A great number of people followed Him, including women who kept mourning and wailing for Him.
I. THAT HUMAN DISTRESS NEVER FAILS TO REACH AND TOUCH HIM. If there were any moments in his life when he might have been preoccupied, and might not have noticed the sounds of sorrow, it was this hour of his agony, this hour when the weight of the world's sin rested on his soul, when the great sacrifice was in the very act of being offered. Yet even then he heard and stopped to console the troubled. An appeal to Jesus Christ in circumstances of sorrow is never ill-timed.
II. THAT SUCH SYMPATHY WITH JESUS CHRIST IS ENTIRELY OUT OF PLACE. "Weep not for me." Some men speak and act as if it were appropriate to express sympathy with the Savior on account of his sufferings. It is, indeed, impossible to read the story of his last hours, and realize what it all meant, without having our sympathetic feeling very keenly quickened; but Jesus Christ does not ask that we should express to him, or to one another, our sympathy with him as One that then suffered. These sufferings are past; they have placed him upon the throne of the world; they have made brighter than ever his celestial crown, deeper than ever his heavenly joy. So far as we are concerned, and so far as they speak of our sin, they may well humble us; in so far as he is concerned, we rejoice with him that he "was perfected through suffering.'"
III. THAT A HOLY SOLICITUDE FOR OURSELVES AND OURS IS OFTEN THE MOST APPROPRIATE SENTIMENT. "Weep for yourselves, and for your children." We know well what reason these Jewish women had, both as patriots and as mothers, to be concerned for the fate that threatened their country and their homes. Our Lord certainly would not condemn, would not disparage, an unselfish sympathy. He who wept at Bethany, and whose law of love was the law that covered and inspired a gracious burden-bearing (Galatians 6:2), could not possibly do that. Indeed, we seldom stand nearer to his side than when we "weep with them that weep." But there are many times when we are tempted to be troubled by our brother's smaller difficulty instead of being concerned about our own much greater one. Do not be blind to the bodily pains or the circumstantial struggles of your neighbor; but look eagerly and earnestly to the rent which is opening in your own reputation, to the gap that is increasingly visible in your own consistency, to the fact that you are palpably descending the slope which leads down to spiritual ruin.
IV. THAT THERE ARE SAD EXTREMITIES OF EVIL WHEN NOTHING IS LEFT BUT A HOPELESS CRY. (Ver. 30.)
V. THAT SIN AND PUNISHMENT BECOME DEEPER AND NEARER AS TIME GOES ON. The green tree is exposed to the consuming fire; but the green tree in time becomes the dry, and how much more certain and more fierce then will be the devouring flame! The nation goes from bad to worse, from the worse to the worst; from dark to darker guilt, from condemnation to calamity. So does a human soul, unguided by heavenly truth and unguarded by holy principle. At any and every time in danger, its peril becomes continually greater as its guilt becomes constantly deeper. Go not one step further in the course of sin, in the way of worldliness, into the "far country" of forgetfullness. Each step is an approach to a precipice. Return on thy way without a moment's lingering. - C.
Daughters of Jerusalem.
The Weekly Pulpit.I. WHY DID THE DAUGHTERS OF JERUSALEM WEEP?
1. He was innocent. All they had heard about Him was favourable.
2. He was benevolent. His gifts were uncommon and priceless. Wherever He went, He left behind Him the footprint of mercy.
3. He was the hope of the people. The glory had departed; the land was under a curse, and the people groaned under the Roman yoke. But Jesus, although opposed to every public demonstration in His favour, had, by His teaching and example, aroused the public aspiration.
II. WHY DID JESUS REFUSE THEIR SYMPATHY? — "Weep not for Me."
1. Weep not, My death is a necessity. It is not an accident, or the effect of unrestrained animosity, but the fulfilment of an old covenant, older than the earth or the heaven. Justice demands it before the prisoners of hope can come forth.
2. Weep not, I can bear it all. Hard as it may seem to bear the reproach as an evil-doer, and to suffer the enmity of those whom I have not offended, yet, my heart's desire is to suffer in the sinner's room.
3. Weep not, tears will avail nothing now. The plea of the tear is the most effective. Had the appeal of the tear been made before Pilate, humanly speaking, the evidence might have been taken, and the prisoner acquitted, but then it was too late. Weeping did not make the cross lighter, or the pains of death any the less.
