The crowd cried out, “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!” “I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”
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” (Luke 19:38-42).
What happened as Jesus rode toward Jerusalem on Palm Sunday? There was a recognition problem, and Jesus wept.
In the US, we recently completed a year (or was it two?) of political campaigning. A deluge of advertising, campaign slogans, political rallies—and rhetoric. Thinking of Jesus’ grand entrance, what would his campaign slogan have been? “Vote Jesus for King”? “Make Israel great again”?
Not at all. He’s riding this humble donkey, which communicates his mission. He does not revel in the adulation. Rather, his mind focuses on what is most important: Do people recognize him for who he is, or do they not?
Some of the crowd acclaim him king of Israel in hopes he will immediately take charge and lead a revolt against the Romans. Others recognize him as the humble Messiah. Regardless of who shouts it, the truth must be heard. To the Pharisees’ objections, Jesus says, “If the people don’t shout the truth about me, the very stones will.”
As Jesus overlooks the city, he pauses to weep over their blindness. Many are saying the right words about Jesus, but they do not comprehend his Good News.
What is good news today? For many, it’s something immediate, shallow, and temporary—like a vaccine, or a stimulus payment. That’s all we need to set the world right. For such people, Jesus wept. He wept for people who rejected him, but also for all who missed the point, who walked away from the cross on Friday, saying, “Guess we were wrong about him…”
Jesus’ heart still breaks for those who fail to recognize him, who don’t understand that he came solely to die a sinner’s death, then rise again as the conqueror of sin and death, for us.
This Good News, if you truly see it, is not shallow, not temporary. It changes your life. It changes your eternity. Because it changes your relationship with God from his enemy to his child. To you who believe this, Jesus says, “But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear” (Matthew 13:16).
The Cross and Easter—it’s all about seeing, or not seeing, Jesus Christ for who he is.
Rev. Brent Juliot serves as contributing editor of Faith & Fellowship magazine and is Pastor of Living Hope Church in Menomonie, Wisconsin.