Do Not Weep For Me - Weep For Yourselves

By Pastor Richard P. Bucher

Luke's Gospel records that as the condemned Jesus staggered through Jerusalem's narrow streets, the pitiful sight became too much for some women who were following. They broke into tears and beat their breasts in lamentation.

We understand. We've often reacted that way, too, when we've meditated on our Lord's innocent suffering. How awful that the innocent and good Jesus had to endure such harsh treatment and disgrace, such pain and execution.

Surely Jesus would be honored and pleased by this tearful adoration the women paid him. There is no indication that He was. He turned and said to them, "Daughters of Jerusalem, stop weeping for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children." For days of destruction were coming, He told them, when the barren would be considered blessed (a prophesy of the destruction of Jerusalem which happened some 40 years later, in 70 A.D.) (Lk. 23:27-31).

What a remarkable incident, and how instructive for us! This is the only word we know of that Jesus spoke on the way to His crucifixion. But it is an important word, especially for Lent. For Lent is a season of the church year when citizens of the world "line the streets of Jerusalem" to behold the suffering Savior walking by. Lent is that season when the multitude follows Him to Calvary to see the horror of His pain and death.

But the all-important question is, "How would Jesus have us respond to His suffering?" There are many daughters of Jerusalem among us today. For them, weeping for Jesus is still the response of choice. The emphasis is all on what they feel for Him. To all such, the poignant words of Christ ring out, "Stop weeping for Me, but weep for yourselves and for your children."

"Stop weeping for Me!" Jesus doesn't want our pity during Lent. He does not expect us to "feel His pain" or simply to feel depressed that something so bad happened to one so good. That is not where our focus should be. "Weep for yourselves." The weeping that Jesus looked for in the daughters of Jerusalem and still looks for in us is the weeping of repentance. Repentance that renounces sin and then firmly believes that the suffering of Jesus atones for it all.

The suffering of Jesus should move us to weep for ourselves because of our sin. For every painful step He took, every lash of the whip He felt, every word of insult He heard, and every moment of shame He suffered, happened because of the ugliness of our sin.

Our sin (yours and mine) mocked Him, scourged Him, beat Him, and drove the nails through His holy hands and feet. As the Scripture says, "He was delivered up because of our transgressions" (Rom. 4:25). All of this should move us to tears. Tears of repentance. Tears of sorrow that our sin has hurt God, our neighbors, and ourselves. Tears of mourning over the fate we deserve: eternal destruction in hell.

The Jerusalem' women could see Jesus' imminent destruction. They knew He would soon die a horrible death. That made them cry. But they couldn't see their own imminent destruction. They saw that Jesus was under a death sentence (unjustly), but they did not know that they were under the same sentence, as we all are. "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23) and "the wages of sin is death" (Romans 6:23). The daughters of Jerusalem did not understand that the awfulness of Christ's suffering should have led them to see the awfulness of their sin.

It appears that the only tragedy they saw was the unjust suffering of Jesus. The real tragedy, Jesus was telling them was the coming punishment because of their unbelief. Jerusalem's Salvation, Forgiveness, Righteousness, and Everlasting Life was right in front of them but they didn't believe in Him and receive the gift. Instead of receiving they thought only of giving: their tears, sympathy, etc.

As we meditate on our dear Savior's suffering this Lenten season, may it lead us to "weep for ourselves" tears of repentance. Both parts of repentance: (1) confessing and turning away from all our sin; (2) and then firmly believing that through the suffering and death of Jesus, every sin and failure is completely forgiven and forgotten.