Jesus Lament Over Jerusalem

SCRIPTURE: Matthew 23:37-39, NLT

37 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones God’s messengers! How often I have wanted to gather your children together as a hen protects her chicks beneath her wings, but you wouldn’t let me. 38 And now, look, your house is abandoned and desolate. 39 For I tell you this, you will never see me again until you say, ‘Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the Lord!’”


Today, I want to approach the text from three different perspectives: First I want to look at it’s historical context, then it’s future context and lastly the present context.


Lets go back up to verse 29 and reread the section…

“What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you build tombs for the prophets your ancestors killed, and you decorate the monuments of the godly people your ancestors destroyed. [30] Then you say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our ancestors, we would never have joined them in killing the prophets.’ [31] “But in saying that, you testify against yourselves that you are indeed the descendants of those who murdered the prophets. 32 Go ahead and finish what your ancestors started. [33] Snakes! Sons of vipers! How will you escape the judgment of hell? [34] “Therefore, I am sending you prophets and wise men and teachers of religious law. But you will kill some by crucifixion, and you will flog others with whips in your synagogues, chasing them from city to city. [35] As a result, you will be held responsible for the murder of all godly people of all time—from the murder of righteous Abel to the murder of Zechariah son of Berekiah, whom you killed in the Temple between the sanctuary and the altar. [36] I tell you the truth, this judgment will fall on this very generation.

Things to NOTE:

  1. There are 27 Zechariah’s in scripture.
  2. The Zechariah mentioned here seems to be Zechariah the minor prophet {Zechariah 1:1}
  3. There was another Zechariah killed between the sanctuary and altar {2 Chronicles 24:20} but this happened in 825 B.C. He was stoned to death by order of Joash the king.
  4. There is another Zechariah mentioned by Josephus who would have been a contemporary with this generation who was killed by two Jewish zealots between the sanctuary proper and the altar.

Commentary: Jesus could very well have used Abel and Zechariah as book ends: He may have been saying from Abel [beginning] until Zechariah you have been prophet killers. The generation that Jesus was speaking to may very well have been guilty of killing a prophet. We know what they are going to do to Jesus, Stephen and James the disciple and James the brother of Jesus. We know that the Sanhedrin will have Peter and John flogged.

We also know…

  • Isaiah was sawn into by wicked king Manasseh
  • Jeremiah was stoned to death in Egypt by an angry Jewish mob
  • Ezekiel was murdered by the Jews in Babylon
  • Micah was executed by king Jehoram
  • Amos was martyred
  • Zechariah was martyred

Isaiah sums up the Jewish attitude toward preachers in chapter 30…

Now go and write down these words. Write them in a book. They will stand until the end of time as a witness that these people are stubborn rebels who refuse to pay attention to the Lord’s instructions. They tell the seers, “Stop seeing visions!” They tell the prophets, “Don’t tell us what is right. Tell us nice things. Tell us lies. Forget all this gloom. Get off your narrow path. Stop telling us about your ‘Holy One of Israel.’”

We all know that the Holy One of Israel is Jesus. They didn’t want to hear about Jesus. This is the historical perspective.


Some of the future is clear because it is history to us and some has not yet been fulfilled. Jesus said concerning their future…“Look, your house is abandoned and desolate. For I tell you this, you will never see me again until you say, ‘Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the Lord!”

By house, I am supposing Jesus is referring to the Nation which encompassed Judaism. Wiersbe thinks that Jesus is even referring to the Temple which was the central aspect of Judaism. It is a good thought…Jesus said, “My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations but you have made it a hangout for thieves.” Jesus may have been saying, “I wanted to be your Savior and King but you have rejected me. You do not understand that without Me your house is empty. Jesus brought the Temple to life, even had the children singing but once the Jewish nation rejected Jesus and crucified Him, the Temple became and empty house. If Jesus is not in your house, you have an empty house.

Jesus said, “You will not see me again until it is too late, until you quote Psalm 118, “Blessed is He that comes in the name of the LORD.” I assume that Jesus is talking about the second advent which could initiate the millennium. I believe the Jews will eventually repent and turn to Christ and it may take the visible presence of Christ to bring this about, I don’t know. One thing for sure, Jesus is definitely referring to the future in verses 38-39. Verse 38 has already been fulfilled before our eyes so there is no need to doubt that 39 will follow suit.

[3] FINALLY, I WANT TO LOOK AT THE PRESENT CONTEXT…What is Jesus saying to us today?

  1. Jesus is clearly saying that He loves the Jewish people…How often I wanted to gather your children together as a hen protects her chicks beneath her wings.”
  2. Luke records that Jesus wept as he drew near to Jerusalem and said,  “How I wish today that you of all people would understand the way to peace. But now it is too late, and peace is hidden from your eyes.”
  3. As we have discussed, the Jews were not lovable people and yet Jesus loved them. I think we have a billboard here for God’s supernatural love. It is call agape. I call it love from above. It is unlike any human love. All human loves are conditional but agape is unconditional. It is based on God’s character, not our performance. It is a powerful love because it flows from the Divine Will. He chooses to love us and there is nothing we can do about it. The Jews had Jesus crucified and He still loved them. He prayed for them as they hurled verbal abuses at Him while He was on the cross. Charles Wesley got it right….

Love divine, all loves excelling,
joy of heaven, to earth come down;
fix in us thy humble dwelling;
all thy faithful mercies crown!
Jesus thou art all compassion,
pure, unbounded love thou art;
visit us with thy salvation;
enter every trembling heart.


What about we Gentiles; does Jesus love us? According to John 3:16 He does, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes  in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.


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