4. Weep not, the course I am to take will ultimately wipe away all tears. The sorrow of to-day will be exchanged for peace and joy hereafter. The death on the cross will remove sorrow from the heart of the penitent, and tears will cease to flow.
III. WHICH, THEN, IS THE RIGHT CHANNEL OF TEARS? "Weep for yourselves and for your children." Sin is the cause of sorrow.
(The Weekly Pulpit.)
I. Let us consider them as addressed to that part of the multitude WHO HAD BELIEVED IN HIS DIVINE MISSION, and submitted to His authority. Their sorrow for our Lord did not spring from the proper source. His truest disciples partook of the common misapprehensions of their countrymen about the nature of Messiah's kingdom. Yet sorrow was their proper mood of feeling. And why, my friends, should they have wept for themselves and their children, in looking upon the sufferings of their Lord?
1. We reply, because their sins occasioned Christ's sufferings. It were well for us oftener to weep thus for ourselves.
2. They should have wept for themselves and their children, because they should no more hear Christ's instructions.
II. ANOTHER CLASS, BESIDES TRUE BELIEVERS, MINGLED IN THE CROWD, WHICH ATTENDED CHRIST TOWARDS CALVARY. Let us consider the application of our text to them. It was the natural feelings, which prompt us to take part in any circumstances with the distressed, and which are pained, when innocence, or, at least, benevolence is oppressed, that caused their tears to pour down. Bight and worthy were these emotions, so far as they went; but they had deeper cause for sorrow than anything they thought of when they wept. They should have wept for themselves and for their children.
1. Because away from them were about to be taken the word of salvation, the admonitions and warnings of the Lord.
2. They should have wept for themselves and for their children, because this act by which Christ was taken away would speedily bring judgment upon their nation. To this our Lord had most express reference, as He showed by the language which follows the text.
I. He said to the weeping women, "WEEP NOT." There are some cold, calculating expositors who make it out that our Lord reproved these women for weeping, and that there was something wrong in their sorrow — I think they call it "the sentimental sympathy" of these kind souls. Blame these women! No, bless them again and again. It was the one redeeming trait in the dread march along the Via Dolorosa; let it not be dreamed that Jesus could have censured those who wept for Him. These gentle women appear in a happy contrast to the chief priests, with their savage malice, and to the thoughtless multitude with their fierce cry of "Crucify Him, crucify Him!" They seem to me to have shown a noble courage in daring to express their sympathy with one whom everybody else hunted to death.
1. There can be nothing ill about the weeping of these women, and therefore let us proceed to say, first, that their sorrow was legitimate and well founded. It is little marvel that they should weep and bewail when they saw the innocent one about to die.
2. I think, too, that this weeping on the part of the women was a very hopeful emotion. It showed some tenderness of heart, and tenderness of heart, though it be but natural, may often serve as a groundwork upon which better and holier and more spiritual feelings may be placed.
3. Having said this much, we now add that on our Lord's part such sorrow was fitly repressed; because after all, though naturally good, it is not more than natural, and falls short of spiritual excellence. It is no proof that you are truly saved, because you are moved to great emotions whenever you hear the details of the crucifixion, for the Bulgarian atrocities excited you equally as much. I think it good that you should be moved, as I have said before, but it is only naturally and not spiritually good. This feeling, too, may stand in the way of something a great deal better. Jesus would not have these women weep for one thing, because they were to weep for another thing which far more seriously demanded their weeping. Ye need not weep because Christ died one-tenth so much as because your sins rendered it necessary that He should die. To weep over a dying Saviour is to lament the remedy; it were wiser to bewail the disease.
II. Now we pass on from "Weep not" to "WEEP." Though Jesus stops one channel for tears, He opens another and a wider one. Let us look to it.
1. First, when He said, "Weep for yourselves" He meant that they were to lament and bewail the sin which had brought Him where He was, seeing He had come to suffer for it; and He would have them weep because that sin would bring them and their children into yet deeper woe.
2. I beg you now to look again into the reason why our Lord bade them weep. It was, first, for their sin, but it was next for the impending punishment of their sins.
(C. H. Spurgeon.)
(J. R. Andrews.)
What shall be done in the dry?
