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There were a lot of shocking things said and done on Good Friday. This paragraph describes one you may not have considered before.

And as they led him away, they seized one Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, and laid on him the cross, to carry it behind Jesus. And there followed him a great multitude of people and of women who were mourning and lamenting for him. But turning to them Jesus said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. 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!’ Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us,’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us.’ For if they do these things when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?” (Luke 23:26-31).

Jesus could be so unsentimental.

He told those grieving would-be followers to let the dead to go bury their dead (Luke 9:60).

He told the woman who blessed his mother, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!” (Luke 11:27-28).

And he told those wondering about the murdered Galileans or about those killed by the tower of Siloam that unless they repented they would likewise perish (Luke 13:1-5).

People today would be outraged by Jesus’ insensitivity. Think about what we see in the paragraph above. There are women following Jesus, weeping and lamenting. For him! And why shouldn’t they? Jesus is a sad sight. He’s been mocked, beaten, scourged, and spat upon. He’s been led away by soldiers to die outside the city. He’s too weak to carry his own beam. He’s about to die on a shameful Roman cross. It is entirely natural that some in the crowd would be moved to tears.

Which is why Jesus’ response is so shocking.

Don’t weep for me.

Come on, Jesus. Can’t you show a little appreciation for the sentiment? At least these women feel sorry for you. At least these woman aren’t spitting upon you. You’d think he’d be grateful for a little moral support. But instead he stops them short: don’t cry for me, daughters of Jerusalem.

There is nothing wrong with their tears, except that they are in the wrong place. Jesus doesn’t stop them from weeping, as if godly people don’t show emotion. He calls them to weep . . . for themselves and for their children.

This is the seventh time he has warned of impending doom for Jerusalem (Luke 11:49-51; 13:6-9; 13:34-35; 19:41-44; 20:16; 21:20-24). Destruction will come upon the Jewish nation in AD 70. The fall of Jerusalem will be so great, Jesus says, it would be better to have no family at all. The sufferers will call on the hills to cover them, to put an end to their miserable lives. This is what will visit those who reject their Messiah.

Jesus finishes his warning with an enigmatic saying: “If they do these things when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?” In essence, it means: “If Jesus is not spared the cruelty of the cross, how will the nation of Israel escape divine judgment?” Don’t cry for the Son of Man doing the Father’s will. Cry for those who will face God’s wrath if they do not repent.

That’s why Jesus says what he says to the women in the crowd. His seeming insensitivity is not the absence of love, but the deepest expression of it. He calls them tenderly “daughters of Jerusalem.” He doesn’t want them to waste tears on what cannot and should not be altered, when they should weep and wail over a rebellion that must be surrendered.

Are you crying the right tears on this mournful day?

Hundreds of people died on a cross. Most suffered in physical torment longer than Jesus. There are ten thousand tragedies happening in this world everyday. Right now, as you read this. They deserve our sympathy and compassion. But pity not the Christ when he calls you to penitence instead.

The point of Good Friday is not to feel sorry for Jesus. Jesus does not need our sympathy. The point is to feel sorry for your sin. For if we don’t, we have good reason to weep. There will be no salvation for those who reject God’s appointed Savior.

Make this Good Friday truly good. Turn your mourning into dancing. Turn your sorrow into joy. Weep for your sin and come to Jesus. He offers you his grace and does not need your tears.


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12 thoughts on “Do Not Weep for Jesus”

  1. neville briggs says:

    The landscape of the church looks like it is headed into equally perilous times.

    Further to Jesus warning and the following judgement, we are also reminded of a very sobering word from Paul writing to the Roman Christians in which Paul warns ” If God did not spare the natural branches, He will not spare you either “

  2. Ali says:

    Amen. what a great God

    Jesus: Truly, truly, I say to you, that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; you will grieve, but your grief will be turned into joy…. Whenever a woman is in labor she has pain, because her hour has come; but when she gives birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish because of the joy that a child has been born into the world.Therefore you too have grief now; but I will see you again, and your heart will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you. In that day you will not question Me about anything. Truly, truly, I say to you, if you ask the Father for anything in My name, He will give it to you. Until now you have asked for nothing in My name; ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be made full…..These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” John 16 vs.

    one of the elders said to me, “Stop weeping; behold, the Lion that is from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has overcome so as to open the book and its seven seals.” Rev 5:5

  3. Sarah Norton says:

    What an awesome God we serve! Thank you for your perspective and truth. I am always blessed by your entries. Welcome back to the states, looks like you had a wonderful time in London preaching the word and enjoying time with your family.

  4. brian says:

    Now that was one lesson I learned from my time in the evangelical religion, God hates emotions and grief of any kind for any length of time for any reason is totally at the top of the list. Thanks you reminded me of another reason I left.

  5. Ruth says:

    Jesus wept. God gave us tears for joy, pain, pity, empathy, fear, spiritual expression, and cry at the pain He suffered, as well as the Joy He brings I certainly will. We are blessed to be free to express our deepest emotions about, and to all that is Holy. That much hardness of heart is beyond me. Faith is, I think, allowed to, and should have a wealth of emotions.

  6. Arnold Urbonas says:

    Our culture is based on emotions and feelings. This is brought out especially in advertising in the media. But God calls us to a higher calling based on Truth and repentance. May we give to God what is His, our heart, soul, mind and strength; obedience to Him.

  7. neville briggs says:

    Brian brings up a very good point. I think his objection is a bit mistaken though, as the God of the Bible is not the antithesis of emotion, e.g. a third of the Bible is poetry which speaks directly to emotions.
    What Brian seems to be referring to, is the way in which the church has become infected by such things as stoic philosophy and other types of Greek philosophy.

    It is a pity that Brian was driven off by the coldness that infects some places, I hope Brian has found his way to the loving and warm relationship that Christ offers.
    Remember how the father in Jesus’ story ran to his prodigal son, grabbed him and kissed him. Plenty of emotion there, and if that parable is depicting God then what do we make of that

  8. Pastor Bill Slack says:

    WhenI read the title, I thought “Believers don’t weep enough on Good Friday – or any other day for that matter.” But after reading it, I saw the point and I totally agree… We need to weep for the right reasons. We need to see what our sin cost our God….

  9. Cody says:

    I don’t really see why this post would be seen as encouraging people not to grieve because it ends by mentioning that terrible tragedies are happening right now. Not a very good strategy for encouraging people not to mourn. (Honestly I don’t think there is a problem with people being too emotional or not emotional enough in evangelicalism but I realize the experiences of other people are different.)

  10. neville briggs says:

    We might note that in Psalm 69 which some take to be a Messianic prophecy of Jesus’ suffering it says
    “Insults have broken my heart
    to the point that I could die
    I hoped that someone would show compassion
    but nobody did
    and that there would be comforters
    but I found none.
    They put poison in my food
    in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink ”

    It appears that explanations of Jesus mind and spirit just don’t come easily. If that psalm is prophetic then it is poetry of the most intense emotion.

  11. One issue that needs to be remembered is that Christ died so all of creation could be reconciled back to the Father. It was a act of love and sacrafice. To brake the power of sin, death and Satan. Christ showed emotion, he wept, laughed, felt sorrow, grieved, suffered, rejected, betrayed, loved. If he can do it so should His church. Look around its there in front of you. Be CHrist to others.

  12. Larry says:

    God gave us the gift of emotions to be used properly. We do not serve an emotionless God but one that directs his emotions to save us from what we deserve. Death

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Kevin DeYoung


Kevin DeYoung is senior pastor of University Reformed Church (PCA) in East Lansing, Michigan, near Michigan State University. He and his wife Trisha have six young children. You can follow him on Twitter.

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