In Luke 19:41-44, we read:
And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, 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. 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 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.”
About 600 years before this even, the prophet Jeremiah wept over the city of Jerusalem when a nation named Babylon came in and carried the citizens off into exile away from the Holy Land, and destroyed the city—including the Temple! If you wonder about how broken Jeremiah was, reading the book of Lamentations in the OT.
Here, Jesus was weeping over Jerusalem, not simply over the past, but over the present and the future. Wiersbe rightly noted that “no matter where Jesus looked, he found some cause for weeping.” Looking back¸ He saw a nation for whom was the “time of visitation” of the Messiah suffered from wasted opportunities. Looking within, he saw a nation filled with hearts blinded with spiritual ignorance. Looking around, he saw much religious activity, but little accomplished for any eternal significance.
But then he looked ahead. His words about the upcoming days “when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you” set an ominous tone to his triumphal entry. A scant 40 years later, the Romans would lay siege to Jerusalem for 143 days (almost five months), kill 600,000 Jews, take thousands more captive, then destroy the Temple and the city—and like Jeremiah who saw this happen 600 years prior, he wept with a loud lamentation.
We look at the church of Jesus Christ and remember from 1 Peter 4:17 that judgment begins with the house of God. How is Jesus looking at His church now? If he were to show us in looking back, would there be a time filled with wasted opportunities to connect with Jesus and connect Him to others around us? Are the buildings that house the church also filled with those who are spiritually blind and ignorance to the grace of God? Would he look around and see a lot of religious activity that may bring some sort of security and comfort to those inside the buildings, but are really accomplishing little spiritual activity? And what is He seeing ahead?
Just as God used the idolatrous pagan Babylonians and Romans as an instrument of His judgment, He may well use secular governments and kingdoms as judgment toward those who “have a form of religion but deny its power.” The very people who were praising the Savior would be the ones who would turn around and shout “Crucify Him” at the behest of the Roman guards. When things seemed to go according to their plan, they praised. But what would happen when things turned?
Even the subsequent arrest, kangaroo court trial, and His crucifixion were not ultimately at the hands of the Romans and Jewish leaders at that time. The King was working out His plan!