Jesus laments over Jerusalem

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Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
Hello,

I am looking into Puritan sermon links and quotes regarding Jesus' lament over Jerusalem, especially when he said, "how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!"

Wondering how this passage is treated theologically and pastorally from the pulpit.
 

InSlaveryToChrist

Puritan Board Junior
Context, context, context... :)

And the context to be noted is,

Matthew 23:1-3, 13, 16, 23, 25, 27, 29, 33-37

1 ″Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, 2 “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat, 3 so practice and observe whatever they tell you- but not what they do. For they preach, but do not practice…

13 “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in.

16 “Woe to you, blind guides…

23 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!…

25 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!…

27 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!…

29 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!…

33 You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell? 34 Therefore I send you prophets and wise men and scribes, some of whom you will kill and crucify, and some you will flog in your synagogues and persecute from town to town, 35 so that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of innocent Abel to the blood of Zechariah the son of Barachiah, whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar. 36 Truly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation. 37 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not!

As you can see, this passage comes in the context of a fierce rebuke of the religious leaders of the Jews. Note who the pronoun “you” refers to in verses 33-35 where the killers of the prophets are described. We see the killers of the prophets (Jerusalem) being lamented over. One would be hard pressed to make “Jerusalem, the city … your … you” be anyone other than the scribes and Pharisees that Jesus has been rebuking.

Now let’s look more closely at who was resisting and who was to be gathered. Do you see it? Here Jesus laments that the religious leaders were resisting him in his drawing of their children.

To sum up, we have a verse where the religious leaders are being lamented (after the sharpest rebuke Jesus gave anywhere) over their resistance to God’s drawing of the children of Israel.
 

KeithW

Puritan Board Freshman
It is not only context, as Samuel points out, but it is also paying attention to the pronouns. I would have gathered your children but you would not allow it.

This was first pointed out to me by a friend who is also a pastor. He mentioned that John Gill points this out in The Cause Of God And Truth, part 1, section 25 (Matt. 23:37).
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
Here is Spurgeon's sermon linked. He speaks of this as a true "lament" (meaning that Jesus is sad rather than indignant):

http://www.spurgeongems.org/vols43-45/chs2630.pdf

and here:

Calvin and Calvinism » Blog Archive » Charles Spurgeon (1834-1892) on Matthew 23:37

Do you have any doctrinal problems with how Spurgeon treats this text?

. First, WHAT Jesus WOULD DO. “How often would I have gathered your children together, even as a hen gathers
her chickens under her wings!”
What does this mean? It is a very simple, homely, beautiful, touching simile—the hen gathering her chickens under
her wings. And it means, first, that Jesus would make you feel quite safe. Look, there is the shadow of a hawk! The bird
of prey is poised up yonder and the shadow is seen upon the ground. Or the mother hen, looking up, notices the destroyer
and, in a moment, she gives a cluck of alarm and so calls together her little family. And in a few seconds they are all safe
beneath her sheltering feathers—her wings become their efficient shield. Now, our Lord Jesus Christ would do just that
with us. He would make us quite safe—take us out of the broad road of danger and then compass us about with the
wings of His power so that we might not only be safe, but also feel quite safe.

Spurgeon treats this text as an invitation; not merely an expression of "indignation." Pastorally he treats this text evangelistically to comfort and call people to come to Christ.

The phrasing does exist, however, in this text that Jesus would have something done, but that man would not have it done. Such that some might say that his desires here are thwarted by the will of man (Christ WOULD but ye WOULD NOT...). God would have them saved, but man would not do so.
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
Christ had, and has, a human nature - including a reasonable human soul - and a divine nature. It's a deep mystery how the two natures in one person "relate" and "interact", such that, for example, Christ who was omniscient in His divine nature can express lack of knowledge of something.

Sent from my HTC Wildfire using Tapatalk 2
 

earl40

Puritan Board Professor
Christ had, and has, a human nature - including a reasonable human soul - and a divine nature. It's a deep mystery how the two natures in one person "relate" and "interact", such that, for example, Christ who was omniscient in His divine nature can express lack of knowledge of something.


Richard, just curious to what you think Jesus lacked in this discussion? :)
 

InSlaveryToChrist

Puritan Board Junior
I don't see lamentation and indignation as mutually exclusive. There was a sense of sadness over the miserable state of the leaders (since our high priest is a symphatic one), but there was also a righteous anger toward their destructive conduct/behaviour that kept others from receiving the Gospel. Jesus never limited his pity and compassion to the elect, he really felt the pain of all the sinners he encountered on his ministry and was symphatetic about their state, human that he was, and it was precisely because of this sympathy that he would abhor any obstacles set in the way of the Gospel.
 

