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"As they led Him off, they made Simon, a man from Cyrene, who happened to be coming in from the countryside, carry the cross behind Him. A huge crowd of people followed along with women weeping and carrying on. At one point Jesus turned to the women and said, 'Daughters of Jerusalem, don't cry for me. Cry for yourselves and for your children. The time is coming when they'll say, 'Lucky the women who never conceived! Lucky the wombs that never gave birth! Lucky the breasts that never gave milk!' Then they'll start calling on the mountains, 'Fall down on us!' calling to the hills, 'Cover us up!' If people do this to a live, green tree, can you imagine what they'll do with dead wood?'" Luke 23:26-31 (The Message).
Small talk between Jesus and the women! He's on His last journey through the city. Exhausted and weakened by the long, sleepless night, the terrible beating He had received from the Roman soldiers, the gruelling trips through the city to Pilate, to Herod and back to Pilate, the incessant chanting and needling by the crowd, He was too weak to carry the crossbar which would support His battered body soon to be suspended on it.
Anyone else in that situation would have had no thought for the people around him. He would have been too preoccupied with his own suffering and what lay ahead to be bothered with the onlookers. Not Jesus!
He was acutely aware of the implications of what they were doing to Him. The women were not. They did not understand the reason for His dying. They saw only a bloodied Jesus, perhaps dear to them because of a loved one released from pain or sickness because of His compassion, perhaps His own beloved following of women among them.
Jesus was moved by their wailing. He understood their sorrow but He also knew something of which they were unaware. He painfully turned towards them. 'Dear women,' He said, 'Don't cry for me. My suffering is short-lived and has a purpose. Cry for yourselves because what they are doing to me today had far-reaching implications. In three day’s time I will be alive again. But your suffering will have just begun. It will be so terrible that you will wish you had never been born.'
What did Jesus know that prompted these words? Their representatives had judged Him that day but their judgment had decided their own. In the span of one generation they would cease to exist as a nation. Many thousands would be slaughtered in the city until their blood ran like a river in the streets. Their "indestructible" temple would be torn down, its stones scattered like pebbles, its gold and treasures plundered, and the city taken over by Gentiles for almost two thousand years.
They had rejected their Messiah and refused to acknowledge who He was. They had shut their ears to His message and their eyes to His love. They had seen but refused to comprehend His glory, His perfect mirror image of the Father. They thought they knew better and killed Him rather than admit they were wrong. Most of all, they were too comfortable in their greed and in their power over the people to think about their future. So they turned justice upside down and declared Him guilty and, by implication, themselves innocent.
The anguish in the heart of Jesus for these women was far greater than their anguish for Him. The outcome for Him was everything He and the Father had planned - resurrection and return to the Father, and reconciliation that would bring His alienated sons and daughters back to Himself.
But the way back to the Father is to believe and receive His offer of forgiveness and restoration. 'Your sin did this to me, but my death will set you free from the debt you owe me if you accept what I did for you and return to the Father.'
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