During the ministry of Jesus, the city of Jerusalem was experiencing a struggle. There was a spiritual battle going on between the religious ideas the people had become comfortable with and the demands of God’s powerful presence.
The words of Jesus penetrated the people with clear principles of God’s kingdom. Preaching frequently in the city and the temple, He presented God’s healing and delivering power; and the multitudes hearing Him were set free. Yet those who should have been most eager to hear the Gospel refused to accept God in their midst.
Coming down the Mount of Olives on a colt, Jesus approached the city that God called “the City of Peace,” Jerusalem. The people began to rejoice and shout praises to God for the mighty works they had seen. In an overwhelming demonstration of adulation, they laid their garments and palm branches in the pathway before Him. He received their praise as King, Possessor of heaven and earth, which He deserved. It was time to recognize that heaven’s royalty had come.
Amid this tremendous display, it became clear that Jerusalem as a whole had divided loyalties. They had learned to live religiously content without God. Their comfort and complacency blinded their eyes to what belonged to them.
Jesus looked upon the city of God’s people and began to weep because they had missed the season of God’s visitation in the flesh. Jesus was God’s mercy, peace, and power made available to them.
“Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it, 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. For days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side, and 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” (Luke 19:41-44 NKJV).
The very ones who should have known the Messiah, did not recognize God standing in their midst. Instead of embracing the Messiah, they rejected Him. And they missed the coming of the Holy Spirit and the birth of the Church.
By rejecting God’s visitation, the Israelites set their own destruction in motion. Jesus declared prophetically what the result of their calloused hearts would be (see Luke 19: 43,44). He foretold with pinpoint accuracy the events that would befall them.
In less than forty years the Romans besieged the city, cast a trench about it, and kept its inhabitants in on every side. Titus built a wall surrounding the city and cut off all hope of escape. He commanded his soldiers to “dig up the city,” so the entire city was leveled. It would be nearly 1900 years before the people would again pray at the Wailing Wall where Jesus had stood.
What was true of God’s city in those days can be true of His people today. There is a fresh breath of the Holy Spirit being breathed into the Body of Christ. As the Holy Spirit reaches out to us, we must welcome Him and embrace His ways with a willing heart. As we sense His promptings we must be quick to respond. When we hear His voice we cannot hesitate to obey or we too risk missing God’s visitation.