What Jesus went through during Holy Week was something beyond my grasp. He experienced rejection, a brutal beating, disappointment at the reaction of His closest disciples, the pain of the crown of thorns, the carrying of the cross, the administering of the forty stripes, the nails in His hands, and ultimately His death.
Holy Week began as a day of triumph on Palm Sunday. People proclaimed Him as the Messiah. Towards the middle of the week He began to experience His disappointment with His closest followers. On Thursday night He experienced the betrayal of Judas. On Friday it was the unjust trial and the beginning of the march up to Calvary.
One of the very interesting parts of Holy Week for me occurred when He fell beneath the weight of the cross He was carrying. A man named Simon of Cyrene was ordered to help carry the cross. As Jesus is struggling, He hears some women who are crying for Him.
He then makes an interesting statement. He said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, don’t cry for me, but cry for yourselves and for your children.” (Luke 23:28)
Why would He say that? He was bleeding, exhausted and His body displaying the inflicted wounds. It would be natural to cry for Him.
But He told the women not to cry for Him. Their tears were misdirected. He instructed them to cry for themselves and for their children. Why would He say that?
When I read and try to relive the events of Jesus during Holy Week, tears come to my eyes. It was totally inhumane what they did to Him. Tears for Him are natural.
I’ve thought a lot about what He said about those misdirected tears. Maybe He didn’t want the women or me, crying for Him because of some of the following reasons:
1. He knew that He was doing His Father’s will. Early in His life when they thought He was lost and they found Him at the temple he said, “I must be about my Father’s business.” (Luke 2:49) He had just prayed the night before in the garden, “Not my will but your will be done.” (Matthew 26:39) Maybe the tears were misdirected because He knew He was in His Father’s will. The question for the women, for me, and for us, is “Do I know that my life right now is centered in my heavenly Father’s will?” Maybe that is why we need to cry for ourselves.
2. Maybe the tears were misdirected because He knew how to love everybody. The question for the women, for me, and for us is whether or not we really love people. Jesus made it very clear that “you love one another, even as I have loved you.” (John 13:34) The whole life and ministry of Jesus demonstrated His love for everyone. The cross was the supreme example. The question is whether or not we love all people.
3. Jesus might have said not to cry for Him because of the fact that He was already forgiving the very people who had wronged Him at that time. A little later He would say on the cross “Father forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34) The real question for the women, for me, and for us might be whether or not we are willing to forgive other people. None of us has been treated like Jesus was treated – yet Jesus lived out forgiveness.
4. Another reason He didn’t want tears to be misdirected might be the fact that He knew God’s resurrection power. He knew that this was Friday, but Sunday was coming! He had already told the people that “He must be killed and after three day would rise again.” (Mark 8:31) He had said, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me will live even though he dies.” (John 11:25)
The real question is how confidently do we know His resurrection power?
It was strange that in that situation He would tell the women not to cry for Him. I confess that I will do some crying this week but I also need to examine why He said I should be crying for myself. I am praying that God would keep before me the focus of my tears.