O That We Might Know Peace! {Luke 19}

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By Sue Desmarais

Have you ever seen the different videos of the soldiers coming home from a tour overseas to surprise their parents, spouse, or children? I can’t resist them! I’m such a sap when it comes to a hero’s welcome and consequentially have always loved the story of Palm Sunday, but I recently discovered the story tellers usually only share half of the story; stopping at verse 40! Notice what also happened in that moment:

 “As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes. 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, because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you.” – Luke 19:41-44

Luke had an advantage at the time he wrote this book, for what Jesus is speaking about here had already taken place when Luke penned this. Jerusalem had already been destroyed about ten years prior by the Roman armies in the year 70.

What I hadn’t seen until now, and what I truly don’t understand is, this was to be a joyous occasion! It was a large, (some say 200,000) enthusiastic crowd joyfully proclaiming victory over their enemies and the triumphal arrival of the Kingdom of God!! Why, o why does Jesus begin to weep at this moment!?

The Greek word used here for “wept” is the strongest word used in the Greek language for weep. It would be equivalent to our words "sobbing, heaving, wretched agonizing."  As Jesus sees Jerusalem He's racked with agony and He begins to heave and sob. Definitely NOT the reaction anyone would expect at that moment! Right?

 Jesus knew this would be His final entry into the city of Jerusalem. He knew that in just a few days He would be arrested, tried, beaten and crucified. He knew that some of those very same people that were shouting, “Hosanna!” would soon be shouting, “Crucify Him!” , but He was weeping for the people; not for Himself.  

Jesus begins by saying, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace.” Wait! Why “on this day”? I discovered the reference to "this day" reveals that there is something about this particular day that makes Jesus weep, for “this day" had the potential to bring "things which make for peace." I also learned that when Jesus uses “you” in this verse He is referring to all of Israel.

Some scholars believe that "this day" is the fulfillment of the prophecy in Daniel 9:25, the Messiah would come to Israel at the end of the sixty-ninth week of Daniel which would have been this day of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem.  

So, what exactly would bring Israel (and us) peace on that day or any day?  Repentance; a turning away from their ways of doing and being right, to faith in Jesus as the Messiah; believing the message of the kingdom! The message Jesus had preached from the very beginning of His ministry; the beginning of the Book of Luke, and the same message that had been woven throughout the Old Testament as well! But they still didn’t see! Still didn’t accept it even if they had seen. So Jesus wept for Israel like a parent weeping for a lost or wayward child. I don’t think I’ll ever look at another Palm Sunday celebration the same way again.

I know at the moment all seemed so grand, but Jesus could see through their hypocrisy to their rejection which would be coming in just a few days. He also wept because He knew of their destruction that was coming. Many that were there that day would probably not survive when Rome came to destroy Jerusalem.  He wept because He had already warned them of their own damnation coming, and still they refused to accept peace:

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing. Look, your house is left to you desolate. For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.’” –Matthew 23:37-39

As I’ve researched this passage this week two questions seemed to keep surfacing.

  • The first, do you know what brings peace to every heart? Have you believed and accepted the message Jesus came here to share? That salvation is found in Christ Jesus alone? Do you know, that you know, that you know you have that “peace”? We’ve seen today just how important it is to Jesus, is it just as important to you?

  • Then secondly, do you agonize over the lost like Jesus? Over your friends and loved ones who still to this day do not know the peace He came to offer them?

You and I NEED to be about our Father’s business, for we have “this day” and may never have another!

O Father, Thank You, thank You for Your Word. My heart is full and so thankful that I have been given the assurance of Your peace.  May it be so in each and every heart reading this post, I pray. May each of us turn, receive and embrace the gift of being reconciled to You; making peace possible because of all Jesus has done for us.  May there be no one reading this post that ever has to face such catastrophic and eternal judgment.  


And, Father, please do a work in each of us. Come in, fill us and use us, Lord, to carry this amazing message to those who so desperately need it in our world; those you agonized over that day! We thank You Lord! We give You all the glory and praise in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

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