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Vol.  9  No. 8 August 2007  Page 3
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D. Gene WestIf You Had Known

By D. Gene West

    In Luke 19:28-44, we read of the Triumphant Entry into the city of Jerusalem. We all remember how, in fulfillment of prophecy, he rode on the colt of a donkey upon which no one had ever ridden; the people threw their clothing in his path and spread it with palm leaves according to Matthew’s account of the incident. The people broke forth in a loud anthem saying, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest.” The Pharisees, who by this time were determined that he should not live long on this earth, insisted that he should rebuke the crowd for praising him as they were, but the Lord refused to do that and told them that if the people did not praise him the stones would immediately cry out in praise of him. As Jesus continued to make his entry into the holy city in which God’s Temple was found, the Bible tells us he began to weep over her. While weeping, he addressed the ancient city of Jerusalem as if she were a person, saying, “If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes.” Then he began to prophesy of the downfall of Jerusalem telling this great city that her enemies would throw up an embankment around her and surround her on every side. Not only so, but her enemies were going to “level you, and your children within you, to the ground and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not know the time of your visitation.” The latter part of this prophecy, no doubt, refers to the destruction of Herod’s great, magnificent and beautiful Temple, since these are the words the Lord used in Matthew 24 regarding its destruction.

    The phrase that intrigues us, however, is “If you had known.” What was it that Jerusalem did not know that she should have that would have kept her from being destroyed had she known it? Jesus answered that question when he said, “the things that make for your peace!” Of what did the Lord speak when he used this language? He was telling this ancient and once holy city that if it had recognized and accepted him as Messiah and accepted his teaching regarding the nature of the kingdom, it would not have suffered the destruction that was soon to come upon it at the hands of the Romans. But the Jews had already decided the nature of the kingdom they wanted, and though, according to Matthew 21:33-46, they knew he was the Messiah, yet they said, “This is the heir. Come, let us kill him and seize his inheritance.” In order to show them what they had done, Jesus quoted Psalm 118:22-23 regarding the rejected stone (Christ) becoming the chief cornerstone. Also, in the Matthew text, Jesus prophesied, “Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a nation bearing the fruits of it” (Matthew 21:43). Jesus went on to say, in Matthew 21:44, “And whoever falls on this stone will be broken; but on whomever it falls, it will grind him to powder” (Matthew 21:44). By this he meant the one who fell upon the rejected Stone begging for mercy and salvation will be broken, humbled and subsequently healed spiritually, “but on whomever it falls, it will grind him to powder.” This is a reference to complete destruction. The chief priests and others understood precisely what Jesus was saying and to whom he was saying it, so they sought to lay hands on him that they might kill him.

    The things that would have made for the peace of Jerusalem would have been for it to have accepted our Lord as the Messiah. If it had known the teachings of the prophets the Jews stoned and killed; if they had known that God expected them to accept his Son as Messiah and that he wanted them to forget about a physical kingdom in which they would compete with the other kingdoms of the world. If they had turned their minds and hearts to the spiritual verities rather than the things of the world, they would not have been ground to powder when the Stone fell upon them in vengeance and wrath in the fall of the once great city, her religion and her Temple. Friends, Judaism as it was practiced in the Temple is gone forever and will never be restored. God saw to that when the Romans destroyed the once holy city.

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