Flashback Episode — Weeping While Others Cheer: Luke 19:28-44

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As we continue our journey focusing on the week leading up to the cross, we come to one of the most well known events in Jesus’ entire life, which was the point in time where He rode into Jerusalem on a young donkey.

While all the gospels describe Jesus riding into Jerusalem on a young donkey, only Luke’s gospel includes an interesting detail about this event and where Jesus had placed His focus. However, before we get to that, Jesus first needs to get the young donkey to ride on.

Let’s read about what happened from Luke’s gospel, chapter 19, using the New Living Translation. Starting in verse 28, Luke tells us that:

28 After telling this story, Jesus went on toward Jerusalem, walking ahead of his disciples. 29 As he came to the towns of Bethphage and Bethany on the Mount of Olives, he sent two disciples ahead. 30 “Go into that village over there,” he told them. “As you enter it, you will see a young donkey tied there that no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. 31 If anyone asks, ‘Why are you untying that colt?’ just say, ‘The Lord needs it.’”

32 So they went and found the colt, just as Jesus had said. 33 And sure enough, as they were untying it, the owners asked them, “Why are you untying that colt?”

34 And the disciples simply replied, “The Lord needs it.” 35 So they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their garments over it for him to ride on.

Pausing briefly, I always find it amazing that Jesus knew exactly what would happen, and that He tells the two disciples exactly what to say when faced with the donkey’s owners who probably thought they were catching two not-so-bright thieves. While we don’t know any of the back story regarding this donkey colt, from how the owners’ responded, we can tell that these owners are willing to trust God with their stuff.

This portion of our event also reassures us that when faced with difficult circumstances surrounding what God has asked us to do, we can trust that He will give us the words to say to bring about His purposes in the world.

Returning to our passage in verse 35,

 35 So they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their garments over it for him to ride on.

36 As he rode along, the crowds spread out their garments on the road ahead of him. 37 When he reached the place where the road started down the Mount of Olives, all of his followers began to shout and sing as they walked along, praising God for all the wonderful miracles they had seen.

38 “Blessings on the King who comes in the name of the Lord!
    Peace in heaven, and glory in highest heaven!”

39 But some of the Pharisees among the crowd said, “Teacher, rebuke your followers for saying things like that!”

40 He replied, “If they kept quiet, the stones along the road would burst into cheers!”

41 But as he came closer to Jerusalem and saw the city ahead, he began to weep. 42 “How I wish today that you of all people would understand the way to peace. But now it is too late, and peace is hidden from your eyes. 43 Before long your enemies will build ramparts against your walls and encircle you and close in on you from every side. 44 They will crush you into the ground, and your children with you. Your enemies will not leave a single stone in place, because you did not recognize it when God visited you.”

In Luke’s gospel, we discover that during the celebration of Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem, the Pharisees in the crowd had something to disagree with. Actually, this shouldn’t surprise us at all, except to say that it might be a little surprising to discover that there were Pharisees present in this situation. The fact that Pharisees were present in this event makes me think that Jesus likely had his own dedicated team of critics that followed Him wherever He went. I also wonder if some of these Pharisees were commissioned with the task of seeing where Jesus would be staying, just in case the religious leaders decided on a time to arrest Him.

However, this is not all Luke describes. While the crowd cheers for Jesus’ entrance, and the Pharisees sneer at the crowd glorifying Jesus as a coming King, we see a different response from Jesus Himself. Luke tells us that when the city comes into view, Jesus weeps for it.

There are only two places in the gospels where Jesus is recorded as weeping, and this is one of them. The other is when Lazarus was in the tomb and everyone else was crying about His death. While Jesus weeping over Lazarus’ death is significant in its own way, Jesus does something that turns that crowd’s tears into joy.

However, in this instance, there isn’t anything Jesus can do for the city He loves. Jesus knows that His death is the only way for the city’s survival, but more important than Jesus’ death is that the religious leaders must recognize and acknowledge who Jesus is. Jesus’ hands are tied as He realizes that nothing He can do will save the city of Jerusalem from facing destruction.

God offered salvation to His people through Jesus, but they chose to reject Him and this ultimately led to Jerusalem’s destruction when they rallied against Rome and ultimately failed.

In this event, we can learn that when we depend on God and lean on Him for guidance, He will teach us what to say, and He will bring us His peace. While Jesus wept when realizing that the city He loved would ultimately be destroyed, He still loved the city and the people living within its walls. Even if our own lives cause Jesus pain, He still loves each of us and He wants to help heal our hurts.

As we come to the end of another podcast episode, here are the challenges I will leave you with:

Be sure to always seek God first, and intentionally depend on Him for help facing the challenges that life brings our way. Know that the only place we can find true, lasting peace is through Jesus.

Also, always pray and study the Bible for yourself to grow closer to Jesus personally. While someone else can give you ideas to think about, never let your relationship with Jesus depend on anyone else. Praying personally and studying the Bible personally help grow your personal relationship with Him.

And as I end every set of challenges by saying in one way or another, never stop short of, back away from, or deviate away from where God wants to lead you to in your life with Him!

Flashback Episode: Year of the Cross – Episode 2: During Jesus’ ride to Jerusalem on a young donkey, Luke describes in his gospel how Jesus stops and weeps while everyone else is cheering. Discover some things we can learn from this whole donkey-ride event that we can apply in our lives over 2000 years later.

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