April 4, 2017

It’s okay to cry

As Jesus carried His cross to Calvary, He was a bloody sight. He had been beaten, mocked, abused and scourged. “. . . His appearance was so marred, beyond human semblance, and his form beyond that of the children of mankind.” (Isaiah 52:14)

When some women in the crowd saw that He was bleeding, lacerated, and bruised so badly, they could not stop crying in pity and sorrow. But Jesus stopped the procession and said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children.” (Luke 23:28)

I’ve not seen the movie that focuses on the horror of His death, but heard vivid descriptions. Sometimes I imagine the scene and weep for His suffering, yet mingled with that sorrow is the shame I feel for my part in it. Jesus suffered and died for me! He was scorned and put to shame for my sin. I am part of the reason for Calvary. Did the women on the streets that day realize that He was suffering for their sake? If they had, their wailing would be far worse, at least it seems it would be.

Today’s devotional reading says that they were crying for the wrong reason, for pity and because He was so helpless. Is that the wrong reason to weep? In my mind, this is all they knew. They didn’t realize at the time that He was going to His death as a winner, not a loser. They didn’t yet know that He was securing forgiveness of sin and our salvation. They were unaware that the Cross meant the end of sacrificial offerings for sin. Instead, they ‘wept over the cure and not the disease.’

At that point in history, all those watching this pitiful scene had no idea what was going to happen. Jesus told His disciples He would die and rise again, but they didn’t understand and even abandoned Him when He was arrested. The Romans and Jewish leaders thought this would be the end of Him. So did the weeping women and everyone else who watched His suffering.

I don’t think that Jesus’ words to the women was a strong rebuke, but more like a ‘stop and think’ comment that would come back to them later. Were these women part of the group of women who first came to the tomb? Maybe not, but the New Testament describes them and their tears for those of us who came after Jesus’ death and resurrection. We see the bigger picture, God’s amazing plan.

No one on that road to the Cross knew what would happen, but Jesus knew. Hebrews 12:2 tells readers to look to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, "who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God."

I can feel sorrow for what happened and why it happened, but would be misguided to pity Jesus. Instead, He is the winner. While He suffered excruciating pain, He also defeated death and sorrow, sin and Satan. He set sinners free and now He reigns as King over all creation.

I have a small necklace with a cross. When I wear it, I am reminded of this incredible reality: the cross where Jesus died is empty. He went from it to a tomb and from the tomb to a beach where He joyfully cooked breakfast for His astonished disciples. After being seen by more than 500 people, He rose into the sky and now rules. Jesus is not to be pitied but worshiped . . . 

“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!” (Revelation 5:12)

Those who shook their fists and mocked Jesus as He suffered might have later changed their minds when they realized death could not hold Him. However, women were the first to discover that the tomb was empty. The Bible does not say they were they the same ones who wept three days earlier, but it would not surprise me.

Jesus, I cannot rebuke or judge those women. You knew they were deeply stressed over what was happening to You and You stopped and gave them a clue to look ahead, to realize Your story was not yet over. Whatever else this incident means, it tells me to do the same, to remember that the present times of suffering can be endured because Your eternal joy is awaits me. Someday I will walk beyond all pain and into Your glorious presence. I don’t have to weep now, for me or for You, because the time will come when all tears will be wiped away and I will never, ever cry again.

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