tells us they built it out of wood and the Jews burned it down.  So they built a wall around the city of Jerusalem.  This is what Titus Vespasian did, according to Josephus, the historian, in his writing, The Jewish War.  That’s the first feature

Second, verse 43, surround you.  The enemy then surrounds you at the point of the wall  …  The city is sealed off from all supplies.  Anyone who tries to escape is killed and thousands on the inside eventually begin, and it doesn’t take long, to starve and die.  This all started in 66 A.DThe Jews revolted against Rome in 66.  That brought the Romans.  That led to the Roman siege in 70 A.D. …  They then put their troops there, completely surrounding the city fully cutting it off.  That led to the third element, consequentially, hem you in on every side, sunecho, to press, to crowd from all sides, just escalating the pressure, the pressure from all sides.  Number four, they will level you to the ground.  It literally means to shatter against the ground, to smash against the ground.  That is to say, the city will then be sacked and flattened and not just the city but your children within you.  It’s not talking only about infants, or little children, tekna, your sons, your inhabitants

Notice please verse 44, the middle of the verse, “They will not leave in you one stone upon another.” Those are the stones, friends, that cry out.  When you go silent, the stones will cry out.  Forty years later, the stones that made up that glorious city will lie on the ground as rubble … screaming of the judgment on Israel’s unbelief

Five months the siege took.  And the Romans overpowered the weakened Jews, starving Jews.  Roman soldiers rampaged through Jerusalem basically slaughtering everybody, children, women, adults…except the strongest young men which they kept for gladiatorial games.  They destroyed the city.  Everything except the western Wailing Wall, some of you have seen it there, a few other sections, massacring everybody, the hundreds of thousands of people, literally were slaughtered.  Josephus writes this, “While the sanctuary was burning, the temple, neither pity for age, nor request for rank was shown.”  …  Children and old people, laity and priests alike were massacred.  The emperor ordered the entire city and temple to be razed to the ground, leaving only the highest towers and the portion of the wall on the west, all the rest of the wall was so completely razed as to leave future visitors to the spot, no reason to believe that the city had ever been inhabited.  And the stones cried out, screamed out of judgment, total destruction.

That is a highly painful, extensive and relentless divine judgement.

However, in my post last week, I cited Henry’s analysis, not without irony:

When Christ had set up his gospel kingdom, and thereby put reputation upon the gospel ministry, then he comes to reckon with the Jews then it is remembered against them that they had particularly disclaimed and protested against his kingly office, when they said, We have no king but Cæsar, nor would own him for their king. They appealed to Cæsar, and to Cæsar they shall go Cæsar shall be their ruin. Then the kingdom of God appeared when vengeance was taken on those irreconcileable enemies to Christ and his government they were brought forth and slain before him. Never was so much slaughter made in any war as in the wars of the Jews. That nation lived to see Christianity victorious in the Gentile world, in spite of their enmity and opposition to it …

Henry, who lived in the 17th and 18th centuries, believed that other cities elsewhere in the world could face such a judgement. One wonders, given the state of some of them today, particularly in the West. More money won’t fix them; they already have enough funds. The problem is political and social corruption which come from a lack of private faith in Jesus Christ.

MacArthur focusses on individual salvation instead:

Can I make it very practical for you?  Rejection of Jesus Christ as Lord is catastrophic for you, too.  It’s no less catastrophic for you than it was for them.  What about your day of opportunity?  What about the time when you’ve heard the gospel, when the gospel’s been presented to you?  The time when you’ve been told how you can be reconciled to God?  What have you done with your visitation?  Have you recognized the time of your spiritual opportunity or is the end going to be as catastrophic for you as it was for them?  What are you doing about God’s gracious visitation in your life with the truth of the gospel?

That’s the question you have to answer.  It’s history but it’s a monumental lesson to the catastrophe of rejecting Christ.  Don’t follow that path.  Become one of Him, embrace Him as your Savior.

Unbelievers are under a false assumption when they say, ‘I face no judgement because Jesus is not my Saviour’. Be careful with that type of statement. Take a history lesson from Jerusalem. Then ask our Lord for grace and faith.

Next time: Luke 19:45-48

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