Luke 22:54-62; 23:1-7; 23:13-19
Thursday evening: The Last Supper, final preparatory instruction and comfort given to disciples, followed by Agony in the Garden of Gethsemane.
Early Friday morning: Jesus was Betrayed and Arrested; initially questioned by Annas (father-in-law), then sent to Caiaphas and Sanhedrin for informal trial before dawn, formal condemnation after dawn. At about 6am, Jesus’ Roman trial began, appeared before Pilate (agent of Roman emperor), then Herod (ruler of Galilee) and finally back to Pilate where, at about 8am, sentenced to death. He was scourged, then led away to be crucified. He was expected to carry the crossbar (patibulum) approximately 1/2 mile from Praetorium to Golgotha, perhaps also the placard around his neck describing his offense – Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews – later affixed to his cross.
Along this short but seemingly endless path described as Via Dolorosa, Way of Sorrows, we see Jesus. He had already collapsed from stress of his treatment and burden expected to carry; Simon of Cyrene drafted to help. Not out of merciful consideration for Jesus, Roman soldiers and Jewish leaders alike didn’t want him to die and thus escape torment and degradation of crucifixion. Perhaps even more important: it’s hard to see how some OT prophecies would have been fulfilled short of crucifixion – Psalm 22 & Isaiah 53 for example.
Jesus was object of great interest, followed through the streets by great crowd of people. Romans appreciated that, would suit their purpose of using crucifixion as a deterrent; similar to public hanging of criminals in prior years. Almost certainly a mixed crowd – those who had called most loudly for Jesus’ death; ones who had seen and heard teaching in Temple, perhaps with respect; some who had little knowledge other than what they saw that looked like a setup; intimate followers of Jesus likely including Peter and Matthew. Each had their own thoughts, their own reasons for being part of that great multitude.
A. daughters of Jerusalem
A group among larger crowd, women, outward and visibly distressed by what was happening to Jesus – they “mourned and lamented Him” (v.27); “do not weep for Me” (v.28) – not the two criminals accompanying him. Jesus addressed them as daughters of Jerusalem. This is an Old Testament way of thinking and speaking that views the residents of Jerusalem as representative of all Israelites.
It was fitting Jesus should address the nation; just a few short hours earlier the Great Sanhedrin, highest authority in Jewish culture, had rendered a final verdict on Jesus and his claims. Rejected Jesus’ claim that he had come from God the Father and did his Father’s work (Matt. 12:24; John 10:32-33); rejected Jesus’ claim to be the Messiah, the Son of God (Mark 14:62); judged him guilty of blasphemy and worthy of death (Mark 14:64).
Should not come as a surprise: in many ways Jewish trial simply a formality. Jewish people had already rejected Lord Jesus; that’s why John at beginning of his Gospel could say: “He came to his own, but his own received him not”. (John 1:11) The arrogant assurance their cause was right reached high point outside Pilate’s palace: instigated by chief priests and elders mob confidently called down a curse on themselves and children if Jesus’ death was truly unjust. (Matt. 27:25)
B. do not weep for me
In this context Jesus urged the Daughters of Jerusalem to mourn their own fate and the fate of their children more than His. They were weeping over the injustice of one man’s death, but Jesus urged them to consider something else.
Jesus’ predicament entered into voluntarily: Phil. 2:7-8 humbled himself, became obedient to death, poured himself out. Lord Jesus knew that, because of mankind’s fallen sinful state:
Q. 15: What sort of a mediator and deliverer then must we seek for?
A. For one who is very man, and perfectly righteous; and yet more powerful than all creatures; that is, one who is also very God.
Q. 16: Why must He be very man, and also perfectly righteous?
A. Because the justice of God requires that the same human nature which has sinned, should likewise make satisfaction for sin; and one, who is himself a sinner, cannot satisfy for others.
Q. 17: Why must He in one person be also very God?
A. That He might, by the power of His Godhead sustain in His human nature, the burden of God’s wrath; and might obtain for, and restore to us, righteousness and life.
Q. 18: Who then is that Mediator, who is in one person both very God, and a real righteous man?
A. Our Lord Jesus Christ: “who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.”
The Lord Jesus willingly committed himself to be that Redeemer and Mediator. Jesus traveled the road to Calvary out of love, not compulsion. Eph. 5:25 “Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” To an onlooker, appeared that Roman soldiers were in charge of Jesus’ fate; Pilate thought so, too: “Don’t you know I have power to release you and power to crucify you?” And then Jesus’ immediate response: “You could have no power at all against me unless it had been given you from above.” (John 19:10-11) He willingly offered himself as a sacrifice to God in our place. (Heb. 9:14)
desire for a large family John 17:24 “I want those you have given me to be with me where I am” The one by whom all things were created had the power to acquire brothers and sisters another way; yet he willingly redeemed those whom the Father would adopt into his family, then conform to the image of the Lord Jesus that he might be the “firstborn among many brothers”.
Jesus not to be pitied – heroes are to be praised, in this case, worshiped. Foolishness of the cross: shame and failure and disgrace and dishonor accomplished something good; the one viewed as a blaspheming failure actually the hero. Lord Jesus the only one in all of history able to conquer sin and death in place of fallen sinners.
C. weep for yourselves
Luke 19:41-44 Jesus, on Sunday, wept over Jerusalem; following Friday he tells women to do the same. What prompted Jesus to grieve for the city should cause the Daughters of Jerusalem to weep over it as well. True, Jesus knew what would occur in 70 AD with siege and eventual fall of Jerusalem, destruction of the Temple, horrendous hardship and loss of life; the women couldn’t know those details.
Yet Jesus’ contemporaries, if they had eyes to see could perceive as Jesus did the nature of underlying problem: minds clouded and hearts hardened by sin. The evidence was more than sufficient: by his teaching, his miracles, his perfect life, should have been no question that Jesus was truly Son of God. Men, women, boys, girls from all walks and stations of life recognized him for who he was. But only a remnant; overwhelming majority of Jewish people refused to acknowledge him as the Messiah of God.
His exhortation to women and to us: gain a true understanding of sin and sinfulness.
When a sense of sin has been awakened in us, we shall mourn, not for what Christ has suffered, but for what He suffered for us. Edersheim, Life and Times
Right understanding of nature of sin and degree of our sinfulness will cause godly sorrow of the sort which leads to repentance. (2 Cor. 7:9-10)
Sin attempts to dethrone God. It denies God’s all-sufficiency; every prodigal who leaves the Father’s house says in effect, It is better to be elsewhere. It challenges the justice of God, and dares God to do his worst. It disowns his omniscience. It despises the riches of God’s goodness. It turns his grace into license to sin. In short, sin is the dare of God’s justice, the rape of his mercy, the jeer of his patience, the slight of his power, the contempt of his love. Venning, Sinfulness of Sin
It is right that we weep tears of sorrow because of our sinfulness, of our children, of others who are strangers to God and his mercy.
Right understanding of sin and our sinfulness helps us understand greatness of what Lord Jesus actually accomplished on the cross. It is right that we weep tears of joy because our Savior willingly endured what we could not in order to achieve for us what we need. May God use both sorts of tears to draw us farther from sin and closer to him. May he use us to point others to the One who can save them from their sinfulness. And may Jesus’ blood and righteousness be an endless source of joy and thanksgiving for us.