I remember Jesus looking over the city of Jerusalem and lamenting, Matthew 23:37, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem…” Then again in Luke 13:34, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem…” Then as He enters that city Luke 19:41-42 tells us, “And when he drew 15 safe with jesusnear and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, ‘Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace!’” Jesus wasn’t the first to weep for God’s people. Jesus may have actually taken His cue for these verses from Jeremiah who also spoke directly to Jerusalem in Jeremiah 4:14. Like Jesus he began with “O Jerusalem!” It goes on, “O Jerusalem, wash your heart from evil, that you may be saved. How long shall your wicked thoughts lodge within you?”

As Ryken observes, “It is not certain how Jeremiah would have understood this invitation. How could Jerusalem have washed the evil from her heart? Could she have performed some repentance to turn away the wrath of God? Could she have sacrificed some perfect lamb to drive the enemy away from the walls of Jerusalem? Jeremiah does not say.” It seems that the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple was a foregone conclusion because of their rejecting the covenant they made with God on Mt. Sinai. The judgment that was to fall upon Jerusalem that Jesus lamented was associated with their rejection of Him, their Messiah. Ryken continues his comments, “But know this: God’s purpose for the salvation of the world is to offer cleansing from sin through the blood of Jesus Christ. There is nothing in the whole world that can wash away the stain of sin except the blood of Jesus Christ, shed on the cross to take away sin. His blood can cleanse us from all sin. In Christ God says to us, as he said to the people of Judah, ‘Wash the evil from your heart and be saved.’ God can offer that kind of cleansing because Jesus Christ has taken the wrath of God upon himself. There is a faint reminder of this in Jeremiah. ‘Alas! I am fainting; my life is given over to murderers’ (v. 31). These words were spoken by the people of Judah to describe the agony of their devastation. They seem to be without hope.”[1]

I love the way he closes his comments, “Christians may say that Jesus suffered the judgment of Jeremiah 4 in their place. There is great comfort in knowing that Jesus Christ has already suffered all of the wrath of God against your sin. On the Day of Judgment, when human history is rewound, creation is un-created, and the heavens and the earth are consumed by fire, you will have nothing to fear. You will be safe in Jesus Christ.”[2]

[1] Philip Graham Ryken, Jeremiah and Lamentations: From Sorrow to Hope, Preaching the Word (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2001), 82.

[2] Philip Graham Ryken, Jeremiah and Lamentations: From Sorrow to Hope, Preaching the Word (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2001), 83.