Against whom has Jesus been pronouncing woe and judgment throughout this chapter? See Mat 23:25,27,29, etc… What then is the significance against whom His lament in Mat 23:37 is addressed? Was it the case that the judgment for all the righteous blood that would fall upon the scribes and Pharisees would overtake and touch them only? Why is that? Think: was their religious and political leadership of the Jews that was centered in Jerusalem completely autocratic, or did it also reflect the state of the Jewish culture at the time so that their leadership must also be understood at least in part as a product of a wicked and adulterous generation? Cf. Isa 3:1-9. How is that like the religious and political leadership of our own day? E.g., although Barrack Obama and his Democratic party have led the United States in such sweeping social changes as gay marriage and Obamacare, to what extent do such changes also reflect the will of those who elected them? To what extent do “seeker friendly churches” and “modern worship” reflect the age from which they arose in which people are lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God? Cf. 2Ti 4:3-4, Isa 30:8-11. Hence, although godly leadership is necessary, is it sufficient to ensure that judgment will not overtake a people? What else is necessary, and what responsibility does that put on each person in the society? What does this teach us about the culpability of a wicked and adulterous generation from which capricious rulers arise? What does it also teach us about the notion that a person’s secret sins like pornography, fornication, abortion, adultery and sodomy are their business alone and of no consequence to the wider public?
Read Luk 13:33 and consider: In naming Jerusalem as the main instigator of persecution against God’s prophets, are we to understand Jesus’ words to refer only to that geographic area at the center of the Jewish religion, or also, and perhaps more so, to a spiritual location that is at the center of false and harlot religion? See Rev 11:8 and think: was Jesus’ lament spoken against all of those who were in the same geographic region as the scribes and Pharisees, or against all of those who were a part of their wicked and adulteress generation and hence of the same spiritual state? Cf. Mat 24:15-18, Rev 18:4. What is the significance that Jesus uses the present tense to describe Jerusalem’s persecution of those sent to her by God? Was it only for wicked deeds done in the past that judgment would overtake that adulterous generation, or for an unrepentant heart that would do the same thing again, or worse, in similar circumstances? Consider that the law commanded Israel to kill false prophets by stoning them to death (Deut 13:1-10), as Jesus says here that the worldly Jerusalem does to the true prophets; what does this teach us about the guise which God’s enemies use to persecute His messengers, and the extent to which Satan is able to so completely pervert true religion as to do the exact opposite of its intent even as it continues to present itself as true? Cf. Isa 5:20, 2Co 11:13-15 and note.
What do Jesus’ words in Mat 23:37 remind us about the Lord’s kindness, tolerance and patience even toward those of a wicked and adulterous generation, and His desire that none should perish but rather come to repentance and be saved? Cf. Luk 15:20-24. Was it the case that it was lost and wayward Jerusalem who wanted to be saved but God was unwilling to save her? Notice that the same Greek word is used to contrast God’s desire to gather the erring children of harlot religion, but it was not her desire; cf. the KJV rendering “how often would I…and ye would not”; see also Rom 10:21. What two words in Mat 23:37 indicate God’s earnest and repeated willingness to save Jerusalem, though she was not willing? How often did He seek to save her, and how often did she spurn His salvation? See 2Ch 36:15-16, Jer 25:3-7, Jer 26:4-6, 32:33, 35:14-15, 44:4-5; cf. Mat 21:35-39, 22:3-6. How often does God still speak to people today “in many portions and in many ways”, not just through His prophets, but through His Son (Heb 1:1-2)—especially to those in the carnal Church? How often do we ourselves dismiss the still small voice of His Spirit and harden our hearts against His call? Shall we then suppose that it will end any better for that same worldly Jerusalem of our own day? Will it not end even worse because she is even more accountable for the greater revelation she has received? See Heb 2:1-3, Rev 17:16, 18:6-8. In the day of judgment will those who are spiritually located in a worldly Jerusalem be able to plead that God didn’t warn them so that they didn’t know any better, and if only He had made it clear to them they would have turned their hearts to Him? Cf. Luk 16:27-31, Rom 1:18-20.
1. It has often been the artifice of Satan, to turn that artillery against the church, which was originally planted in the defense of it. Brand the true prophets as seducers, and the true professors of religion as heretics and schismatics, and then it will be easy to persecute them. Matthew Henry↩
2. Note: the KJV “rising early and sending” is an idiom that means “again and again” (NAS), “over and over” (NET), “persistently” (NRS).↩