O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you that kill the prophets, and stone them which are sent to you…
These are among the most touching words ever uttered by our Lord. They reveal his strong patriotism, his deep human affection, the greatness of the salvation he brought, and at the same time the frustration of the hopes which these things naturally raise, owing to the stubborn self-will of the Jews. Here is a lesson for all time.
I. THE GUILTY CITY.
1. No city was more privileged. Jerusalem was the favoured city of a favoured land. David, the great singer, celebrated her praises; David, the great king, raised her fortunes. But better than royal fame was her religious glory. Great prophets, such as Isaiah and Jeremiah, taught in her streets. More than once signal Divine providences helped her in direst necessity. Here was the temple of the Divine Presence. Finally the city was honoured by the coming of Christ.
2. No city was more sinful. When account is taken of her privileges, Jerusalem excels in guilt as she excels in favour. The most favoured people prove to be the most ungrateful and rebellious. She murders her best friends. She crowns her guilt by delivering her Christ up to death.
II. THE PITYING SAVIOUR. Jesus is grieved and loth to think of the doom of the wicked city.
1. It was his own city. Not his native city, but the capital of his land, and the royal city, to which he came as King (ch. 21:4, 5). Jesus was a patriot.
2. It was the city of God. Its ruin was like the ruin of God's own daughter. They who have once known God touch the heart of Christ with peculiar compassion when they lose their happy privilege.
3. It was a doomed city. Already with prophetic eye Jesus saw the Roman legions compassing it about. It lay as the prey ready for the eagle. The heart of Jesus grieves over the sinner's doom.
III. THE WONDERFUL SALVATION. By a homely and yet most touching illustration Jesus tells what he has longed to do for the city in its peril.
1. He comes to save. This is his great mission, and his salvation begins with "the house of Israel" (Matthew 15:24).
2. He is able to save. Jesus speaks with the utmost confidence. He can save a whole city; nay, we know he can save a whole world. No doubt, if Jerusalem had accepted Christ and his teaching, the mad revolt which called down the vengeance of Rome would have been prevented. But in his deeper work, as our Lord has redeemed many of the worst profligates, he has shown himself able to save all men.
3. He offers to save. The pathos of this wonderful utterance of Jesus lies in his own heartfelt desire and its disappointment. With long suffering patience he repeats his often-rejected offer. He stands at the door, and knocks.
IV. THE FINAL DOOM. The house is to be left desolate at last.
1. There is an end to the opportunity for escape. This has lasted long. Many were the occasions when Jesus would have welcomed the people of Jerusalem, and have extended to them his saving grace. But at last the end has come. The day of grace must be followed by the day of judgment.
2. Even Christ's desire to save may be frustrated. It is not enough to know that he yearns to save. Men may be lost now, as Jerusalem was lost.
3. Obstinate rejection of Christ will lead to ruin. Man's will may thus frustrate Christ's desire. Note: It was not for stoning the prophets, but for rejecting Christ's salvation, that Jerusalem was ultimately doomed. Christ can save from the worst sin; but none can be saved who wilfully reject him. - W.F.A.
Parallel VersesKJV: O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!
WEB: "Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets, and stones those who are sent to her! How often I would have gathered your children together, even as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you would not!