Luke 19 gives us a powerful picture of Jesus making His final entry into Jerusalem. The image is of Christ approaching the city on a donkey with great throngs shouting His praises. He started at the Mount of Olives, and the closer He got to the city gate, the larger the crowds grew. Soon the people were casting down their garments before Him, waving palm branches, and crying, “He’s here! The hour has come for the King of Israel to arrive. Peace has come to Jerusalem. Finally, the kingdom is here!”
Why was there such loud rejoicing? “Because they thought that the kingdom of God should immediately appear” (Luke 19:11). In the people’s minds, Jesus heralded the arrival of God’s promised “kingdom on earth.”
Yet this didn’t mean they trusted Him as their Messiah. Their only thought was that God’s reign had begun: “Goodbye, Roman rule! There will be no more wars, because our king will rise up with a sword and cut down every enemy. We’re going to see peace in Jerusalem and in Israel, with no more bondage, no more food shortages. God has finally sent His expected king.”
No one on the scene that day expected what would happen next. As Jesus came down the mount and the multitudes shouted His praises, He looked out over Jerusalem—and broke down weeping. “When he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it” (Luke 19:41). Here was God Himself in flesh, weeping!
The reason for His tears? It was the people’s blatant unbelief. You may think, “But these crowds were singing praises to Him, shouting hosannas. That doesn’t sound like unbelief to me.” Yet Scripture tells us Jesus knew what was in men’s hearts.
Jesus saw the payday of unbelief coming. And He prophesied to that crowd, “The days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side, and shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of the thy visitation” (Luke 19:43–44, my italics).