[Calvary Chapel] 1998-05-07 - The Daughters of Jerusalem

The Cross Series, Part 38

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Luke 23:27-31 And there were following Him a great multitude of the people, and of women who were mourning and lamenting Him. 28 But Jesus turning to them said, "Daughters of Jerusalem, stop weeping for Me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. 29 "For behold, the days are coming when they will say, 'Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bore, and the breasts that never nursed.' 30 "Then they will begin to say to the mountains, 'Fall on us,' and to the hills, 'Cover us.' 31 "For if they do these things in the green tree, what will happen in the dry?"

Luke's physician's eye for detail makes note of this encounter with a group of women. Why were these ladies lamenting over Jesus? Part of it was surely the physical torture and abuse of someone they knew. Could another part of it be confusion and disappointment? Their Jewish minds expected the Messiah King, and before them stood a beaten, brutalized man. Jesus had done amazing things before their eyes and they had heard even more. Now, their hopes where staggering and bleeding before them. How could the two images meet: Master teacher and healing Messiah as opposed to the battered and dying man for before them? In their minds, the two were utterly irreconcilable.

Jesus turns and says something surprising. He instructs them, even now on the way to his execution. Explaining the suffering servant to them now is not possible. He instead prophecies to them a warning. Things are not as they seem, but there is no explaining this now. Jesus has tried over and over. At times there was a glint of understanding that would shine through. It would only be lost again under the traditional Hebrew teaching of the expected Messiah King who would free Israel. Jesus will soon accomplish His purpose and win a victory that will never be equaled. Death and Sin will be conquered and finally destroyed opening the door for humanity to come to God.

But long before Jesus victorious second coming, Jerusalem will be trampled under the final section of Daniel's 70 weeks. The city will be surrounded by Titus in one of the most terrible sieges I have read. 600,000 people would perish under horrific circumstances. Bodies where simply thrown over the walls to attempt to prevent the rotting corpses from spreading disease. Those caught attempting to escape the city were either killed outright, if they were fortunate, or crucified in full view of the city walls. Eventually, cannibalism set in when hunger drove the remaining few to desperate madness. Yet, the city would not surrender. So great was the carnage that the Roman General is recorded at one point as looking to the sky and asking God not to hold the suffering against him. Finally, the city fell and the Temple, only recently completed, was burned. For 1,900 years the nation of Israel was scraped from the face of the earth and scattered to the four winds. The Christian church and the Gospel of Jesus Christ was also spread in the process.

Jesus puts the warning in terms that would make their impact deep. To be childless in our society is cause for sadness, even heartbreak, when children are desired. In the time of Jesus, it was often taken as a sign of disfavor with God. Jacob's love for Rachel was beyond question. He worked 14 years to have her hand as his bride. In this verse is an indication of Rachel's stigma in the eyes of that society. It also indicates the depth of Rachel's pain because of her childless state.

Gen 30:1-2 Now when Rachel saw that she bore Jacob no children, she became jealous of her sister; and she said to Jacob, "Give me children, or else I die." 2 Then Jacob's anger burned against Rachel, and he said, "Am I in the place of God, who has withheld from you the fruit of the womb?"

Prov 30:15-16 The leech has two daughters, "Give," "Give." There are three things that will not be satisfied, four that will not say, "Enough": 16 Sheol, and the barren womb, earth that is never satisfied with water, and fire that never says, "Enough."

Jesus tells these Daughters of Jerusalem that the childless ones will be called blessed. Watching a child suffer from a injury or sickness is hard enough. To watch them die of starvation, or to have to try to take them, or worse leave them, in an attempt to escape is unimaginable. The women without children would be spared this and would ironically be called blessed.

The last verse is a bit cryptic. Of the possible readings, the one that makes the most sense is a continuation of the warning of the coming destruction of Jerusalem. If the Romans would render this kind of suffering in a state of relative peace, what would be expected in a state of war? The trial of Jesus by the Sanhedrin and Pilate were replete with illegalities. Herod and Pilate had not found Jesus guilty of anything. The Sanhedrin had broken rule upon rule in the prosecution of Jesus. And yet, Jesus was still marching to His crucifixion. What more would be permitted in time of war?

Perfect hindsight tells us why He allowed it. These Daughters of Jerusalem could not see their Messiah as the suffering servant of Isaiah 55. The disciples could not understand it either. The battle of the ages raged in front of them and they could not see it. Neither would we have seen it. Fortunately, the outcome was not dependent on us, and it was never in doubt.

Lord Jesus, as horrible as these events were, they were a stepping stone to the Gospel being sent to the gentiles. Israel had to reject her Messiah the first time to permit the Good News to spread to us. Thank you too that even when things appear to us to be out of control, You indeed have everything positioned perfectly. Give us the courage to trust in You. Amen.

Grace & Peace,

[email mike] jmhoskins@gmail.com

All verses are from the New American Standard Bible (NASB) unless otherwise noted.

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