First Presbyterian Church of Blackwood
21 E. Church Street
Blackwood, NJ 08012
Sermon Notes (Palm Sunday, April 02, 2023)
Rev. Dr. Mouris A. Yousef, Pastor
“A Visit to Jerusalem on Palm Sunday!”
Zechariah 9:9-12; Luke 19:28-44
Palm Sunday is the day the Church of Christ around the globe gets to remember the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. This was the fulfilment of Zechariah's prophecy given over 500 years before Christ. Much can be said about the events of Palm Sunday, but what I would like to do today is to take you in a journey to Jerusalem. Let’s go back in time 2000 years.
It was a very busy morning in Jerusalem. You can tell, it was the Passover week. The narrow streets of the city were crowded; the Temple was no exception. Jewish visitors from all over the place filled the nearby hotels and motels. Just outside of Jerusalem, a big crowd of people were following Rabbi Yeshua, as people called Him. Rabbi Yeshua, or Jesus of Nazareth, was a well-known Rabbi, a compassionate healer who has shown God’s mercy and grace like no other. You can even hear the crowd shouting out, “Hosanna!” and waving their palm branches in the air.
Jesus is approaching the city. He goes down the road of the Mount of Olives, then he began to descend into the Valley of Kidron where He had a panoramic view of the entire city. As Jesus looked down on the city, He burst into tears. The King of Glory burst into tears!
This cry wasn’t a normal cry. The Greek word Luke uses for weeping is “klaio” which means “intense sobbing.” It is the kind of weeping which suddenly seizes you that you lose control and cry out loud. How come that in the midst of all the cheers come tears? Jesus was so overcome with deep sorrow and grief in His heart, that tears began to flow from His eyes, and He openly and verbally expressed His emotional lamentation over the city. I wonder if Jesus would do the same looking at us today?
What was Jesus weeping for? Why did Jesus weep at the city He loved? Fortunately, we don’t have to speculate. The Scripture passage in Luke 19 gives us at least two reasons of Christ’s weeping:
First: The Missed Opportunities
Luke tells us in Luke 19:41-42, “As he came near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, “If you, even you, had only recognized on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes.” The people of Israel missed a great opportunity. “If you, even you, had only recognized on this day the things that make for peace! The people of Israel missed the peace that was right in front of them; right in their midst. They missed God’s shalom.
The Prince of Peace was standing right in front of them, and they missed Him. They did not acknowledge Jesus as the King of all Kings, the God of all gods. Instead, they simply viewed Him as a human king who would lead them into victory. Peace was hidden from your eyes. They people of Israel missed many opportunities.
Second: The Future Judgement
Luke continues to say these words in Luke 19:43-44, “Indeed, the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up ramparts around you and surround you, and hem you in on every side. They will crush you to the ground, you and your children within you, and they will not leave within you one stone upon another; because you did not recognize the time of your visitation from God.”
Missed opportunities lead to future judgement. Christ’s pronounced judgement was fulfilled in 70 AD. In 70 AD, the Roman General Titus came, and he brought thousands of troops with him. He surrounded Jerusalem, and the troops waited till the Jews were famished from starvation. Then, they rushed in and slaughtered thousands of Jews. Not one stone was left upon another, and the city was burned to the ground. Seeing that day of judgement, Jesus cried over Jerusalem.
Jesus looked upon the city that He loved and wept because He knew the future judgment was coming. He told the crowds a future judgment was coming because, “you did not know the time of your visitation.” The word visitation in Greek is “episcopas.” The word “episcopas” comes from the Greek military community where from time to time, the General would drop in unannounced and review and inspect the troops to see if they were battle-ready. If the troops were battle-ready, they received the praise of the General. If they were not prepared, the General would bring a hard fist of judgment.
Jesus wept over the city of Jerusalem because they weren’t ready when the General came to town. They were not prepared and missed out on worshipping and following Him. God in flesh was standing right before their eyes, and they missed it! Because they missed the General and weren’t ready, a future judgment would come.
Friends, Jesus, the General, is visiting with us today. His visit, “his episcopas”, is full of grace and love. His arms are open to welcome and to embrace us. Are we willing to go under His wings before the Day of Judgement comes? Are we ready for the General to come? Are we missing the peace that is in front of us? As we journey together toward the events of the Holy Week this week, I hope you will recognize the time of God’s visitation. Embrace the things that make for your peace. Open your heart for God’s shalom. Let Christ mend the brokenness of your life. Receive the Lord’s wholeness. In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
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