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 to the mountains, ‘Fall down on us!’ calling to the hills, ‘Cover us up!’ If people do these things to a live, green tree, can you imagine what they’ll do with deadwood?” (Luke 23:27-31, The Message. See also Luke 8:40-56.)
Among the crowd lining the road to Golgotha is a knot of women who weep loudly. Very loudly. It’s their job to weep loudly. They are professional criers. Jesus encountered these women—or women just like them—when he went to the home of Jarius. Jarius, the leader of the local synagogue, had set aside his religious duties to find Jesus when his daughter had died. Jesus arrived at the home of Jarius to be greeted by a chorus of weeping and wailing. But Jesus was not fooled by the plastic tears shed by those women. And he is not moved by the women crying for the condemned men about to be crucified.
“Don’t cry for me,” he gasps. “Cry for yourselves. Cry for your children.” The woman don’t understand. They think they are doing God a favor by showing pity to those about to die. They know how to put on a good show. But Jesus is having none of it. He sees through their insincere emotion.
Jesus does not deal with fantasy. He wants nothing to do with religious appearances. He is carrying a very real burden up this hill. He is carrying the sin of us all. He does not want to be pitied. He wants to be received. He is not looking for sympathy. He is looking for surrender. “If you are going to cry,” he says, “cry for yourselves. Your children. The time is coming when the tears you shed will be real tears. Save your tears for those times.”
Even as Jesus is dying, he will only deal with reality. He was tempted once before with receiving false glory when Satan suggested he jump from the top of the Temple and, not suffering injury, be hailed as a living miracle. Jesus refused fame in that way then, and he is refusing the fame of false tears now.
Still he goes on up the hill where his life will soon end. And he does it without the fanfare of the women of Jerusalem.
Do I cry over injustice in order to be seen? Do I weep loud enough to attract attention to myself? Or do I identify myself in the death of the Jesus? Will I call attention to myself with visible sympathy, or will I quietly surrender to the One who took all my sins and asks only that I receive the forgiveness offered me? These are questions I must face each day. What will I do? What will you do?
Jesus, I am moved to tears at the thought of you taking my sins up that hard hill to Golgotha. I want these to be tears of sorrow for my sins, not tears that draw attention to my non-existant goodness. Forgive me for when I weep out loud for no purpose other than to be seen crying. My sins are what weighed you down in your climb to the cross. May I never use your suffering as a means of fame for me. And Jesus, help me to receive your forgiveness with gladness. Thank you for only dealing with me in reality, for I need real forgiveness.
We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you. Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.