The Christian life is a life of abounding joy in the Lord Jesus Christ. We’re to rejoice in the Lord always. I believe in a life of joy.
However, the Christian life is also one of tears—a life of a broken heart. Solomon wrote, “There is a time to laugh and a time to weep.” In keeping with the urgency of this hour, in America we need to be weeping.
Jesus was a man of abounding joy, yet He was also a man of tears. He wept in sympathy at the grave of Lazarus. He wept in agony in the Garden of Gethsemane. He wept tears of urgency on the Mount of Olives. His followers too should shed tears of sympathy, agony, and urgency because of the day in which we live.
Jesus had a heart for people. He loved people. In the last week of His life, we find Him in tears. He knew what lay ahead…not just His crucifixion, but the future for those who rejected God’s offer of salvation.
Luke 19:37 recounts the scene on Palm Sunday. Entering Jerusalem for His last week on earth, He comes over the brow of the Mount of Olives. About halfway down, while people are shouting “Glory to God, hallelujah, amen,” Jesus stops and begins to weep (the Greek word means openly, convulsively, heaving in sorrow) over Jerusalem.
And when He was come nigh, even now at the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen, saying, “Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord; peace in heaven, and glory in the highest.”…He…beheld the city, and wept over it, saying, “If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things that belong unto thy peace! But now they are hid from thine eyes, for the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side, and shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another, because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation.” And He went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold therein, and them that bought, saying unto them, “It is written, My house is the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.” Luke 19:37-46
Three things caused Him to weep—and they ought to cause us to weep. Again, I believe in joy, but I believe we need to take time out for tears.
Jesus wept because of their superficial religion. They’re praising God, but in a few days the same crowd would be saying “Crucify Him.” As He stopped, Jesus looked down upon that magnificent temple. As the sun would come over the brow of the Mount of Olives and shine upon that temple, it was a breathtaking sight—standing like a mountain of snow. It was indeed the house of God, but it had become a den of thieves. No wonder Jesus wept. He said, “Many will say unto Me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Thy name? And in Thy name have cast out devils? And in Thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, depart from Me, ye that work [look at this] iniquity. I never knew you” (Matthew 7:22)
He called their false praying, their false preaching, their false power, their false performance “iniquity.” Not merely useless, but iniquitous.
Jesus would weep over our superficial religion in America. Most Americans do not need religion; they need to turn from religion to Christ.
Jesus wept because of their passing opportunity. If thou hadst known… thou knewest not the time of thy visitation.” (Luke 19:41) “If you only knew the opportunity you have right now.” They should have known. It was harvest time. But they were blind to it, deaf to it. The Son of God was there, and they were blind to blessing and deaf to danger.
God has harvest times, but harvest times pass. They don’t last forever. Jeremiah, the weeping prophet, wept like Jesus. Jeremiah warned his people about God’s coming judgment, but the good times were rolling. Nobody listened; they laughed him to scorn. But the day came when the Babylonian army surrounded Jerusalem, cut off the people from their fields of ripening food, and laid siege to Jerusalem. Starvation stalked the city. When Jeremiah saw the harvest in the fields rotting and people inside the city starving, he said, “The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved” (8:20). It was too late. As in Noah’s day, there was a season of opportunity. When a harvest is neglected, it passes—then judgment comes.
We have more opportunities, more ability to preach, more tools, than any generation ever had, but we are letting this harvest pass.
I marvel at the patience God has had with God-blessed America. I marvel that the wrath of God has not yet descended. I wonder when it is going to happen and how quickly it will happen.
Opportunity is not all that will pass. Holy Spirit conviction passes. Don’t get the idea that anyone can just saunter into the presence of God. Jesus said, “No man can come unto Me except the Father, which hath sent Me, draw him” (John 6:44). And “My Spirit will not always strive with a man”(Gen. 6:3). The Holy Spirit can be so neglected, so insulted, that He ceases to strive.
“Seek ye the Lord while He may be found; call ye upon Him while He is near” (Isaiah 55:6). This was their golden opportunity. Jesus said, “If you only knew the things that belong to you in this your day.”
Friend, this is your day! This is your opportunity! Life passes and it passes quickly. If you’re going to be saved, the only time you’re going to be saved is in this life. The fact of death is certain. The time of death is uncertain. There are souls in hell who would give a million worlds like this one to have the opportunity some of you have right now not only to get saved but to be soul winners, to serve the Lord Jesus Christ. All the souls you’ll ever win for all eternity, you win this side of eternity.
Jesus wept because of their smoldering judgment. “For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast up a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side, and lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another, because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation” (v.43).
Looking 35 short years into the future, Jesus saw Titus and the Roman army coming against Jerusalem! They crucified Jews until there were no more trees left in the forest to crucify people with. That beautiful temple that had become a den of thieves was leveled to the ground. Historians estimate one million Jews died in the siege. Jesus sat upon that little colt on the Mount of Olives, looking down upon that city, heartbroken. “O, people of Jerusalem, if you only knew.”
Our nation is ripe for judgment. Without a Holy Ghost revival, God has warned, “He being often reproved and hardeneth his neck shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy” (Proverbs 19:1). The answer is not in Washington but in God’s house with God’s people.
Weep over lost souls. Live a life of joy, but take time out for tears. “He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.” (Psalm 126:6)
May God forgive a dry-eyed church in a hell-bent world. You have lost family members, lost neighbors, business associates that are superficially religious. They have an opportunity they’re oblivious to. Judgment for them and for America may be much closer than we realize.
Not everyone will be saved. Not every seed will sprout. Keep sowing the seed. Keep watching…working…praying…weeping. You’ll have a harvest.
We need to be so full of Jesus that the things that break the heart of Jesus will break our heart. Take time out for tears.
In 2020 especially, give those you love the personal touch only a hand-signed Christmas card provides. And while you’re at it, send a card that speaks to the world’s greatest need, the love and salvation found only through Jesus Christ! INSIDE THE CARD: The real wonder of Christmas is that the answer to our most difficult questions came to us as a child. Jesus is the answer. He is the greatest Love worth finding.