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Divine Tears

Published: 3 weeks ago- 24 March 2024
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As you’ll know, tears are a powerful thing.

As my family continues to grow, tears are becoming a much more frequent thing in my house. Whether it’s my tears, or any of the three girl’s tears, there are just tears everywhere! Didn’t get what you want? Tears. Hit your head on that same old table? Tears. Wrong Bluey episode? Tears. Tired? Tears. No milk for the morning coffee. Tears Frustrated? Tears. Hungry? Tears.

Tears are a very powerful thing, aren’t they? They’re powerful because “tears speak”.1 They tell us stuff. They can say “I’m hurt” “I’m sad” “I’m joyful” “I’m angry” “I’m relieved” “I’m dissatisfied”. More often than not, tears are a reliable voice to the things that exist deep within. Tears tell us something. So, when we see tears, we naturally ask the question: “Why are you crying?” “What’s wrong?” “Why are you upset?”

Tears speak.

Over the coming days, we’ll be hearing Luke’s account of the Easter story. This morning, we’re going to be looking at Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem. Here in Luke 19:28-44, we’ll see the King come with tears. As spectators to this significant moment, we’ll ask the question: “Jesus, why are you crying?”

And what we’ll discover is that Jesus’ tears speak. They tell us something. They tell us something about Jesus himself, about his people, and even about us. His tears have something to say to us this morning.

So, here’s the story.

1. Divine Royalty

For some time now in Luke’s account, Jesus has resolutely set out for Jerusalem. He has turned his face toward the city and has been journeying toward it. And along the way, Jesus has been telling his followers that this must happen. That it is necessary for Jesus to enter Jerusalem, to suffer many things, to be rejected, to be killed, and to be raised on the third day (cf. Luke 9:22; 13:33). In verses 28-40, Luke brings a whole heap of small details together to show that Jesus is divine royalty. By emphasising the route, the transport, the search, the cloaks, the praise, and even the opposition-Luke casts Jesus as the promised king who would deliver his people from its enemies-the one who’d make peace.

a. The route (v28-29)

Luke begins with the route. In verses 28-29, we find that the Lord Jesus begins his journey to Jerusalem via the Mount Olives.

Just as we might pay attention to the travel itinerary of the royal family, Luke wants us to do the same here with Jesus.

On two occasions in this passage, Luke directs our attention to the fact that Jesus’ travels near “the Mount of Olives” (v29; v37). This is significant because in the book of Zechariah, it was predicted that the Lord who would rescue Israel from her enemies would come to Jerusalem via the Mount of Olives (Zechariah 14).2 You see, the very route which Jesus takes suggests that he is coming to Jerusalem as its promised King-divine royalty.

b. The transport (v29-30)

But Luke doesn’t just want us to notice the travel itinerary. He also wants us to notice Jesus’ method of travel. In verses 29-30, Jesus prepares his transport for his journey to Jerusalem.

Just as the royal family might consider their mode of transport, Luke depicts Jesus doing the same thing.

But, instead of requesting to ride a horse (which was associated with wealth, power, war, and victory), the Lord Jesus opts for a more humble and peaceful approach.3 He sends two of his disciples to retrieve a colt, the foal of donkey, which belonged to someone else.

It were as if the royals were to arrive at a significant event in a Toyota Corolla instead of a Ferrari. And, on top of that, it were as if they had to borrow the Corolla from a person in a neighbouring suburb.

You see, it’s a fascinating request. But, behind the choice for a colt is an echo back Zechariah 9-a prophecy about Israel’s king coming humbly to Jerusalem on a colt to bring victory over its enemies. You see, even the transportation method suggests that the Lord Jesus is coming to Jerusalem as its promised King-divine royalty.

c. The search (v30-35)

Now-Luke highlights the route, the transportation method, and then he gives even greater attention to “the search” for this transportation method. In verses 30-35, Jesus foretells every detail of the two disciple’s search for this colt. He says that: They will go to the village ahead, find the colt, untie the colt, and they will be questioned (for what appears to be thievery), but they will be understandably let go with the colt in hand when they simply say “the Lord needs it”.

In many ways, this feels like a bit of a prank, doesn’t it!? It’s the kind of search you would send your sibling on-yes, yes, you go to Blackwood St, you take that Corolla in front of Hobby Lane, and if anyone questions you-just say “my sibling said I could take it”. It seems like a prank!

So, you might be wondering: “Why is Jesus doing this?” “Why is Luke highlighting this?”. Well, it’s not a prank. This story is here to remind us of the Lord Jesus’ power and authority as King.