KeithW

Puritan Board Freshman
You provided a link to Spurgeon's sermon no. 2381. In the first paragraph Spurgeon starts making the mistake John Gill points out with respect to pronouns. Once Spurgeon makes that mistake he pulls the verse out of context and uses this verse to support doctrine found elsewhere in Scripture, but misses the point of this verse and this chapter. Once he misses the meaning of the pronouns he is no longer following his advice and warning of the second paragraph of his sermon that he will follow wherever Scripture leads.

I am going to repeat what Samuel already quoted, and add some more from the same chapter/context, and add another verse which Spurgeon quoted but misapplied. These will be paraphrases for the purpose of not getting lost in the wording of who Jesus is speaking to and what He was trying to say.

  • Matt. 23:2,3 You common people, do what your religious leaders say but not what they do.
  • Matt. 23:4 You common people, your religious leaders lay heavy burdens on you but your leaders will not lift a finger to help you with those burdens.
  • Matt. 23:13 Woe to you, you religious leaders. You shut up the kingdom of God preventing the common man from entering. You won't go in yourselves nor let the common man go in either.
  • Matt. 23:15 Woe to you, you religious leaders. You travel land and sea to make one convert, but then you make them twice the child of hell that you already are.
  • Matt. 23:27,28 Woe to you, you religious leaders. Within, you are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.
  • Matt. 23:33 You religious leaders, how can you escape the damnation of hell.
  • Matt. 23:34,35 Jesus will send prophets and wise men, but you religious leaders will kill them, crucify them, scourge them, and persecute them.
  • Matt. 23:37 You religious leaders, you kill and stone the prophets whom God sends to you.
  • Matt. 23:37 Jesus said, I would have gathered the common people, your children, but you religious leaders would not have me do it. You religious leaders prevented me.
  • John 5:39,40 Jesus was saying to the religious leaders, you search the Scriptures thinking that the rules in them will give you life, but those Scriptures testify of Me. But you religious leaders will not come to Me for eternal life.
There is a pattern going on here. All of this is context for Matt 23:37. Focusing on only part of the passage, "how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not", and ignoring the pronouns and context is to miss the main point. Matthew 23 is not about an invitation or an offer.
 

Ask Mr. Religion

Flatly Unflappable
Yes, the key is the "five woes" of Christ.

Jesus Laments Over Jerusalem | Reformed Bible Studies & Devotionals at Ligonier.org
 

Wayne

Tempus faciendi, Domine.
Matt. 23:37
Palmer, B.M., "Christ's Pity for the Sinner," Sermons, pp. 37-47. Jan. 28, 1883.

Spurgeon, C.H., "I Would; But Yet Would Not," #2381, MTP 40.469-477.
 

earl40

Puritan Board Professor
Yes, the key is the "five woes" of Christ.

Jesus Laments Over Jerusalem | Reformed Bible Studies & Devotionals at Ligonier.org

"By this hidden will God may ordain events that by themselves do not please Him but nonetheless contribute to His glory, which is supremely pleasing to Him "

Of course Our Lord "loves" even the unelect, as His creation, and to totally separate the unelect from the deeds they perform is something we all can and should struggle with as evidenced by the OP. :)
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
Yes, the key is the "five woes" of Christ.

Jesus Laments Over Jerusalem | Reformed Bible Studies & Devotionals at Ligonier.org

How does Ligonier differ from Spurgeon in his treatment of verse 37? I see no difference in what they seem to say about the attitude of Jesus towards sinners.
 

TheOldCourse

Puritan Board Sophomore

Yes, I don't know if I agree with this or not and am looking for a second opinion:

How often would I have gathered together thy children. This is expressive of indignation rather than of compassion.

Calvin is not differing from Spurgeon in respect of what that phrase says regarding Jesus' care for the covenant people. If you keep reading on to his comments on the "as a hen collecteth.." phrase that is clear. What he does appear to be differing in, and rightly so, is the general thrust of the whole passage. When Spurgeon takes that one verse out of the passage and makes an evangelistic sermon out of it, he is missing the fact that Jesus himself is not using the statement in that manner. As others have pointed out, it's part of a judgment on the Scribes and Pharisees where Jesus is using his own benevolent attitude towards Jerusalem as a contrast to heighten to guilt of the Scribes and Pharisees. When Calvin says "This is expressive of indignation rather than of compassion." he is not speaking of the gathering together per se as indignant (as if unto judgment), but that the thrust and tenor of the passage in context as a whole--the manner in which he is addressing is audience--is not one of compassion towards Jerusalem but of indignation towards the Scribes and Pharisees.
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
Is it appropriate then to follow Spurgeon and focus on verse 37 for a sermon with only passing comments on the general "woes" recorded to Israel?

