Luke 19:41, 42
And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it,…
Did Jesus Christ grieve over Jerusalem as a patriot over his own country? Was there an element of patriotic sorrow in that touching and tearful lament? Did he love that land any the more because, as concerning the flesh, he was the Son of David, was born at Bethlehem, and regarded the Jews as his fellow-citizens? The idea is open to one objection. To be a patriot seems to put a man under limitation. To love our own country more than others is to love others less than our own. We shrink from associating with him anything that even looks like partiality or partisanship. On the other hand, we must take care that we do not lose the human in our desire to preserve the Divine. Might not the same consideration be urged against our Lord cherishing a peculiar regard and affection for his mother, his sisters, his brothers, his personal friends? But who can doubt that there was especial love in his heart for these? There was then, probably, something of patriotic grief in those tears of Christ, an additional pang in his heart, as he thought that it was Jerusalem itself, the city round which so many associations gathered, whose guilt and doom stood in clear, sad vision before him. However that may be, he felt deep compassion as he looked forward to -
I. THE FUTURE OF THE HOLY LAND. We speak of the land or country, though it was the city of Jerusalem over which he wept. But in the sense in which "Paris is France" Jerusalem was Judaea, was Israel itself. It was the strength, the light, the glory, of the land; it was the centre to which all the inhabitants looked and journeyed; it was the source of the people's habits and beliefs. The capital taken, everything was well-nigh gone, the fate of the country was settled. Concerning this people, this nation, Jesus Christ felt, as he beheld the city:
1. That it had been enriched with peculiar privilege.
(1) Commencing with a signal and glorious deliverance from bondage;
(2) continued with the granting of a Law and a system admirably fitted to save them from surrounding superstitions and impurities;
(3) multiplied by the coming of psalmist and of prophet with inspiring song and elevating speech and life, uplifting their imagination and cleansing their conscience;
(4) enhanced by the strong and severe, but yet kind and merciful, discipline through which they were made to pass;
(5) culminating in the presence, the teaching, the life, of him, in whom One wiser than Solomon, mightier than David, devouter than Samuel, nobler than Elijah and John, "was there."
2. That it was charged with a high and sacred mission. It was designed by God to be the depository and guardian of his Divine truth, to hold fast and to hold high those great verities which are the strength, the life, and the glory of our manhood. Just what part it was to have played, and what exact service it would have rendered our race had it been loyal and true, may be questioned by us. But it would undoubtedly have played a very great part, and been, as a nation, the great factor in the restitution of mankind.
3. That it had now missed its chance, and was hastening to its doom.
(1) The Hebrew faith had become a hollow formality, a mere ritual, from which true reverence, love, charity, earnestness, were all absent; and
(2) the nation was in the very act of rejecting and was about to slay its Messiah, thus going down into the darkest crime and then going on to the saddest disaster. We glance at -
II. THE FUTURE OF OUR OWN COUNTRY. There is no little parallelism between Judaea and England.
1. God has enriched our land with peculiar privileges. We have
(1) a large share of religious liberty;
(2) a good measure of spiritual enlightenment, not indeed without some dark shadows of ignorance and superstition;
(3) numerous and strong organizations covering the land, whose function is to teach, to guide, to guard, to rescue, and redeem. May we not say, "He hath not dealt so with any nation; as for his statutes and commandments, they have not known them" as we have known them?
2. God has given us a high and a great mission to perform. Responsibility goes with privilege; it is, indeed, the obverse side of the same thing. We have not only to present to his view "a holy nation" within our own borders, to raise our own community to the height of Christian knowledge, of social purity, of national well-being in all its forms; but also to diffuse the light of Divine truth far and wide, and to make our influence tell for peace, righteousness, and truth in every quarter of the globe.
3. We have to consider whether we are declining that mission or are fulfilling it. That is's question which cannot be determined bey public professions; nor by the number or character of our sanctuaries; nor by t number or constitution of our Churches. It can only be determined by the actual spiritual and moral condition of our people, of the multitudes and millions of our citizens; and by the earnestness and devotedness of Christian men and women in the field of sacred work. By these criteria we stand or fall. - C.
Parallel VersesKJV: And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it,