Jesus’ Sorrow For Jerusalem



The name Herod was given to the family ruling Palestine immediately before and to some degree during the first half of the first Christian century. Their family history was complex, and what information has come down has been frequently small, conflicting, and difficult to harmonise.

A Jewish political party called the Herodians sympathised with the Herodian rulers in their general policy of government, and in the social customs, that they introduced from Rome, Mark 3:6 / Mark 12:13 / Matthew 22:16 / Luke 20:20. They were at one with the Sadducees in holding the duty of submission to Rome, and of supporting the Herods on the throne, Mark 8:15 / Matthew 16:6.

Herod was the family name of several Roman rulers who served as provincial governors of Palestine and surrounding regions during New Testament times. The first Herod, known as Herod the Great, was the Roman ruler of Palestine during the days of the Roman Emperor Caesar Augustus when Jesus was born in Bethlehem, Matthew 2:1 / Luke 3:1.

All the other Herods mentioned in the New Testament were the sons or grandsons of this Herod. Herod’s son Antipas is the Herod we’re dealing with here, he was the Roman governor of Galilee and Perea, Matthew 14:1. And if you remember, Antipas was responsible for the imprisonment and death of John the Baptiser, Luke 3:19-20 / Matthew 14:1-12.

‘At that time some Pharisees came to Jesus and said to him, ‘Leave this place and go somewhere else. Herod wants to kill you.’ Luke 13:31

Jesus is possibly in or around the region of Galilee at this point which was Herod’s jurisdiction, and, on the surface, it appears some ‘well-intentioned’ Pharisees came along to warn Jesus that Herod was out to kill Him. I guess the question we should ask is simply this, were they truly sincere? Did they really care so much for Jesus that they went out of their way to warn Him? Or did they have something else in mind?

Throughout the Gospels we see the Pharisee’s attitude towards Jesus and I just can’t believe for one moment they cared for Jesus in any shape or form, time and time again we’ve seen them clash with Him and look for any excuse to get rid of Him.

Remember John the Baptiser had a great number of people following him, this is one reason why Herod had him arrested. The Pharisees may have told Jesus that Herod wants to kill Jesus for the same reason, He has a great following.

The problem with this theory is that if Herod really did want to kill Jesus, why didn’t he do so later when he had the chance? Luke 23:11.

So, what was their real motive?

It is possible that they tried to intimidate Him in an effort to get Him to stop teaching against their ‘religion’, but I believe the real motive which is in the character of the Pharisees is that they wanted to scare Jesus into returning to Jerusalem, where of course, they planned to kill Him themselves.

‘He replied, ‘Go tell that fox, ‘I will keep on driving out demons and healing people today and tomorrow, and on the third day I will reach my goal.’ Luke 13:32

Notice Jesus calls Herod ‘that fox’ in the Greek text it simply says, ‘she fox’. A fox isn’t a large, bold or courageous animal, it’s the complete opposite, it’s small, weak, sly, and a cunning character. Jesus may be referring to Herodias, Herod’s wife, who if you remember was very influential in the murder of John the Baptist, Matthew 14:8-11 / Mark 6:24-28.

Whatever Jesus was referring to, He basically says that Herod himself was a small, weak and sly governor, who wasn’t worthy of any respect or honour.

It’s clear that Jesus wasn’t that bothered about what the Pharisees, He saw through the deception, and so, He will continue to drive out demons and heal people.

What Was Jesus’ Goal?

To get to Jerusalem, where He would eventually die for all of mankind. If we learn anything from Jesus, surely, it’s the lesson of intimidation, we must be willing to continue to move forward in preaching the Gospel, no matter how much the world tries to intimidate us, Acts 4:19-20.

‘In any case, I must press on today and tomorrow and the next day—for surely no prophet can die outside Jerusalem!’ Luke 13:33

Jesus says He’s not planning to be in Herod’s territory very long anyway, but He won’t be intimidated into leaving his territory by anyone.

Jesus had one thing on His mind and that was getting to Jerusalem, He was well aware of what His mission was and the Jews, the disciples or even Herod weren’t going to change His mind. He was determined to do the will of the Father and go to the cross, Genesis 3:15 / Revelation 13:8.

It’s clear that Jesus knew that He wouldn’t be safe in Jerusalem but He also knew and prophesied time and time again that He would die in Jerusalem. Although these Pharisees tried to trick Jesus into going to Jerusalem, they weren’t aware that His mind was already made up to go, He knew their plans, He knew their schemes and He certainly knew that they were planning to murder Him in Jerusalem.

‘Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing. Look, your house is left to you desolate.’ Luke 13:34

Notice that Jesus speaks of Jerusalem as if it was a person. You can almost feel the heartache in His words, the heartache wasn’t about Himself, it wasn’t about them rejecting Him, the heartache was all about the people. He sees Jerusalem’s future and it wasn’t bright, it wasn’t glorious, it was bleak and one of the darkest times in Jerusalem’s history, He saw its destruction, A.D.70. Jesus mourns deeply over the city which once stood as the centre for worshipping God for many, many years.

Just like God forgave Nineveh long ago, He would have forgiven Jerusalem and if they would only repent He would gladly gather them together as a hen gathers her chicks, which is a picture of gentleness and love.

It was the great, Jerusalem, of which the people refused to repent when asked to by the prophets, Luke 5:12 / Hebrews 11:32-40. Ah, Jerusalem, they murdered the Old Testament prophets and now they’re getting ready to do the same with Jesus, the true King.

Notice that Jesus says, ‘your house’, this is a reference to the temple but by the time Jesus came along, it didn’t have any significance in reference to God, it wasn’t God’s house anymore, it was their house.

The temple which once stood for everything which was right, the place of righteousness had become the place of unrighteous practices and worship. God had abandoned His house because the so-called religious leaders had abandoned God, Luke 15:1-9 / Mark 7:1-9. I guess we could say they stole the vineyard and were about to kill the Son of the owner, Matthew 21:33-45.

God was finished with the temple and all its practices because the temple had become desolate of spiritual leadership, 1 Kings 9:1ff / Jeremiah 12:7 / Jeremiah 22:5. Ah the temple, the place where the holy place was and the holy of holies, the place where God’s glory once shone out among the nations, the temple in which not long from now was going to be destroyed by the Romans in A.D.70.

‘I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’ Luke 13:35

In the last verse, Jesus tells them they won’t see Him again until they say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord’ which is a quote from Psalm 118:26. Jerusalem and her self-righteous leaders wouldn’t repent and so in that sense, they wouldn’t personally see Jesus again. We do know that after He rose from the grave He would appear personally to His disciples, 1 Corinthians 15:3-7, but not to them.


The Pharisees came to Jesus with a lie in an effort to get Him to go to Jerusalem, but little did they know He intended to go there anyway. Jesus loved His people, even those who tried to trick Him, abuse Him and who would eventually murder Him. He longed for them to repent so that He could gently gather them together in His loving arms, but they refused.

We all have people in our lives whom we care for and love deeply, sadly, many of them don’t want anything to do with Jesus because they too refuse to change their ways. There are many people throughout the world who refuse to reconsider their position before God because they don’t want anything to do with Him.

Jesus longed for Jerusalem to repent, He waited a long time, and He was very patient with them, but God’s patience ran out. There’s a time coming when God’s patience is going to run out with all those who refuse to acknowledge His existence and turn to Him for salvation, 1 Timothy 3:4 / 2 Peter 3:9-10.