O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Mt. 23:37.
A reader asks: "Will you please re-explain this passage?" I am happy to do that because it is an important and interesting passage which has often been misinterpreted. Apparently, I explained the passage in an earlier issue, but that was long ago and it will not hurt to look at the passage once again. Note that a parallel passage is found in Luke 13:34.
In the last article, I referred rather in detail to Gal. 4:21-27 because that passage speaks of Jerusalem and her children, just as the Lord does in this passage in Matthew. There is, Paul says, a Jerusalem which is from below, which is in bondage with her children. That is the Jerusalem which the Lord addresses in Mt. 23:37.
There is also a Jerusalem which is above, which brings forth free children who are sons and daughters of God almighty. Of the children of that Jerusalem Jesus also speaks. But as I pointed out earlier that Jesus makes a sharp distinction between Jerusalem and Jerusalem's children. Jerusalem is condemned, and of it Jesus says: "Your house is left unto you desolate" (vs. 38). But Jerusalem's children Christ desires to save. He does not say, nor does He intend to say that He desires to save Jerusalem; it is rather her children that are the objects of our Savior's love and compassion.
Let it be understood at the very outset that these children of Jerusalem whom Christ desires to save are also surely saved. They were saved in Christ's earthly ministry. Among them were the 11 apostles, Mary, Mary Magdalene, Mary the sister of Martha, Martha, Lazarus, Nicodemus, Joseph of Arimathea, and the Jews who believed in the Lord. 120 of them were gathered together in the upper room on Pentecost.
Among Jerusalem's children who were saved on or after Pentecost were the 3000 who were converted and baptized under the preaching of the apostle Peter. And also among the children of Jerusalem who were saved were those multitudes who, subsequent to Pentecost, were added to the church. These are directly Jerusalem's children because they are the remnant according to the election of grace from Judah itself.
But, in a yet broader sense of the word, and following Paul's direction in Gal. 4:26, Jerusalem's children are all the elect throughout the entire new dispensation, gathered by Christ, taken under the wings of His protecting care, born out of Jerusalem which is above, and becoming by a wonder of grace, the bride of Christ, descending out of heaven (Rev. 21:1,2). But the question remains: Why does Jesus say in this text that He desires to save Jerusalem's children? Why does He not say that, in fact, He does save them?
There is a good reason for this. Jesus means to say that it is His will and the purpose for which He came into the world to save Jerusalem's children. But He met opposition at every turn. That is, the wicked Jews not only themselves refused to believe in Jesus, but they did everything in their power to keep others from believing in Jesus.
Think of how they cast the man born blind whom Jesus healed out of the synagogue (John 9:34) and how they threatened to excommunicate anyone who did believe in Jesus (John 9:22). Think of how they threatened Nicodemus when he stood up for some measure of justice before the Sanhedrin (John 7:50-52).
It is a terrible sin to refuse to believe in Christ. But it is a yet more terrible sin to do all in one's power to attempt to prevent others from believing in Christ. This was the sin of the Jews. And, if I may add a word here, this is the sin of those who believe not the truth of the sovereignty of God and who do what they can to prevent others from believing that doctrine.
One more question needs answering. I mentioned it in an earlier article. It is this: Why did Jesus weep over Jerusalem? Is not this itself proof that Jesus desired to save Jerusalem? The answer to that question is an emphatic No.
The reason why Jesus was weeping over Jerusalem was because of the preeminent position which the city had occupied over the centuries. It had been built by David and Solomon under God's direction to be a city beautiful for situation, a city which in all its glory was the city in which God dwelt. It was the symbol of Israel, God's chosen people to whom pertained the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises (Rom. 9:5). In their terrible wickedness the Jews had made the city an instrument of sin, a spiritual wasteland, a city devoted to the destruction of Christ. It was the opposite of all that God had originally made it.
Jesus wept because of what that city was once. For the same reason Jesus cleansed the temple, for it was a picture of His body, and the Jews had made it a den of thieves. After all, the type of Christ ought to be as near the reality as possible. And Jerusalem, all of whose institutions pointed ahead to Christ, was now an apostate city which killed the prophets and stoned them that were sent to her. And it added this above all that it barred the way of the city's children to come to Christ. That is monstrous! The city which pictured Christ in every detail killed those who believed in Christ! No wonder Jesus wept.
But Christ gathered these children. He is the almighty Lord Who gathers, defends and preserves His church throughout every generation.
- Volume: 7
- Issue: 20
Prof. Herman Hanko (Wife: Wilma)
Ordained: October 1955
Pastorates: Hope, Walker, MI - 1955; Doon, IA - 1963; Professor to the Protestant Reformed Seminary - 1965
Emeritus: 2001Website: www.sermonaudio.com/search.asp?speakeronly=true&currsection=sermonsspeaker&keyword=Prof._Herman_Hanko
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