Whilst Jesus will enter Jerusalem on a humble colt, this does not suggest that the Lord Jesus has no power. No, no-the Lord Jesus is extremely powerful. I mean, just in this story Jesus refers to himself as “the Lord” (the God of Israel) (v31; v34); Jesus also has the power to predict the circumstances of others, such that the disciples “found [the colt] just as Jesus had told them” (v32); Jesus is even depicted as one who can lord it over another lord by using what belongs to them for his own purposes (v33-34).4 And, Jesus might even be showing us what kind of effect his rule will have-he will be the kind of King who unties things, sets things loose, retrieves and redeems things.5 You see, the search (with all its details) suggests that the Lord Jesus is coming to Jerusalem as its promised King-divine royalty.

d. The cloaks (v36)

Then, after the disciples bring this colt to Jesus and sit him on it, Jesus begins his approach. In verse 36, Jesus rides toward Jerusalem and receives a royal welcome.

Just as we might role out the red carpet for the royal family, the crowds of disciples do a similar thing.

As Jesus rides along, the disciples take off their outer garments and spread them on the road for the colt to tread on. This act is one which echoes the kind of welcome which was reserved for the kings of Israel. In 2 Kings 9, King Jehu is anointed with oil and declared to be the King of Israel. When those around him acknowledge his position, they take off their outer-garments for Jehu to walk on.6 You see, the spreading of cloaks suggests that, like King Jehu, the Lord Jesus is the King-divine royalty.

e. The praise (v37-38)

But it’s not just the disciples’ cloaks which point to Jesus’ royalty, it’s also the praise which resounds from the disciple’s mouths. In verses 37-38, the crowds of disciples erupt in praise to God for the power which Jesus has displayed in his ministry.

Just as any royal approach is met with praise, honour, and glory for the power and might of a king or queen, so also here for Jesus.

The disciples proclaim “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord” “Peace in heaven and glory in the highest”. This is a royal rumble for Jesus. Using parts of Psalm 118-a song which was typically reserved for the enthronement of the king of Israel-the disciples declare Jesus to be the King-divine royalty.7

f. The opposition (v39-40)

But whilst the disciples make this royal rumble, there are some mood killers present who are attempting to shut down the party. In verses 39-40, Jerusalem’s religious leaders (called “Pharisees”) command Jesus to “rebuke” and to “disapprove” of his followers’ actions.8

The Pharisees are somewhat like any parent who shouts to their teenager “Turn that music down!”. Mood killers.

The Pharisee’s are mood killers. Jerusalem’s religious leaders effectively demand Jesus to silence or cancel his disciples… … because-in their eyes, this royal rumble is reserved for a true king, not Jesus… … because-in their eyes, these are blasphemous claims if given to Jesus. This is the beginning of Jerusalem’s resistance (a resistance which will only grow). Mood killers.

But, despite their attempt to kill the mood, Jesus says that their attempts are pointless. If the crowds of disciples don’t give a royal rumble, then the earth’s rocks will. Jesus is effectively saying “They are right, I am divine royalty, I am Israel’s king-you can’t shut them up, you can’t cancel them-bring it on!”. Jerusalem’s resistance to Jesus, the opposition, is another indication that the Lord Jesus has come as King.

In this scene, the Lord Jesus is depicted as divine royalty who will bring peace. By emphasising all these small details-the route, the transport, the search, the cloaks, the praise, and even the opposition-Luke casts Jesus as the royal one who comes to Jerusalem to make peace.

But… … what will Jesus do when he enters Jerusalem? Will Jesus bring violence against Israel’s oppressors, the Roman Empire? Will Jesus kill those who do not want him as their king? Will Jesus bring destruction upon this Jerusalem resistance?

Well, as you know, Jesus doesn’t do any of that…

2. Divine Tears

In verses 41-44, Luke depicts Jesus, not as the King who wages war, but as the King who weeps. These are divine tears.

a. The tears (v41)

In verse 41, the Lord Jesus enters Jerusalem. As Jesus sees the city, and as the noise from the crowd echoes with this muddy of praise and rebuke-“Blessed is the King!” “Jesus, silence them!”… as all this goes on… tears begin to fall. The Lord Jesus weeps over Jerusalem. Jesus, weeps. I mean, what sort of King is this?! The one who has every right to yell, to rebuke, to wage war… he weeps… in plain sight…

So, we ask: “Jesus, why are you weeping?”.

b. The reason for the tears (v42-44)

In verses 42-44, Luke tells us. Jesus says:

“I weep because they do not recognise what makes peace.”

“I weep because the days will come when this city is turned to rubble.” “

“I weep because they do not recognise the day of God’s coming”

Jesus lets his emotions pour out as tears… … because he is saddened, grieved, and aching (aching!) over his people’s hard hearts. Jesus weeps because of Jerusalem’s unwillingness to recognise who He is and what brings peace.9 Jesus weeps because his people think that it is necessary for the Christ to wage war, instead of suffering, dying, and rising. And Jesus weeps because this spiritual blindness will result in the siege and destruction of Jerusalem some years later in 70AD.