I. THE GLORY AND DESTRUCTION OF THE GREEN TREE. In meditating upon the glory of the green tree, we had better keep the substance of it and the shadow of it apart from each other. To do so, we will look first at the natural tree, and next at the Saviour, who is represented by it. In the midst of yonder wilderness, overrun with all manner of weeds and poisonous plants, there lies an humble patch of dry, bare ground. From the midst of the dry, barren ground, where nothing ever grew before, there rises up a young tree, tall and fair to look upon. Higher and higher it grows, until its shadow falls upon the tops of the loftiest trees around it; higher and higher, until all the trees in the wilderness are but weeds when compared with it. Now turn to the reality. Christ is that tree of God. In his birth, He grew out of ground that was barren. As a man, He grew in stature, and wisdom, and favour, and glory, until there was none such upon the face of the earth; until tie stood alone as the great tree of life in the midst of the perishing; until He bid fair to stretch forth His branches to the uttermost ends of the world. Look back to the green tree. How beautiful it is! It has no crooked boughs, or twisted branches. There are no worm eaten or withered leaves: every leaf is as fresh as when first unfolded from the bud. There are no weather-beaten, time-stained flowers: every flower is perfect. There are no bitter or rotten fruits: all its fruits are ripe and uninjured. From the lowest root to the highest leaf, it is without a fault. Behold in this some faint picture of Jesus. His birth was as pure as the creation of an angel. His childhood was as spotless as sunshine. His thoughts were as clear as the river of God. His heart was a well of love. His soul was a great deep of light. His life was unstained by the shadow of evil. He was the admiration of angels. He was the joy of God! Look back again to the green tree. Mark its promise. Leave that tree untouched, and what will it become? Will it not reach up to heaven, and spread till it overshadows the world? Who will it leave without a shelter? What diseases will it not cure? What hunger will it not satisfy? Will it not grow into a universal blessing? Behold in this the shadow of Jesus! Had He dwelt upon earth until now, what would He not have done for mankind! If in three years He healed such crowds of diseased persons, what multitudes would He have cured in eighteen centuries! Oh, when we think of it, the glory of that green tree of God! Wonderful, wonderful Jesus! how can we now turn from the brightness of Thy glory, to the gloom of Thy sorrow? Oh! who shall tell the tale of destruction? The axe and the flame from beneath, and the glittering arrows from above, stripped and rent, and levelled all Thy glory. Thou wast slain and buried off the face of the earth!
II. And now I pause; and turn from Christ's cross to CHRIST'S QUESTION — "What shall be done in the dry?" We have looked for a few moments at the glory and destruction of the green tree. We turn to the shame and end of the dry. Look then, O unconverted man or woman, at that dry tree. It is springtime: thousands of plants around are putting forth green leaves; but not a leaf appears upon it. It is summer: the gardens are white, and many-coloured with flowers; but it stands as bare as it stood in spring. It is autumn: the orchards are golden and red with fruit; but it remains black and dead. Sinner I thou art that dry tree. Thousands around you are fruitful trees in the garden of God; they bring forth ripe faith, and tender love, and sweet hope, and mellow peace, and the fruits of joy and humility. God gathers their fruit in its season, and rewards them an hundredfold. But you are barren, without faith, without love, without hope, without peace, without joy, without humility; you stand unmindful alike of God's commands, of God's warnings, and of God's forbearance — a withered cumberer of the ground. But the evil is still worse. You are taking up the room which others might occupy with advantage to the world, were you but removed. Look again, O unconverted man or woman, at that dry tree. The showers that soften the folded buds, and spread open the tender leaves of living trees in springtime, rain down upon it in abundance; but, alas; it only rots the more. The sunshine that ripens many a flower into fruit, and sweetens many a fruit into maturity, beams down upon it from day to day; but, alas! it only decays the faster. Sinner! thou art that dry tree. The gospel, which has softened many hard hearts, has made yours more callous. God's mercies help to make you worse. Like the cross, the chief of all His gifts to you, they are "the savour of death unto death." Before I conclude, I would give you all a word of warning, and a word of encouragement. Remember, O unconverted man or woman, that this fearful question," What shall be done in the dry?" remains still unanswered. As certain as I see the sufferings of Jesus, I see the sufferings of the lost. I can doubt no more. Penitent, a word to thee. In my bitter text there is some sweetness for thee. Penitent, if they have done these things in the green tree, why should you die? If Jesus died, why should net you live? What if He died for you!
(H. G. Guinness.)
(C. H. Spurgeon.)
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