“And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, ‘Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you, because you did not know the time of your visitation.” Luke 19:41-44
Palm Sunday is considered a “triumphal” day! An entry of great excitement and joyful acclaim into the city of Jerusalem, the iconic city of the ages; the city of the future, as well. This was a day of Hallelujahs! A day of palm tree branches, waved by adoring crowds with boisterous fanfare! It was also a day, often missed and forgotten, in which Jesus wept. He cried real tears over the people in Jerusalem. He cried over all the people they represented in many other cities and towns and villages; all those who did not recognize “the time of their visitation”; the time the Savior came to them with the free offer of salvation.
What really is this “time of visitation” to you? What is Jesus saying when he speaks of “a time of visitation?” Acknowledging its life-necessary importance, and seeing it was being ignored, even spurned, and the consequences of that, caused anguish and tears in the Savior. As he came to the place on the road to the city where around a bend the entire city comes into view stretched out before him, he bursts into tears. I am sure this emotional response was lost on his disciples then, and the welcoming crowds as well. Jesus alone saw the immediate and long range future before him, and them. He saw the destruction of the magnificent temple. He saw the scattering of the people; dispersal throughout the known world, of those, that is, who survived the Roman onslaught.
“He came unto his own, and his own people did not receive him,” John tells us. He goes immediately on to say, “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1:11-13) This describes the time of visitation, a visitation by God to a man’s heart.
Does a real time of visitation come to everyone? Yes, is the answer of Scripture. Romans 1-2 declares all men are without any excuse, “For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them.” Do you think this is a true and clear conclusion? Among unbelievers, atheists, the willfully ignorant? Among Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Satanists, and the like? Among the curious, but unconvinced? Because Scripture clearly says, “who believed in his name,” and “no man comes to the Father except through him (Jesus Christ).”
This exclusive path to God, according to what is known as God’s Word, is through Jesus alone, even if you think this exclusivity is overtly discriminatory. It is simply a stated fact undeniably taught throughout Scripture, Genesis to Revelation. And the Scripture itself demands exclusive authority to be the real words of God, whether or not it is believed.
Jesus weeps real tears because he recognizes there are those who willfully ignore his “visitation” to their consciousness, to their spirit, in any time of their life. And there is a time such as this, the Scripture says, for everyone, even if our mind cannot comprehend it. We do not know with everyone how the wonders of creation communicate to mankind and what impression it makes on them that there is a Creator, and that this Creator has sent a Savior who can and will save from sin, sin of which all men are fully aware.
You need to feel the Savior’s emotion empathetically, and, if you are united to him, join him in it. This Palm Sunday in just a few days remember again Jesus not only entered Jerusalem triumphantly, but also with hard tears. You and I need to feel his emotion and cry also for a world that will not recognize they have been visited by the Savior, and their believing response to him is the most important thing in their world. Cry for this world, asking continually for its redemption, until all tears are wiped away.
“He came from his blest throne, salvation to bestow; but men cared not, and none the long-for Christ would know. But oh, my Friend, my Friend indeed, who at my need his life did spend.”
(2nd verse of Samuel Crossman’s hymn, “My Song is Love Unknown,” 1624-1683)