Jesus, the beloved teacher and rumoured rescuer of the nation of Israel is marched, bleeding, to his death. But he warns of worse things to come. What could be worse?
Luke 23:26 – 31
The crucifixion of Jesus
26 As the soldiers led him away, they seized Simon from Cyrene, who was on his way in from the country, and put the cross on him and made him carry it behind Jesus. 27 A large number of people followed him, including women who mourned and wailed for him. 28 Jesus turned and said to them, ‘Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep for yourselves and for your children. 29 For the time will come when you will say, “Blessed are the childless women, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!” 30 Then
‘“they will say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us!’
and to the hills, ‘Cover us!’”
31 For if people do these things when the tree is green, what will happen when it is dry?’
What a picture! A beaten and bloodied Jesus struggling up
the hill, needing help from a stranger to carry the cross. Behind
him, many followers who have sat with him, seen his miracles,
believed his claims he was God’s chosen one to save them. Luke particularly
points out the large number of women following Jesus, daring to be identified
with this condemned ‘criminal’, Jesus. Their love for him makes them
brave. Even as Jesus walks, rejected and mocked, they continue to follow
him. What incredible examples of being a Jesus-follower.
But Jesus turns back to them with some very strange warnings. He says there is worse than this to come. There is a coming time so awful that even those who have known the pain of never being able to have children will be considered better off than those with children! A time so desperate that people will wish they were killed in a landslide rather than face what’s coming. This is gut-wrenching horror Jesus describes. But what on earth is he alluding too?
Two cross-references in this passage in Luke point us to passages, in Hosea 10 and Revelation 6, that explain further. Jesus quotes part of Hosea 10, which warns Israel that the consequences of rejecting God as their king are great distress and punishment. And Revelation 6 gives a warning in a similar vein, where all those who have belittled and rejected God on earth now cower in fear when he appears on his throne to judge the living and the dead. Trusting or rejecting Jesus has serious consequences.
We see Jesus walks to the cross to pay the very high price for us to be made right with God again. He continues to teach and warn people that salvation is found only in him and urges them to turn to God as their King, or else face the inevitable judgement. It’s a call we must all obey. It’s a call Jesus died and suffered to give us. That’s what makes good Friday good- we’ve been spared!
Head: Let’s not forget God shows people mercy now by not returning yet, giving more people a chance to repent. “The Lord does not delay his promise [to return], as some understand delay, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish but all to come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9
Heart: Jesus wants us to take to heart the severity of rejecting him- he is the ONLY way to be made right before God. Yet Jesus warns of this on his way to do the very thing that would save us: dying in our place! God is not a God who delights in punishment, but instead pays dearly to rescue us from judgement. Do you trust God? The consequences are literally life or death on this one. Is there someone you know you could tell about trusting God? Let this motivate you to pray to our God who delights to show mercy.
Hands: What opportunities do you have today to make it known you follow King Jesus, like the crowd and the women who followed Jesus to his cross? Getting known as a Christian at home and at work/school/uni is a great first step to pointing people to Jesus who saves.
Thank-you that by dying, Jesus makes a way for us to trust you, and spares us the awful consequences of rejecting you. I can see by the fact Jesus was willing to die for me that you are a good God who longs to show mercy. I’m sorry for the sins I’ve done that make it look like I don’t trust you as my King and rescuer. For those I know who don’t trust you yet, please have mercy on them and bring them to trust in you. Please give me the opportunity to tell them about how to trust in you. Help me to bravely follow you, the good King who dies for his people, right until you bring me into heaven and perfect peace.
In Jesus’ name, who died for me, Amen
A song to listen to: Grace Awaiting Me
Living Church – (Creek Road)