What does Matthew 23:38 mean?
ESV: See, your house is left to you desolate.
NIV: Look, your house is left to you desolate.
NASB: Behold, your house is being left to you desolate!
CSB: See, your house is left to you desolate.
NLT: And now, look, your house is abandoned and desolate.
KJV: Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.
NKJV: See! Your house is left to you desolate;
Verse Commentary:
Mournfully, Jesus declared that He would have protected the people of Jerusalem, much as a hen would shield chicks under her wings (Matthew 23:37). Jerusalem, through her own people and their religious leaders (Matthew 23:1–3), rejected the protection of the Lord and has now rejected Jesus as the Messiah. That rejection will soon result in Jesus being unfairly condemned and executed (Matthew 26:1–5).

One consequence of this tragic rejection (John 5:39–40) is that God's protection will be entirely removed. Like a building abandoned and empty, there will be nothing left able to prevent disaster. These words echo those of the prophet Jeremiah (Jeremiah 12:7), speaking about Israel's prior experiences with judgment. They also point forward to the dire prediction Christ will make in the opening verses of the next chapter: "There will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down (Matthew 24:2)." This seems to be a reference to the huge temple in Jerusalem, perhaps a parallel meaning for the word "house" in this verse.

History records that within a few decades of Jesus' death and resurrection, tensions between Israel and Rome resulted in disaster. The Roman army was set loose on the city in AD 70, annihilating much of the population and literally tearing the temple apart brick-for-brick.
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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