What does Matthew 23:37 mean?
ESV: "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 were not willing!
NIV: "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.
NASB: Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who have been sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling.
CSB: "Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her. How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!
NLT: O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones God’s messengers! How often I have wanted to gather your children together as a hen protects her chicks beneath her wings, but you wouldn’t let me.
KJV: O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!
NKJV: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!
Verse Commentary:
So far as the gospel of Matthew is concerned, these are the last words Jesus will speak to Jerusalem in a public setting. He has more yet to teach, and the two chapters will contain extensive records of those words. This, however, is the point where Jesus' public ministry ends (Matthew 23:39). Prior to this, Jesus has been condemning Israel's failed religious leadership (Matthew 23:1–3). Those words were delivered with a cutting, direct mood. Here, Christ's words are significantly more mournful. Looking ahead to the disaster that will come on the city, Jesus speaks with a tender and longing tone.

Despite being the chief city of God's chosen people, Jerusalem has earned a sad legacy over the generations (Acts 7:52). This city of David has become known as the city that kills prophets and stones the messengers God sends to her. That legacy will be emphasized eternally within the week as Jesus Himself is condemned and killed in Jerusalem (Matthew 26:1–5).

Jesus describes the role He would have rather held in relationship to the city and the people of Israel. Speaking from the perspective of God, as a member of the Trinity, Jesus notes how often He would have stepped in to protect Jerusalem and her children. The symbolism here is unique in Scripture and carries an almost maternal sense. Jesus, the Son of God, describes His heart motive to protect His people.

Of course, since God is omnipotent, that raises the question of why God did not, in fact, offer that level of protection. Why did they suffer so much judgment and death? Why will the city be exposed to the destruction yet to come (Matthew 24:1–2)? The answer is not complex, though it can be hard to accept: the people were not willing to receive His protection. They rejected God, and His messengers, and His message (John 5:39–40). And so, judgment fell, and would soon fall again.
Verse Context:
Matthew 23:37–39 contains Jesus' cry of mourning over Jerusalem's unfaithfulness and impending ruin. He describes a devastating legacy of killing prophets and stoning God's messengers. Christ speaks from His divine perspective as a member of the Trinity. He expresses the longing God shows, in both the Old and New Testaments, to protect Jerusalem's children. Yet they have rejected Him. Now He will withdraw, and God's judgment will come. Jesus' public ministry in Jerusalem is now over: the city at large will not see Him again until they are ready to apply the words of Psalm 118: "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!"
Chapter Summary:
After thoroughly dismantling scribes, Pharisees, and Sadducees in debate, Jesus even more thoroughly condemns these religious leaders for their religious hypocrisy. They do all their religious acts and works to be seen and approved of by other people. Jesus pronounces God's judgment on the scribes and Pharisees in a series of seven "woe to you" statements. He repeatedly calls them "blind" and "hypocrites." He concludes with a lament for Jerusalem and her children who rejected His protection. God's judgment is coming.
Chapter Context:
Matthew 23 concludes Matthew's multi-chapter account of all of Jesus' interactions in the temple during the last week before His arrest and crucifixion. After silencing the religious leaders with parables and brilliant responses (Matthew 21—22), He pronounces God's judgment on the scribes and Pharisees in a series of seven "woe to you" statements. Jesus mourns for the judgment that will come on Jerusalem for her rejection of God. This leads Jesus to leave the temple, sadly remarking on its impending destruction (Matthew 24:1–2). As the disciples ask about this, Jesus begins an extended teaching on the end times in chapter 24.
Book Summary:
The Gospel of Matthew clearly shows the influence of its writer's background, and his effort to reach a specific audience. Matthew was one of Jesus' twelve disciples, a Jewish man, and a former tax collector. This profession would have required literacy, and Matthew may have transcribed some of Jesus' words as they were spoken. This book is filled with references to the Old Testament, demonstrating to Israel that Jesus is the Promised One. Matthew also includes many references to coins, likely due to his former profession. Matthew records extensive accounts of Jesus' teaching, more than the other three Gospels.
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