Luke’s account of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem included a unique aspect of his approach that revealed Jesus’ feelings at the time. Luke reported:
And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it, saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thy 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. (Luke 19:41-44)
Jesus’ prediction of the destruction of Jerusalem showed his foreknowledge of the end result of his ministry. The Jews rejection of their Messiah would bring about a severe punishment of their nation and divine sentence against their false religion.
The Greek term translated visitation in Luke 19:44 is episcope (ep-is-kop-ay´). “This word expresses that act by which God looks into and searches out the ways, deeds, and character of men in order to adjudge them their lot accordingly, whether joyous or sad” (G1984). One of the reasons Jesus came to Earth was to show God’s people he was a real person and was able to see everything that was going on in the physical realm. Jesus existed before he was born as a man and was involved in God’s work which included the creation of the universe (John 1:1-3). Jesus was sad when he looked down on the city of Jerusalem because in spite of all he had done to demonstrate God’s love and concern for his chosen people, they were not interested in the kind of salvation he had to offer them: peace with God and their fellow man.
Jesus’ visitation to Earth culminated in a series of orchestrated activities during the final week of his life. One of those activities was a private dinner at the home of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. John said of this event, “Much of the people of the Jews therefore knew that he was there: and they came not for Jesus’ sake only, but that they might see Lazarus also, whom he had raised from the dead. But the chief priests consulted that they might put Lazarus also to death; because that by reason of him many of the Jews went away, and believed on Jesus” (John 12:9-11). The authenticity of the miracle Jesus performed was indisputable. Therefore, the religious leaders knew that in order to stop his work they had to not only get rid of Jesus, but also the evidence of his miraculous power; Lazarus, the man that he had brought back to life.
Matthew indicated that Jesus lodged in Bethany (Matthew 21:17), most likely at the home of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus until his arrest a few days later. During that time, Jesus had an opportunity to fellowship with some of his closest friends and associates of his ministry. Jesus may have intended to lay the groundwork for the church that would be established in that area after his resurrection. Jesus’ visit with the believers in Bethany and Bethphage was probably filled with both joyous and sad moments. One thing that is certain is that Jesus knew he was going to die before the end of the week and wanted to spend as much time as possible preparing his followers for what lay ahead.