I can’t even imagine watching anyone that I love be whipped and mocked and tormented and bullied and battered and killed. I don’t even want to think about it. Every witness of the crucifixion of Jesus was either disturbed, entertained, or indifferent while watching the events take place. One think that Jesus says in Luke 23 bothers me every now and then. Today was one of those days when the word just kind of crept up on me and irritated me. I just didn’t get it. I’m not sure I get it, but I want to share what I think Jesus was saying to the women who mourned and wailed for him on his way to the cross.
Simon helped Jesus carry that old rugged cross, and the crowd that was following the road he walked included some women who were losing it. They were supporters of Jesus, no doubt. And like any good friends would do when their loved ones are being beaten and bruised and broken before their very eyes they cry out. They scream. They wail.
Jesus, fully man and fully God, carrying his own execution tool, weighed down with the magnitude of the sin of the world turned toward them. He was tired. He was wounded. He was weary. He was in immense pain, but he turned toward them. “He turned and said to them, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep for yourselves and for your children. For the time will come when you say, ‘Blessed are the childless women, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!’ Then they will say to the mountains, “Fall on us!” and to the hills, “Cover us!” For if people do these things when the tree is green, what will happen when it is dry?”
SAY WHAT JESUS? So wait – He is literally pausing his road to the cross, the way, the truth and the life. He delayed the good Friday main event to bring this message to the women who followed him, who adored him, who spent days with him and now are crying for him. Jesus didn’t want them to cry for Him. Why?
Because He knew what was ahead, and by their grief He could tell that they didn’t understand the hope wrapped up in His existence. Their tears and immense grief, their wales and woes sprang out of hearts that didn’t believe the truth of the Gospel He had preached to them every day of their lives. They loved Him enough to follow Him, but didn’t treasure the message enough to believe it in the face of the worst thing they had seen. Oh my goodness – is this us. We weep. We cry. We wail because we don’t believe the truth of God’s word when it says that all things are working together for our good! We mourn. We mope. We drag as if these are the worst days, when we know that our hope unlocks the brightest future in the world not yet known to us.
For those without hope, without Christ, without life – there will come a day that they will beg for the mountains to fall on them. The troubles they experience will be greater than anything in this day and in this life.
In His greatest pain, He rebuked grief. In His most detrimental tribulation, He reminded His followers that death is no threat to the ONE that holds life eternal.
So what are you worried about? What are you crying about? What are you sad about? What are you wailing about? If you are a child of the King then your heart has hope. Grieve for those without hope. Give them the Gospel. Though your heart is heavy He is a lifter.
Not too long after that Jesus says some words that are more famous than the verse from earlier. He says, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” He was talking about the wailing women, the brutal soldiers, the criminals to His left and His right – and you and me.
I have to shake my head at myself and receive this rebuke. What am I crying about? Where is my faith? Do I believe the gospel message, or am I just following along so that I can say that I know the story. Forgive me father, for my unbelief shows up most in my grief. When I’m fussing and cussing and angry and wailing and downtrodden and acting a fool – like those who have no hope. We don’t have to cry for what Jesus experienced. We need to cry for ourselves when we don’t trust in His victory! and for the generations that come after us that pick up our bad habits of losing hope.
Deep breaths! Sigh! Oh my Jesus! I need to be reminded in my times of little faith –
I have hope! In the face of all hell breaking loose. I have YOU, Jesus!
Psalm 42:11 Why am I discouraged?
Why is my heart so sad?
I will put my hope in God!
I will praise him again—
my Savior and my God!