Divine royalty weeps over his people’s hard hearts. And in the coming days, we’ll see this in Luke’s account… … a people who won’t recognise that Jesus is truly their “Lord” and their “God” (cf. Luke 1:68) and that “the path to peace” (cf. Luke 1:77-79) comes through a cross, not through power.

In this scene, the Lord Jesus is depicted not as the King who wages war, but as the King who weeps for his people. Tears flow from Jesus’ eyes because his people’s eyes do not recognise him and what makes peace. He weeps for those “who will soon shout “Crucify him!””.10

3. His tears speak to us

This morning, Jesus’ tears are speaking. I wonder what they’re saying to you?

In 2015, Maurice Mikkers started on a quest to turn tears into works of art. Mikkers captures the beauty of tears by crystalizing and subsequently photographing them underneath a microscope. The results are stunning works of art that have been featured by, Business Insider, National Geographic, and many more. But, what you need to know is that Mikker’s started this project because he believed that “Every tear has a hidden story”.11 Tears say something.

As we consider Christ’s tears, I wonder what they’re saying to you?

In some sense, I think that Jesus’ tears speak of the entire human tragedy.12 His tears speak not only of Jerusalem’s inability, but ours.13 His tears speak of our hard hearts, our unbelief, our rejection. His tears speak of our efforts to find peace-alternatives. Of how we chase peace-substitutes. Of how we attempt “to calm the raging heart with sex, relationships, money, lifestyle, alcohol, and power”.14 His tears speak of our unwillingness to declare Jesus as “our Lord” and “our God”. His tears speak of our sin. They speak of our tragedy.

In another sense, Jesus’ tears speak of the right response to evil. A Christ-like response to sin, unbelief, and evil-begins with grief, with lament, and even the shedding of tears. Our evil and our city’s evil-should be met with tears. The unbelief that we see in others-should be met with tears. And when we’re saddened by our sin, or by the sin of others, or by our city’s sin-this is utterly Christ-like. When we shed tears over sin, we shed tears with Christ. They speak of the right response to evil.

Finally, Jesus tears speak of something truly stunning-they speak of Christ’s heart. Not only do Jesus’ tears speak of our tragedy and the Christ-like response to our tragedy-they also speak of His tender heart for us. His tears speak of his sorrow, his grief, his compassion-not for himself but for others. His tears speak of his conviction to bring us true peace. His tears speak of his immense love which will soon lead him to a cross. Christ’s tears say something of the depths of his heart for us.15 And that should just stun us…

This morning, some of us might be doubting these tears. We might be thinking: “I don’t need these tears” “These tears are misguided” “I have no such inability” “Such pity is unnecessary”. If that’s you, can I say: look to Jesus’ tears-they were necessary.

Or this morning, there might be some of us who are getting a bit numb to the sin and evil in life. We might be getting a bit complacent, a bit too comfortable, a bit unmoved by sin and its affects. If that’s you, can I say: look to Jesus’ tears-weep with Him.

Or this morning, there might be some of us who are skeptical of these tears. We might be thinking: “Would Jesus really weep for me?” “Would he really care so much, even today?” “Is this really his heart?”. If that’s you, look to Jesus’ tears-“he wept for us”.16


Divine royalty came to Jerusalem with tears. The King didn’t wage war… … no, the King wept. And His tears speak. They tell us something of our condition, something of the right response to sin, and something of his heart for us. His tears should bring us to tears. His tears should stun us. His tears should comfort us. His tears begin to show us something of why Easter is so necessary.

This week I came across these words (from an old hymn) which sum up a lot of what we’ve heard today/tonight. We’ll finish with this:

Did Christ weep over sinners,
And shall our cheeks be dry?
Let floods of repentant grief
Burst forth from every eye.
The Son of God in tears
The wondering angels see;
Be astonished, O my soul;
He shed those tears for thee.”.17

1 Rutledge, The Undoing of Death, Chapter 1.

2 Garland, Luke, Chapter 60.

3 Garland, Luke, Chapter 60.

4 Garland, Luke, Chapter 60.

5 Garland, Luke, Chapter 60.

6 Garland, Luke, Chapter 60.

7 Garland, Luke, Chapter 60.

8 BDAG, 384.

9 Garland, Luke, Chapter 60.

10 Rutledge, The Undoing of Death, Chapter 1.

12 Rutledge, The Undoing of Death, Part One.

13 Garland, Luke, Chapter 60.

14 Anyabwile, Exalting Jesus in Luke, Chapter x.

15 Ortlund, Gentle and Lowly, X.

16 Rutledge, The Undoing of Death, Chapter 1.