Summary: The sorrow of the women and the sorrow of the Marys are contrasted within this sermon as Jesus goes to the cross.
March 14, 2012 Two Sorrows
Luke 23:27-31 A large number of people followed him, including women who mourned and wailed for him. Jesus turned and said to them, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep for yourselves and for your children. For the time will come when you will say, ‘Blessed are the barren women, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!’ Then they will say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us!’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us!’ For if men do these things when the tree is green, what will happen when it is dry?”
John 19:25 Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.
Dear friends in Christ,
When Jerusalem’s temple was being rebuilt for the first time people were crying. Some were crying tears of joy and some were crying tears of sadness. Some were happy to have a temple, while others realized it was but a shadow of the old temple. There were two types of sorrows that accompanied the death of Christ, tears that are still shed today. We will look at them both, and ask for the latter of the two.
Two Types of Sorrow at the Death of Christ
I. The tears of the sympathetically polite
Psalm 113:9 says, “He settles the barren woman in her home as a happy mother of children. Praise the LORD.” This is a happy reflection of the way that God decided to populate the earth through the union of a man and a woman. God’s Word says in Genesis 1:28, God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it.” God meant children to be a blessing, not a curse.
But Jesus predicted a time when the women of Jerusalem would mourn the fact that they had children and look at the barren women as blessed. These were supposedly Jewish women who looked at children as a great blessing. What would change their minds? Suffering and death would.
One of the most shocking things that happens is when children suffer. Think about what demons did to children in the Bible. One man described that his son “has seizures and is suffering greatly. He often falls into the fire or into the water.” Think about how awful that is; for an evil spirit to maliciously torment a boy in such a way! The worshippers of Molech in Canaan had child sacrifice where they would put an infant in the red hot metal hands of their god. The child would be burnt alive. This was a demonic religion if there ever was one. It happened regularly in Canaan as a part of their worship.
It isn’t easy to talk about, but there are instances in the Bible where even children of the inhabitants of Canaan were supposed to be put to death by the Israelites. When Sihon king of the city of Heshbon dug in his heels and refused to flee from Israel, Moses wrote that “the LORD our God delivered him over to us and we struck him down, together with his sons and his whole army. At that time we took all his towns and completely destroyed them—men, women and children. We left no survivors.” (Deuteronomy 2:33-34) These deaths would have served as a warning for those who were going to stick around and fight against the Israelites. Yet nonetheless, the children were not spared from God’s judgment on the cities.
It is a difficult reality to face, but children also suffer in this world of sin. They are not exempt from God’s judgment of death on this world; young and cute as they may be. Neither did God always protect them from demon possession. That’s what the Scriptures say; like it or not.
What does this have to do with tonight’s text? The women of Jerusalem decided to mourn for Jesus. It was their way of perhaps protesting against the violence of the Roman death penalty. Perhaps it was their way of being sympathetic, somewhat like when people show up at a funeral of someone who dies in an untimely or cruel way. The Bible says that they “mourned and wailed.” The words can mean to beat one self and also to sing sad songs. It was quite a production they were putting on.
We tend to be polite with people who mean well. If they felt sorry for us and sent us a condolence card at the death of our friend, we would say it was a nice gesture, even if wasn’t a Christian and the card didn’t have a Christian message. But Jesus wasn’t polite with them. He didn’t want them to feel good about what they were doing; to think that they were doing the right thing. They were putting on a show and somewhat using Jesus as a prop to reflect their own compassion; for they didn’t even really know who Jesus was and they probably didn’t really even care. Jesus was not going to give them points for good intentions or make them feel good about how compassionate they thought they were.