The Tears of Jesus (Part 2)

And as he rode along, they spread their cloaks on the road. As he was drawing near—already on the way down the Mount of Olives—the whole multitude of his disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen, saying, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” And some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.” He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.” (Luke 19:36-40 ESV).

Our reading today takes us just moments before Jesus weeps. It is an incredible scene. First, the crowds praised God for Jesus’ mighty works (Luke 19:37). He had healed leprosy with a touch; he had made the blind see and the deaf hear and the lame walk; he had commanded the unclean spirits and they obeyed him; he had stilled storms and walked on water and turned five loaves and two fish into a meal for thousands. So as he entered Jerusalem, they knew nothing could stop him. Surely He could just speak and Pilate would perish; the Romans would be scattered. He was sovereign. They so missed His real message.

Then, secondly, the crowds cried out, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord!” (Luke 19:38). Jesus was a King, and not just any king, but the one sent and appointed by the Lord God. They knew how Isaiah had described him—as sovereign over an invincible, never-ending kingdom. It was described as a universal, never-ending kingdom backed by the zeal of almighty God. Here was the King of the universe, who today rules over the nations and the galaxies, and for whom every political state are merely a grain of sand and a vapor.

Third, when the Pharisees tell him to make the people stop blessing him as a king, he answers, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out” (Luke 19:40). They did not understand that the design of the universe is that Christ be praised. And therefore, if people won’t do it, he will see to it that rocks do it. In other words, he is sovereign. He will get what he means to get. If we refuse to praise, the rocks will get the joy. It is remarkable, therefore, that the tears of Jesus in this passage are so often used to deny his sovereignty. Some argue that he weeps because of his failure to bring this kingdom to earth at this time. But there is something not quite right about this objection to Jesus’ sovereignty. He can make praise come from rocks. And so he could do the same from rock-hard hearts in Jerusalem. What’s more, all this rejection and persecution and killing of Jesus are not the failure of Jesus’ plan, but the fulfillment of it. All this was the completion of the sacrifice assuring this great kingdom. We only wait for the time to be right! That’s our great hope!