This article on Luke 23:28 is about the emotions and the suffering of Christ, and the importance of knowledge of Christ for true repentance.

Source: Clarion, 2001. 2 pages.

Luke 23:28 - Mere Sentimentalism

Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children.

Luke 23:28

The Lamb of God was followed out to Golgotha by a group of women beating their breasts and singing funeral dirges. In the ancient near east, professional mourners were hired when a loved one passed away. These women wept aloud for Jesus. They were moved by what they had seen happen to Him: the flogging, the crown of thorns, his attempt to carry the cross. We tend to view these women as sympathizers of Jesus who supported Him. When all around Him people were ridiculing and taunting Him, would not their tears have been like balm on his wounds? At least some people care about Him!

After He was relieved of carrying the cross, Jesus showed amazing compassion. Even as He stood on the threshold of hell, He took the time to instruct these women: “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children.” Christ spoke the language of the covenant: “you and your children.” This is how God spoke to his people. To Abraham He said, “I will establish my covenant between me and you and your children after you.” When Christ looked upon these women, He saw the entire nation, the covenant people, for they are daughters of Jerusalem, that is, of the church.

And listen to what He told them: do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children.” You’re shedding tears for the wrong person. If you really knew who I was, and what is being done to me, you would weep for yourselves. It is not I who needs sympathy. By my execution, the curses of God will strike this city. O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, killing the prophets and stoning those who are sent to you. Today you are killing Him in whom all the prophetic words find their “Yes” and “Amen.” Today the Consolation of Israel is going to be nailed to the accursed tree. And thus you bring judgment upon yourself.

The tears of the women was not godly grief. It did not arise from the confession that Jesus is the Christ of God.

They only saw Him as a miracle worker and a mighty healer. In their minds, Jesus a great man, not more. To them it was a tragedy, for He was so young, only thirty years old, in the prime of his life. He had so much potential. How much misery had He not cleared away in his ministry? He had healed scores of people of paralysis, epilepsy, dropsy, fevers, blindness, deafness and more.

But they did not see Him as the Anointed of God. They wept not over their sins which had caused his suffering. They should have been sobbing with the words of David:

Have mercy on me, O God, according to thy steadfast love. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity. I have done that which is evil in thy sight so that thou art justified in thy sentence and blameless in thy judgment.

They wept instead because when the healer dies, the miracles will end. They hardened themselves against the Lord and his Anointed. Their weeping is not “a sorrow according to God” (2 Corinthians 7:9). And therefore, their weeping did not comfort Christ. It made his suffering worse. They still did not understand who He was, what He had come to do, or what was happening to him. Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me. Weep for yourselves and for your children!

In his last message to his people, Christ revealed his pity for those who refused to receive Him as the Messiah. Again He attempted to gather the children of Jerusalem together, as a hen gathers her chick under her wings.

Don’t cry over me. Believe in me! I am sent by God for your salvation. How difficult this must have been for Christ! He even rebuked and corrected those who grieved over his suffering, because He loved them. He knew the horror that awaits them who crucify the Author of Life – a judgment that would begin with the household of God.

This weeping did not strengthen but rather tested Christ. Satan wanted to prevent Christ from going to the cross. Through these women, he tempted Christ to either lessen his suffering or veer from it. But Christ rejected their tears. He did not, like them, feel sorry for Himself for his affliction. Instead, He held to the truth of the Scriptures: It is the will of my God to smite me. Therefore, Christ forbade their crying: Do not weep over me. I want to obey my Father. I want to lay down my life as an offering for sin. As He had driven mourners from the death-bed of others, so now He drove them away from his own “deathbed.” He would not despair with them over his imminent death. He believed that God would not let his holy one see corruption, that God would raise Him from the dead and turn the cross from an instrument of death into a fountain of life for all who believe in Him.

Christ would rebuke many of God’s people today for misguided emotions over his suffering, just as He rebuked these women. While meditating on Christ’s suffering in church, we can become sentimental, even moved to tears. And yet when Monday rolls around, we are living our life the way we want again, instead of the way we heard proclaimed from the pulpit and celebrated at the table. But Jesus stands in the church and says, Do not weep over me. Weep over your sins and embrace me as your only Saviour as the One who fully paid for all your sins with my precious blood.

True repentance is often what our lives lack. To repent is first of all “to grieve with heartfelt sorrow that we have offended God by our sin.” Whatever sad feelings we might have for Jesus and his incomparable suffering, they might be nothing more than worldly grief, the kind manifested by the daughters of Jerusalem. Worldly grief produces death. But godly grief produces repentance that leads to salvation. Let us guard against religious sentimentalism that does not produce obedience to God. Do the will of the Father in heaven for then we show ourselves to be His sons and daughters.

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