28 But Jesus, turning to them, said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for Me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. 29 For indeed the days are coming in which they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren, wombs that never bore, and breasts which never nursed!’ 30 Then they will begin ‘to say to the mountains, “Fall on us!” and to the hills, “Cover us!” ’ 31 For if they do these things in the green wood, what will be done in the dry (Luke 23:28–31, NKJV)?”
Jesus used the figure of green and dry wood to warn the daughters of Jerusalem to mourn the difficult, deadly days ahead for Jerusalem (Luke 23:27-30). Verse 30 quotes and applies Hosea 10:8, which spoke of God’s judgment and punishment that Samaria would not escape. (This reference is used in Revelation 6:15-16, depicting the sure and inescapable nature of divine judgment.) The “green wood” period was no doubt when the Messiah was with them. His words and works brought life to Israel like a green spout. Yet they rejected and killed Him. Since that is how they acted when things were good, imagine what they would do when God removed His blessing and brought His judgment upon the city. Terrible things would be done (Matt. 24:9-12). Historians record accounts of cannibalism and other atrocities in Jerusalem during its siege and destruction by Rome in A.D. 70. We ought to believe, obey, and rejoice in the blessings of Christ (Eph. 1:3). If not, we will undoubtedly mourn when God’s wrath punishes our disobedience (2 Cor. 10:6; 2 Thess. 1:8-9).
37 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! 38 See! Your house is left to you desolate; 39 for I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’ (Matthew 23:37–39, NKJV)
God longed to gather His people to Himself to give them refuge and blessings. But their rejection of Christ brought terrible judgment upon Jerusalem and Judea at the hands of the Roman army. Like vultures devouring their prey, the Romans squelched a Jewish rebellion when general Titus destroyed Jerusalem and the temple in A.D. 70 (Matt. 24:1-2). Historian Josephus estimated 1.1 million Jews perished (many who had come to the city for Passover). Tens of thousands were enslaved and dispersed throughout the empire. Jerusalem’s house was left desolate because she refused to receive the Messiah (Lk. 19:41-44; Jno. 1:11). We must learn from Jerusalem’s demise that God judges sin, including those of His people. When Christians turn away from the Lord and reject His truth and mercy, we face the righteous judgment of God for our sins (Rom. 2:1-6). The gospel calls on Christians to abandon sin through repentance and embrace the spiritual blessings that are in Christ (2 Cor. 12:20-21; Eph. 1:3). “Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men” (2 Cor. 5:11). Beware. Practicing sin will not go unpunished. Christian friend, if there is sin in your life, repent and turn to the Lord without delay (1 Jno. 1:8-9).
34 “Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place. 35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.” (Matthew 24:34–35, NKJV)
Not everyone’s words can be trusted, including those who say they are telling us the truth. This is the sad and painful reality of sin. People lie, and by doing so they hurt themselves and others. There are also those whose word is honest and true. The integrity of their words marks them as trustworthy and dependable. Such are the words of Jesus. He is the Word who became flesh, full of grace and truth (John 1:14). Jesus had just told his disciples the startling truth of the coming destruction the temple and Jerusalem (Matt. 23:37-39; 24:1-33). He gave signs of the approaching demise which discerning Judean disciples could understand and “flee to the mountains” (Matt. 24:15-18). That generation saw what Jesus predicted when the Roman army destroyed Jerusalem in A.D. 70. We must never doubt the word of Jesus. He always speaks truth. His truth is eternal, unlike heaven and earth, which will pass away (2 Pet. 3:8-12). The certainty of His words compel our trust, without hesitation and reservation. Christ’s word is practical. The Judean saints escaped peril by believing and obeying His word. Like them, we must trust and obey Jesus. “But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say?” (Lk. 6:46). Jesus speaks truth. When we believe Him, we obey Him, because our hearts are assured that His word will not pass away.
2 And Jesus said to them, “Do you not see all these things? Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down.” 3 Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” 4 And Jesus answered and said to them: “Take heed that no one deceives you.” (Matthew 24:2–4, NKJV)
The magnificence of the Jerusalem temple impressed the disciples as they showed its buildings to Jesus (Matthew 24:1). But, divine judgment was set to destroy it all (Matthew 23:37-39; 24:2). Back on the Mount of Olives they ask Him for signs of the calamity of which He spoke, concluding it to be His coming and the end of the present order (v. 3). It would indeed be a coming of the Son of Man in judgment against the faithless city (Matthew 23:38; 24:27-28). Jesus gave them signs of the approaching judgment that happened in A.D. 70 when the Roman army destroyed the temple and the city. Believers would escape when they believed and responded to these signs (Matthew 24:15-26). Christ’s warning to avoid deception about His coming remain pertinent (v. 4, 11-13). Claims of when Jesus will return continue to be made. Such predictions are vain and false. The final great day of the Lord will come “as a thief in the night” without predictive signs (2 Peter 3:10; 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11). Always be ready for His return and do not be deceived (Matthew 24:44; 25:13).
37 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! 38 See! Your house is left to you desolate; 39 for I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’ ” (Matthew 23:37–39, NKJV)
The Messiah expressed His ardent desire to draw Jerusalem close to Himself, comfort her and protect her. Yet, Jerusalem was not willing to receive His love. She killed God’s prophets; their message was disdainful to her. She stoned God’s servants, and would soon kill God’s Son. Now, the desolation of divine judgment was in her future. Only by understanding the Messiah’s gospel would any of her inhabitants find a blessing (read Acts 3:24-26). Note here the longing of God and the freewill of man. God desires the salvation of all (1 Tim. 2:3-4). Yet, without a willing heart to receive God’s word and follow His will, the lost person will not be saved. Responsibility for the desolation of Jerusalem, applied by the Roman army in A.D. 70, fell squarely on the shoulders of its rebellious citizens. If we refuse God and the salvation He offers us, we are responsible for our own demise. Why not rather turn to Christ, receive His word, obey His will and be saved?