I would think so, since each an every sermon is limited, and his aims were not to summarize the whole chapter but to communicate a single main thrust or idea within his pulpit time (the main idea that God is willing to save sinners and not being saved is not due to God's lack but man's lack of willingness).

Spurgeon's main points seem to be: God was willing, but man was not. Here we see a strange example of God's stated desires being over-turned by man, but yet shows the willingness of Jesus to have saved all, if they only would have come. The reason for salvation is all with God's grace, but the reason for any man's damnation is all his own fault. In 40-45 minutes, just covering the implications of verse 37 is a hefty task.

If the passage as a whole has major notes of indignation, yet minor notes of compassion (to be found in verse 37), it would seem appropriate that any sermon focused on verse 37 specifically would major on the compassion within this larger context of indignation.
 

AlexanderHenderson1647

Puritan Board Freshman
Context, context, context... :)

And the context to be noted is,

Matthew 23:1-3, 13, 16, 23, 25, 27, 29, 33-37

1 ″Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, 2 “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat, 3 so practice and observe whatever they tell you- but not what they do. For they preach, but do not practice…

13 “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in.

16 “Woe to you, blind guides…

23 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!…

25 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!…

27 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!…

29 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!…

33 You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell? 34 Therefore I send you prophets and wise men and scribes, some of whom you will kill and crucify, and some you will flog in your synagogues and persecute from town to town, 35 so that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of innocent Abel to the blood of Zechariah the son of Barachiah, whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar. 36 Truly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation. 37 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not!

As you can see, this passage comes in the context of a fierce rebuke of the religious leaders of the Jews. Note who the pronoun “you” refers to in verses 33-35 where the killers of the prophets are described. We see the killers of the prophets (Jerusalem) being lamented over. One would be hard pressed to make “Jerusalem, the city … your … you” be anyone other than the scribes and Pharisees that Jesus has been rebuking.

Now let’s look more closely at who was resisting and who was to be gathered. Do you see it? Here Jesus laments that the religious leaders were resisting him in his drawing of their children.

To sum up, we have a verse where the religious leaders are being lamented (after the sharpest rebuke Jesus gave anywhere) over their resistance to God’s drawing of the children of Israel.

Excellent! Gordon Clark pointed that out as well.
 

Cymro

Puritan Board Junior
Gordon Clarke draws upon Dr Gill in his interpretation, which to my
mind is the only sensible treatment.
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
http://www.reformationtheology.com/2009/06/matthew_2337_and_the_role_of_t.php
Matthew 23 Sermons | SermonAudio.com

This may be helpful. But note that not every ministry on SermonAudio is Calvinistic.

Thanks, that is helpful. A question: on the sermon audio site (to the left of the sermon title) there is a symbol of a pencil. Does this mean that there exists a written transcript of the text. I'd much rather see/read a written transcript than listen to mp3 sermons, if that option is available.

Here is a discussion on James White's view of Matthew 23:37. White agrees with Gill's exegesis: Society of Evangelical Arminians | James White on Matthew 23:37

Here is another good link that was helpful to me:

Does Spurgeon essentially take an Arminian reading of this text?
 
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Jonny.

Puritan Board Freshman
Thanks, that is helpful. A question: on the sermon audio site (to the left of the sermon title) there is a symbol of a pencil. Does this mean that there exists a written transcript of the text. I'd much rather see/read a written transcript than listen to mp3 sermons, if that option is available.

No, I'm not sure what the pencil means, but it's only available to paying members. Something to do with comments maybe?

There's a dropdown menu just below the selected Scripture portion. It allows you to filter sermons. You can select "Transcript" or "PDF text" to only show sermons that have these.
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
I think I am now coming to an understanding of the reformed understanding of this verse. How often would Christ have gathered the "children" of those Jewish religious leaders, but those leaders would not have it thusly. They (the Jewish leaders) stood against God's purposes in gathering others.

