Every year, the week before Easter, we find ourselves perched, if you will, on the Mount of Olives looking towards the holy city of Jerusalem, trying to imagine the view on the day of Jesus.
More than 2,000 years have passed, but the view is still there. Oh, generations have passed, a modern city rises around the temple mount where Herod’s temple once stood, but it’s still there…the holy city.
Luke captures the moment best, I think, “When he said this he went forth, ascending to Jerusalem…” (from Jericho pointing west, 1,412 feet below the level from the sea… the lowest place on Earth… headed literally up to… up to 2,532 feet above sea level to Jerusalem).
Dr. Luke continues: “And it came to pass, when he drew near to Bethphage and Bethany, to the mountain called Olivet, that he sent two of his disciples, saying, ‘Go into the village opposite you, where on entering your home you will find a tied foal, which no one has ever sat on. Let him go and bring him here. And if someone asks you, ‘Why do you lose him?’ so you will say to him: ‘Because the Lord has need of it.’
“Those who had been sent therefore went and found everything as he had told them. But as they lost the colt, the owners said to them, ‘Why do you lose the colt?’ And they said, ‘The Lord needs him.’ Then they brought him to Jesus. And they threw their own clothes on the colt, and they made Jesus ride on him. And while he was going away, many spread their clothes on the way. Then, as he approached now from the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works which they had seen, saying: “Blessed be the King who comes to name of the Lord!’
“Peace in heaven and glory in the highest! And some of the Pharisees called out to him from the crowd: ‘Master, rebuke your disciples.’ But he answered and said unto them, ‘I tell you, if these were silent, the stones would immediately cry out.’ As he approached, he saw the city and wept over it, saying: ‘If you, too, had known, especially in this day of your life, the things that make your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For the days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and shut you in on all sides, and raze you and your children within you to the ground; and they will not leave stone upon stone in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation.
You see, Jesus was coming and they weren’t ready! The stones Jesus spoke of would fall into the hands of the Roman general Titus and his army in AD 70. The stones are still there, stacked on the sides of the walls of the old temple, I saw them.
In his commentary on Luke, Darrell L. Bock writes, “The nation is missing its moment. Peace with God is not possible for those who reject Jesus. Although this rejection produces the tragic death of Jesus, the national consequences of the people’s blindness are even more tragic and staggering. What follows is a “burning oracle of woe”…national sin will pay its price in judgment over covenant infidelity…The house of Israel will be desolate.
“A first-century Auschwitz awaits. Contrary to the 20th century version, where repugnant ethnic hatred brought death, the first century Jewish nation was itself catastrophized… By rejecting him, Israel chose the path of judgment. He missed the day and the moment.
As one writer said, you can see Jesus and yet never see him! The truth is, you can hear Jesus and not hear what he says! And in the case of many in Jerusalem, you can get closer to Jesus without even knowing him!
Biblically and historically, we can get a pretty good idea of what those watching this moment thought they knew, but what about Jesus? Have you ever thought about what Jesus was thinking? He was gazing at the most religious place on Earth, but he knew that religion was not enough.
Have you ever considered what Jesus saw? The multitudes of people, their hearts, their souls; Jesus saw those who would miss him! But think with me quickly about what Jesus knew… He knew that was what he came for!
They may not have known it, but we know here and now exactly why the Father left his Son hanging on the cross and why Jesus chose not to escape it. It is almost as if Jesus could hear the tearful praises of would-be believers sing: My sin – O, the bliss of that glorious thought – My sin – not in part, but all, Is nailed to the cross, and I Wear it no more, Praise the Lord, Praise the Lord, O my soul! You see, you were always on his mind!
Tim Throckmorton is the Midwest ministry director for the Family Research Council, which writes a weekly column for The Circleville Herald. The opinions of this column do not necessarily reflect those of the newspaper.