“But Jesus turning unto them said, Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves, and for your children” (Luke 23:28).
Such words spoken at such a moment! “Weep not for me,” said our blessed Lord, as He passed from Gabbatha to Golgotha, from Pilate’s judgment hall to the cross at Calvary, “but weep for yourselves and for your children.”
Resent their sympathy He did not, nor did He under-estimate the lamentation of these daughters of Jerusalem; but, knowing the future of that unhappy city and its approaching desolation, He could contrast His own sufferings with those which should, ere long, befall its children. These are His only recorded words on that short journey. He stood within a few yards of the place of execution and of an agonizing death. He knew all that lay before Him, just as He felt all the effects of the mockery, indignity, cruelty and scourging through which He had already passed; but calm and self-possessed, and mindful, as ever and always, of others rather than of Himself, He could pause on that awful road, turn round, and bid these troubled mourners to weep not for Him, but for themselves. If they lamented for Him, He lamented for them. They could see what was happening to Him; He could foresee what should happen to them.
If He, the green tree, should suffer thus at the combined hands of Jew and Gentile, what should not be the fate of the dry and sapless stock of Israel, when the Roman power should let loose its full fury upon it? The crash of mountains and hills would be sued in vain. Mercy at the hand of man would be unknown. The streets of the city should flow red with blood. If there were no mercy for the green tree, how much less for the dry? History tells us the nature of the siege of the city.
But what think ye of the Man who could thus calmly, in such a crisis and in such overwhelming circumstances, speak so kindly, so wisely, so unerringly, could lift the curtain of the future on others, while His own was falling so darkly on Himself?
Yes, what think ye of such a Man?
Concentrate your thoughts on Him. His words were no threat, no empty cry for just retribution. They were the unimpassioned statement of One to whom every event was foreknown. One who, if Man, was at the same time God; and who, in the course of only a few minutes’ respite, could say at the first shock of crucifixion: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Not a trace of retaliation nor revenge! What a Man! What fruit did not that Green Tree bear always, but most and richest when the storm beat its heaviest and worst.
Again, “What think ye of Christ?”