However, this doesn't eliminate the problem; Jesus desired something which did not happen. He desired to gather those taught by the Jewish authorities, those inhabitants of Jerusalem (those children). Yet the bulk of those in Jerusalem were not gathered but remained as unbelievers. He saved some from Jerusalem, but not even a majority it seems (40 years later the city was destroyed for her unbelief and the number of Jesus-followers seemed low...not much of a gathering). Also, among those religious leaders (whom Jesus does not say that he desires to save), some of those pharisees were, in fact, saved.

So, if it is a misrepresentation of the text to interpret this text (like Spurgeon does) to mean, "God has said, how often would I have gathered you...but ye would not..." there is, nonetheless, a portion of folks in Jerusalem that Jesus seems to say that he desired to gather but they were not gathered. It doesn't matter that the "ye would not" refers to the leaders rather than the "children"...Jesus desired that the children be gathered, yet many if not most of those children were not gathered. It seems that there was something that Jesus desired that did not fully happen.
 

earl40

Puritan Board Professor
I think we can look at this in respect to Our Lord's humanity in that He desired what is good and natural to humans. For instance in the wilderness while being tempted by satan Jesus no doubt wanted to eat which is of itself is good but The Fathers will was followed in that He did not eat. The same could be the case with the people of Jerusalem in that as humans (which includes Jesus in His humanity) we should weep for those who do not know The Lord which include those we know not if they are elect or not.
 

Abeard

Puritan Board Freshman
Have you checked out John Brown of Haddington's Discourses and sayings of our Lord?
 

KeithW

Puritan Board Freshman
The essence of your question seems to be, can God's will be thwarted? Here are some things from Arthur W. Pink.

Arthur W. Pink, The Sovereignty Of God, Chapter 11. Difficulties and Objections

In the first 10 chapters, Pink first establishes that God is Sovereign and that His Will is not thwarted. Then Pink considers objections to this idea in chapter 11 and in his appendices. In chapter 11 he specifically considers Matt. 23:37.

Arthur W. Pink, The Doctrine Of Election, Chapter 11. Its Opposition

Pink considers Matt. 23:37 and other Scriptures which say the same thing.

Chapter 11. Its Opposition said:
"Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded; but ye have set at naught all my counsel, and would none of my reproof" (Prov. 1:24, 25). "I have spread out my hands all the day unto a rebellious people which walketh in a way that was not good, after their own thoughts" (Isa. 65:2). "How often would I have gathered thy children together . . . and ye would not" (Matt. 23:37).
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
I think I am now coming to an understanding of the reformed understanding of this verse. How often would Christ have gathered the "children" of those Jewish religious leaders, but those leaders would not have it thusly. They (the Jewish leaders) stood against God's purposes in gathering others.

However, this doesn't eliminate the problem; Jesus desired something which did not happen. He desired to gather those taught by the Jewish authorities, those inhabitants of Jerusalem (those children). Yet the bulk of those in Jerusalem were not gathered but remained as unbelievers. He saved some from Jerusalem, but not even a majority it seems (40 years later the city was destroyed for her unbelief and the number of Jesus-followers seemed low...not much of a gathering). Also, among those religious leaders (whom Jesus does not say that he desires to save), some of those pharisees were, in fact, saved.

So, if it is a misrepresentation of the text to interpret this text (like Spurgeon does) to mean, "God has said, how often would I have gathered you...but ye would not..." there is, nonetheless, a portion of folks in Jerusalem that Jesus seems to say that he desired to gather but they were not gathered. It doesn't matter that the "ye would not" refers to the leaders rather than the "children"...Jesus desired that the children be gathered, yet many if not most of those children were not gathered. It seems that there was something that Jesus desired that did not fully happen.

I'm perfectly content with the idea that Jesus desired something that did not happen. He was a man after all.

I don't mean to diminish the fact that the Person has two natures but merely to note that Jesus the man could have (and did have) desires that were not necessarily fulfilled. He asked the Father if there was a way for the cup to pass by in the Garden.

One of the things I've grown to appreciate is the Reformed contribution to Christology that stressed that Jesus the man was dependent upon the Spirit for His work. There is still great mystery but we sometimes think of Christ in Appollinarian terms as if He walked the earth with a Divine mind in a human body.

I was actually meditating on Lazarus' death yesterday and that Christ shed real tears. We sometimes think that Jesus was just operating with Divine understanding and so He sort of puts on some sort of show for the crowd. We have to give some explanatory reason as to why Jesus would weep over the death of a friend because, after all, He's omniscient. No He was not - in His humanity.

