The Weeping King (Luke 19:28-44)

Leaders try hard not to cry in public. Instead, they seek to project a measure of strength and courage in difficult situations. They usually want to send a message that everything is under control. Crying just unnerves the people who have to watch it. Therefore, politicians and public figures try to stuff their tears and stifle their emotions. If, for some reason, they do ever cry in public, they strive to “leak a little,” not gush. 

As Jesus rode into Jerusalem on that first Palm Sunday, he cried openly in front of the masses. Luke 19:41 says he wept over the city, and the word for “wept” in the original means to sob or to wail. It was a great lament, not a little sniffle. But why was Jesus so upset? His answer was both bold and blunt: “because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you” (Luke 19:44). God came to his people in the person of Christ, but they did not recognize him and submit to his authority. Rather, they tried to leverage that authority for their own ends.

Luke’s account of Jesus’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem is a spiritually challenging passage—one that ultimately reminds us that to receive Jesus is to receive God, and to reject Jesus is to reject God. Knowing that some people would reject him at great cost to their own eternal well-being, Jesus wept for their souls. Indeed, his tears were an ominous sign that the week ahead would be a long and difficult one for him.

Sermon Resources:

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The Holy City: Lift Up Your Gates and Sing!

Palm Sunday worship is a glorious experience. As is often the case, I had trouble this morning getting through the opening hymn, “All Glory, Laud, and Honor,” without tears. It was doubly difficult this year because my pre-service playlist included “The Holy City,” which captures a glimpse of our glorious King and all that awaits the people of God. I can’t stop thinking about the message of this song, which started the waterworks, so here it is (in several different versions) for your encouragement.

(And, while I’m not a Mormon, I sympathize wholeheartedly with the soloist in the second version below trying to make it through this powerful piece without completely losing it.)

The Holy City

Stephen Adams, Frederick E. Weatherly

Last night I lay asleeping
There came a dream so fair
I stood in old Jerusalem
Beside the temple there
I heard the children singing
And ever as they sang
I thought the voice of angels
From heaven in answer rang
I thought the voice of angels
From heaven in answer rang
“Jerusalem, Jerusalem!
Lift up you gates and sing
Hosanna in the highest
Hosanna to your King!”

And then I thought my dream was changed
The streets no longer rang
Hushed were the glad hosannas
The little children sang
The sun grew dark with mystery
The morn was cold and chill
As the shadow of a cross arose
Upon a lonely hill
As the shadow of a cross arose
Upon a lonely hill
“Jerusalem, Jerusalem!
Hark! How the angels sing
Hosanna in the highest
Hosanna to your King!”

And once again the scene was changed
New earth there seemed to be
I saw the Holy City
Beside the tideless sea
The light of God was on its streets
The gates were open wide
And all who would might enter
And no one was denied
No need of moon or stars by night
Or sun to shine by day
It was the new Jerusalem
That would not pass away
It was the new Jerusalem
That would not pass away
“Jerusalem, Jerusalem!
Sing for the night is o’er
Hosanna in the highest
Hosanna for evermore”