Station VIII: Christ Speaks to the Women of Jerusalem

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, and for your children. (Luke 23:27,28)

In the Gospel narratives of Christ’s climb to Golgotha, Jesus speaks only once, stopping to address the wailing women of Jerusalem who have walked beside him. I wonder if this public lamentation was genuine or just the ritualized show of grief traditional in Middle Eastern countries. Jesus had little patience for such false displays of emotion. He sent the professional mourners packing, when he came to restore life to the daughter of Jairus in Mark 4:35-42. He, certainly, has a chilling message for these weeping women of Jerusalem.

Save your tears, Jesus tells them in Luke 23:29-31, for the time is coming, when mothers will regret they ever brought children into the world and will cry out for the rocks to fall upon them and for the earth to bury them. His apocalyptic words came true some three decades later in 70 A.D., when the troops of Imperial Rome brutally crushed a Jewish revolt, sacking Jerusalem, destroying the Temple, and slaughtering the city’s inhabitants.

Jesus knew real tears. This prophetic warning was torn from his heart. During his triumphal entry into Jerusalem, Christ sees the city from afar and weeps, knowing “they will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you (Luke 19:41-44 (NIV).”

Just how much Christ loved this city, which had sealed its doom by rejecting his message of peace and reconciliation, comes through in a beautiful gender-bending image in Luke 13:24, when he mourns Jerusalem with the lament: “How often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not!”

The Old Jerusalem was razed to the ground, but the Bible speaks of a New Jerusalem, which will come down from heaven at the end of time, a celestial city, where “God shall wipe away all tears…and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things have passed away (Revelations 21:4).

When I give way to doubting and despair, help me to remember that those who sow in tears shall reap in joy. Amen.