Daughters of Jerusalem
Open Your Bible
Luke 23:27-31, Psalm 56:8, Hosea 10:1-8
Text: Luke 23:27-31, Psalm 56:8, Hosea 10:1-8
I’d like to nominate elevators as one of the most awkward spaces on the planet. You can go through most days refusing to acknowledge other people exist if you want to, but step onto an occupied elevator and you’re stuck. You know the other person is there. They know you know they’re there. You know they know you know they’re there. So you have 3 choices: stare straight ahead (awkward), stare at your phone (still pretty awkward), or look at the person (super awkward).
Most of us choose Option A.
Jesus could have easily gotten away with ignoring the women crying out to Him as He walked along the dusty road, beaten and nearly naked, making the painful journey to an awful death. Yet even more remarkable than the fact that He brought His eyes up met theirs, or that He spoke to them in the midst of His suffering, is what He chose to say:
Turning to them, Jesus said, ‘Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for Me, but weep for yourselves and your children.” (Luke 23:28, HCSB)
Jesus shifts the object of the their sympathy and mourning from Him back to themselves.
Why does He do this? Who are these women to whom the suffering Christ delivers a gentle but stern warning in the most striking of circumstances?
The women are noted to be citizens of Jerusalem, a center of religion that fervently rejected Jesus of Nazareth. We aren’t told exactly why they are following Jesus in a situation when many of His own have turned away. Perhaps they recognized glimpses of the divine in His words and actions and were following as unofficial disciples. Or maybe, and probably most likely, they were simply “good” religious folks who pitied Jesus and lamented the extreme cruelty being shown an innocent man.
More important than the motive behind their mourning are these three simple-yet-profound facts about their brief encounter with Christ:
He sees their tears. Jesus looks up from His own pain to acknowledge theirs. Yes, He was the divine Son of God suffering for the sin of humankind, and yes, they were members of that sinful race. Nevertheless, Jesus sees their tears, just like He sees mine and yours (Psalm 56:8).
He acknowledges their sorrow but redirects it to the proper place. Jesus quotes the words of the prophet Hosea when He describes the enormity of the sorrow to come for those who reject Him. In Hosea chapter 10, the people of God respond to fruitfulness and blessing not by turning toward God but turning toward themselves and their false gods. The consequences of this separation from God are severe—so severe that the people cry out for death to swallow them in their misery.
Jesus’ warning to the women on the Via Dolorosa that day was not an empty threat; it was the compassionate prophesy of a loving Savior who knows the natural way of a soul separated from the Father. I like commentator Matthew Henry’s explanation of Christ’s response when he says, “Let us weep, not for him (Jesus), but for our own sins, and the sins of our children, that were the cause of his death; and weep for fear (such were the tears here prescribed) of the miseries we shall bring upon ourselves, if we slight his love, and reject his grace.”
But Jesus does not leave the daughters of Jerusalem with a look and a warning that day. Which brings us to glorious #3—
He answers their grief with the ultimate display of love. The God who sees our every tear, who knows every hope and pain from whence they come, is the God who walked bruised and bleeding up the hill of obedience, called Calvary, and gave His very life to purchase our pardon. As NT Wright puts it, “The cross is the place where, and the means by which, God loved us to the uttermost.”
The God who views our tears as so precious that He keeps record of them in His book is the same God who says, “Don’t weep for me. Weep for yourselves.” For we are the sinful ones, Sisters, and He is all-holy. But through Christ’s work on the Cross, we are hidden in Him and brought eternally and indelibly near to God (Colossians 3:3). Thanks be to God!