“And there followed him a great company of people, and of women, which also bewailed and lamented him.
But Jesus turning unto them said, Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves for and your children.
For, behold, the days aye coming, in the which they shall say, Blessed aye the barren, and the wombs that never bare, and the paps which never gave suck;
Then shall they begin to say to the mountains, Fall on us; and to the hills, Cover us.
For if they do these things in a green tree, what shall be done in the dry?”
Way of Sorrow!
The Way of the Cross!
On that way the Saviour was walking in the most literal sense of the word when the incident took place which is related in our text!
What a contrast this exit of Jerusalem made to the royal entry only the Sunday before, called: Palm Sunday! Then, you remember, He made His triumphal entry into the city of David riding upon an ass’s colt, accompanied with a great procession, multitudes of people waving palm branches and calling exuberantly, “Hosanna to the Son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest!” Now it is Good Friday morning, and He makes His exit as a worthless evil doer! One worthy to be executed! And that, too, under the shrill cry of a wild mob, led by a Roman guard, with two malefactors, to be hanged on a cross!
How quickly and drastically the scenes change!
From the praetorium, where the soldiers had mocked and oppressed Him, and where He had been sentenced to death, Jesus is led through the midst of the city. Most probably this exodus was over the longest route. It was the custom of the day to make a public spectacle of the condemned. So the victim was paraded through the streets with a sign on his back, identifying him with his crime. Out to the place of the skull He is brought!
Two things, the evangelist informs us, that deserve special attention! Two things that stand out as happening along the way!
The first relates to Simon, the Cyrenian, who was forced to bear the cross after Jesus. A most beautiful example of discipleship!
The other, concerns Jesus’ rebuke of Jerusalem’s weeping daughters! And it is this scene that especially calls our attention now!
Jerusalem’s mourners rebuked!
Not unusual was the fact that a multitude of people should be present on an occasion of this kind! Nor was it unusual that at such times there should be women weeping!
Yet now all was quite out of the ordinary!
Not only does the text imply that here was a multitude exceeding great, but especially we observe the oddity that the women were weeping for Jesus! Were there not two others who were being led away to be crucified? Yet the Lord indicates that the weeping was not for them, but for Himself!
Strange, too, that the Lord does not sympathize with it!
Rather, it merits His stern rebuke!
Jerusalem’s daughters sharply rebuked!
They were not those honorable women who had followed Jesus during His ministry and served Him of their goods. For such the Lord has no rebuke, except to Marthas who, indistinctionfrom the Marys, are more concerned about feeding Jesus than they are that Jesus should feed them! Such will get from Him a loving rebuke. But these women are not of those who, realizing that the Lord had not a place to lay His head, softened His pillow, and carefully drew a blanket over Him while He rested. They are not of those who presently stand afar off at the spectacle of the cross on the hill of the skull!
Nor are they just women, women one could find anywhere throughout Judea or Galilee!
But daughters of Jerusalem!
Of Jerusalem that always stoneth the prophets, and killeth those who are sent unto her! Of Jerusalem that is apostate!
And they weep! A peculiar and a particular lamentation!
O, indeed, it was common occurrence to see weeping women on occasions such as this. Perhaps out of curiosity they would follow such a procession, and out of sympathetic emotion for the condemned they thought to lend pity to the accused, or request leniency of the oppressors!
But here was no ordinary lament!
Their emotions run away with them when they see Jesus! No doubt they saw a difference between Jesus and the other two who were going with Him to their death. Was not innocence written all over Jesus’s face? Indeed, He was the Lamb that is led to the slaughter! And that innocent; spotless Lamb stood out, even though His holy beauty shone through a bloody brow, and a face that was marked with pain and suffering! Even Pilate had attested to His innocence! How different He appears from those other two! They were evildoers, with guilt imprinted in every wrinkle on their faces. And now look at Jesus! The difference is too great to go unnoticed!
Their eyes well with tears, and their voices break forth with loud wailing!
Their crying is evidently well-meant! They want Jesus to know that their lamentation was especially for Him. And so the Lord also interpreted it!
Weep not for Me!
Sharp, and apparently cruel rebuke!
Could not the Lord reward their seeming kindness with some semblance of appreciation? Whereas all the rest were venting their vile hatred and screaming their anathemas, could He not at least be thankful that there were some who had an ounce of sympathy? Should He not rather have complimented them for their special interest? Is not this rebuke entirely out of place?
No! A thousand times,
No! O, indeed, weeping is necessary! It is surely the time for weeping! But not for Jesus! Weep not for Me!
Why not? Especially for two reasons!
In the first place, Jesus did not need their sympathy! If anyone must show pity, He must, not they! Besides, what He now suffers, He is doing of His own will and choice! Moreover, this suffering will be the way to His glory! Should that ever be an object of pity, and evoke tears of sympathy? Indeed not! Rather, it was proper to rejoice and to sing with holy joy!