Thus, as far as a desire for the inhabitants of Jerusalem to be saved, I don't think it's any more unusual for Jesus to desire (as a man) the salvation of those He came into contact with and still testify to Nicodemus that the "Spirit blows where it will...." If it's inappropriate for Jesus to desire the salvation of men then it is also for us.

That said, I agree with the interpretation that this is a rebuke. It's a "subjunctive" that, if it was not for the blinding influence of these leaders, there would be more fruit and they'll pay for it. It's precisely what we think about those who have led others astray with false teaching. Obviously it is God's eternal decree that some men are blinded by the Scribes and Pharisees but it's still true (as far as theology at the level of the creature) that men are responsible for causing little ones to stumble and that it's better for them that they were never born.
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
I think I am now coming to an understanding of the reformed understanding of this verse. How often would Christ have gathered the "children" of those Jewish religious leaders, but those leaders would not have it thusly. They (the Jewish leaders) stood against God's purposes in gathering others.

However, this doesn't eliminate the problem; Jesus desired something which did not happen. He desired to gather those taught by the Jewish authorities, those inhabitants of Jerusalem (those children). Yet the bulk of those in Jerusalem were not gathered but remained as unbelievers. He saved some from Jerusalem, but not even a majority it seems (40 years later the city was destroyed for her unbelief and the number of Jesus-followers seemed low...not much of a gathering). Also, among those religious leaders (whom Jesus does not say that he desires to save), some of those pharisees were, in fact, saved.

So, if it is a misrepresentation of the text to interpret this text (like Spurgeon does) to mean, "God has said, how often would I have gathered you...but ye would not..." there is, nonetheless, a portion of folks in Jerusalem that Jesus seems to say that he desired to gather but they were not gathered. It doesn't matter that the "ye would not" refers to the leaders rather than the "children"...Jesus desired that the children be gathered, yet many if not most of those children were not gathered. It seems that there was something that Jesus desired that did not fully happen.

I'm perfectly content with the idea that Jesus desired something that did not happen. He was a man after all.

I don't mean to diminish the fact that the Person has two natures but merely to note that Jesus the man could have (and did have) desires that were not necessarily fulfilled. He asked the Father if there was a way for the cup to pass by in the Garden.

One of the things I've grown to appreciate is the Reformed contribution to Christology that stressed that Jesus the man was dependent upon the Spirit for His work. There is still great mystery but we sometimes think of Christ in Appollinarian terms as if He walked the earth with a Divine mind in a human body.

I was actually meditating on Lazarus' death yesterday and that Christ shed real tears. We sometimes think that Jesus was just operating with Divine understanding and so He sort of puts on some sort of show for the crowd. We have to give some explanatory reason as to why Jesus would weep over the death of a friend because, after all, He's omniscient. No He was not - in His humanity.

Thus, as far as a desire for the inhabitants of Jerusalem to be saved, I don't think it's any more unusual for Jesus to desire (as a man) the salvation of those He came into contact with and still testify to Nicodemus that the "Spirit blows where it will...." If it's inappropriate for Jesus to desire the salvation of men then it is also for us.

That said, I agree with the interpretation that this is a rebuke. It's a "subjunctive" that, if it was not for the blinding influence of these leaders, there would be more fruit and they'll pay for it. It's precisely what we think about those who have led others astray with false teaching. Obviously it is God's eternal decree that some men are blinded by the Scribes and Pharisees but it's still true (as far as theology at the level of the creature) that men are responsible for causing little ones to stumble and that it's better for them that they were never born.

Yes, thanks. I was also thinking of Jesus asking the cup to pass from him. John Frame stated, ""God does not intend to bring about everything he values, but he never fails to bring about what he intends" in the context of distinguishing between God's moral will and his hidden will or decree. As strange as it sounds, it seems that God wills things in his hidden will that He does not "desire' in his moral will, such that Reformed theologians have spoken of the "two wills" of God (not that there are two wills, for God only has one will, but that we see this will through these two lenses).
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
Thanks Rich, you also wrote:

If it's inappropriate for Jesus to desire the salvation of men then it is also for us.

Yes. This seems to be one of the main preaching implications of this verse.

Here is one of the reasons for the OP: I am encountering some Primitive Baptists that seem to restrict God's desire to see men saved and deny that there is a sense in which Jesus desired all to be saved.

Would you agree that God "desires" to see all men saved? Or that Jesus in his humanity desired to see all men saved (even though God did not will such a thing)? God is willing for all to come; but man's will is what prevents him from being saved such that salvationis 100% grace and of GOd, yet man's damnation is totally his own fault (Spurgeon's main point in the linked sermon).
 
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