And secondly, Jesus did not desire such weeping! Tears of tender feelings which are not the expressions of conscious guilt and repentance, He counts as worthless. And if these women had had a consciousness of their own and their nation’s sins, it would have been better to have wept for themselves. And there is reason for them to weep over themselves!
But weep for yourselves and for your children!
Notice how this rebuke covers more than one generation! Jesus evidently saw the children carried on the arms of Jerusalem’s daughters. These children, perhaps more than the mothers who bear them, were presently to witness Divine retribution and judgment for Jerusalem’s sins. Not so, that the children must suffer for the sins of their parents. The Lord is righteous to give unto every man as his work shall be! But we must remember that in the generations of the wicked sin develops. Such is definitely the case here. These daughters are the children of those who always killed the prophets. That sin is developed in these daughters who are of Jerusalem which was now slaying the One of whom all the prophets spoke, the Son, the Heir. And their children would presently walk on in that same sin even in the light of the New Dispensation, behind the day of Pentecost and the enlightened Gospel age! And with this fuller revelation make themselves yet more guilty when they walk in the sin of their sires!
If Jerusalem’s daughters, therefore, would see their own end and that of their sinful generations, they would begin weeping now and never stop weeping!
Indeed, this is a deserved but sharp rebuke!
A significant reason!
For, behold, the days are coming!
Days of judgment! Not merely, you understand, judgment of the last day, when God shall judge all the secrets of men! That, too, of course! That day is coming! But the Lord evidently has in mind a judgment that was imminent, and contemporaneous with that generation! Prophetically the Lord is pointing to impending doom for these daughters and their children! Literal destruction of Jerusalem, which is always a precursor of the final destruction and judgment that cometh upon all the world! Days they will be when the righteous shall be acquitted, perfectly justified; but the wicked justly condemned. As surely as the wicked have earned just judgment by their wicked acts, so shall they receive just retribution!
How terrible are those days which the Lord predicts!
So terrible shall they be that they shall call the barren blessed! Never before was it ever said that the barren are blessed! Always she that was barren was considered accursed! But now, she that has no children will be better off than she that has borne them! Not, you understand, does the Lord mean to say that in the judgment the barren woman is more blessed than those who gave suck. Rather, He is only stating the sad wish of those who are lost, just as He does in the remainder of the prophetic announcement.
“Then shall they begin to say to the mountains, Fall on us; and to the hills, Cover us.” This can only mean not only that they will want to hide from the face of the Judge, but more particularly, they will express the hope of annihilation; sudden death, when that judgment comes.
For the mountains will not fall on them, neither shall the hills cover them in that day! All of this prophetic and descriptive language must serve to depict the awful anguish that shall come upon this generation, and all other wicked generations in the day of the Lord’s wrath!
Surely there is reason for Jerusalem’s daughters, who represent the wombs out of which the wicked generations of the church are born, to weep and howl for the miseries that shall come upon them. There is no possibility of escape. Swift and sure is the judgment! And they will surely say these things!
And the ground for this prophetic announcement?
“For if they do these things in a green tree, what shall be done in the dry?”
The green tree! That is Christ and all who are living in and out of Him! Christ is the living tree; believers and their spiritual seed, who are bound to Him by a living faith, are the branches. The church in the narrowest sense of the word, according to the election of grace with Christ as the Head, is the green tree!
The dry wood! All who come into contact with the Christ and His cross as its enemy! Whether Jew or Gentile, all who through history have crucified the Christ and continued to do so, they are the dry wood. Apostate Jerusalem, of whom these daughters are representative, is the highest development of this dry wood that always killed the prophets and those sent unto her!
Once was the dry wood green! Originally, from the organic and historical point of view, it had its origin in the green tree. Historically all the dry wood can be traced to believing parents. The tree in history produces green but also dry wood; not only Abel, but also Cain; not only Jacob, but also Esau; not only believers, but also unbelievers; not only elect, but also reprobate!
Always the dry kills and tortures the green. The green must seal its faith with its blood! And now they were killing the most glorious representative of the green tree, its beauteous Head!
And what they did to my Lord, they will do always to all who believe in Him!
But it shall not continue forever!
Green wood will not burn! The fire cannot consume it! Its persecution only enhances its beauty and makes it more glorious!
But oh, that dry wood!
When it is cast into the fire of God’s wrath it shall consume away as tinder in the flame!
Therefore let Jerusalem’s daughters, yea, let all the wicked weep! For the day cometh that shall burn as an oven, and they shall be destroyed forever!
But let the righteous rejoice, even when they see their Saviour treading the via dolorosa to Calvary! From thence He shall be raised up to give them life out of death, in order that they may grow into a fruitful bough and bring forth fruit that shall be unto the praises of Him Who loved them even unto death!