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“Do Not Weep for Me” (Part 2 of 2)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg
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March 21, 2024 4:00 am

“Do Not Weep for Me” (Part 2 of 2)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg

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March 21, 2024 4:00 am

Do you choke back tears at the scene of the crucifixion? It’s certainly a heart-wrenching display, but Jesus cautioned onlookers—then and now—to make sure their sympathy is properly directed. Find out what He meant on Truth For Life with Alistair Begg.


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This listener-funded program features the clear, relevant Bible teaching of Alistair Begg. Today’s program and nearly 3,000 messages can be streamed and shared for free at thanks to the generous giving from monthly donors called Truthpartners. Learn more about this Gospel-sharing team or become one today. Thanks for listening to Truth For Life!

Truth for Life
Alistair Begg

Many of us choke back tears when we think about the crucifixion of Jesus. It's certainly a heart-wrenching event, but Jesus cautioned onlookers then and now to make sure our sympathy is properly directed. We'll find out what he meant today on Truth for Life as Alistair Begg continues our study in chapter 23 of Luke's Gospel. We're looking today at verses 26 through 31. My first heading was simply, A strange thing happened on my way to the city.

A strange thing happened on my way to the city. These words I'm putting into the mouth of Simon, who is the principal figure here, in verse 26 and 27. He was presumably a Jew living in part of the diaspora in Tripoli, in Libya, in Cyrene. And when he left his home in order to journey to Jerusalem, he surely could not have had in mind what would take place in his life on this particular visit. And as he made his way, finally, as Luke tells us, from the country into the city of Jerusalem, he was confronted by commotion, and not only was he confronted by this crowd, but he was grabbed, somewhat unceremoniously, presumably, by the soldiers, and they said to him, Hey, you, carry this. And before he knew what was involved, he was walking behind the bloodied body of this Galilean carpenter, whom, if he had not known before, he quickly discovered was none other than Jesus of Nazareth. What we have to recognize is that Simon carrying this cross behind Jesus is a reminder to us in these final moments of what it means, actually, to be a believer. The disciples of Jesus were identified as being the people of the cross. The disciples of Jesus were cross-carriers, at least metaphorically.

If we are going to make an impact in our culture along the lines that Jesus says to do in the Gospels, then this picture of Simon moving behind Jesus under the burden of the cross is a good picture to have in our minds as we anticipate another Monday morning. Because it is to our shame that we present to our culture a crossless Christ, that we are tempted to present to our culture a crossless Christianity. What would a crossless Christianity look like?

It would look like this. It would be expressed in terms suggesting that real Christianity means being successful, having it all together, knowing all the answers to the questions, never making mistakes, and striding through the world as if we owned it. In other words, my dear friends, crossless Christianity is a lot like contemporary evangelical Christianity, whereby our presentation to our culture is largely made in terms of the categories I have just given you. And it is inept, futile, useless, dangerous, and catastrophic, because it conveys to our culture a standard by which none of us live.

Right? Now, what use do they have in a crossless Christianity? What does it have to say to them?

Nothing at all. Yes, a strange thing happened. On my way to the city, I took up my cross, and I began to follow Jesus. Secondly, I wrote in my notes, Don't weep for me, Jerusalem. The shouts that had been coming from the crowd of Crucify have now abated.

Their mission has been successful. Pilate has sent him to his execution. And now you only have the ambient sound of the interaction of the people, the shuffling through the streets, the pressure into the narrow thoroughfares there around the Via Dolorosa as they begin to move into the street that will lead them finally to Skull Hill. And in the middle of the throng that follows him, there is, says Luke, a number of women among the people, and these women were mourning and wailing for Jesus. There is no suggestion here that these are the peculiar friends of Jesus.

Remember that there were a number of women who accompanied the disciples, ministered to Jesus in all kinds of practical ways. There's no indication from Luke that that's who's here. Rather, that these are simply being addressed as ordinary inhabitants of Jerusalem. He turns to them and addresses them in that way.

… daughters of Jerusalem, he says, children of Jerusalem, people of Jerusalem. And they have been stirred. Their sensibilities have been shocked by the way in which this itinerant preacher who never did anybody any wrong—that was what people would have said. He didn't do anything to anybody.

I don't know why they're doing this to him, why the authorities are treating him so mercilessly. And so it's no surprise that hearts that have been touched and moved in that way would express it in their mournful wails. Now, it would be no surprise if Jesus were to have acknowledged what they were doing and the sounds that were emanating from them if, through his fast-closing eyes, as a result of the scourging he's just received, if he were simply to have glanced at them and squeezed out of his eyes some kind of acknowledgement for sympathy in the midst of so much spite and hatred. But he does more than that.

He actually stops, and he turns to them, and he speaks to them. If Simon was bowled over by having been unceremoniously grabbed and thrust into action, he could have been no more amazed than these ladies were when, from the lips of Jesus, he says, Do not weep for me. Weep for yourselves and for your children. In other words, he says to them, Your sympathy is misdirected. You shouldn't be weeping for me. Oh, he's not saying that it is wrong for them to do so, but rather what he's saying is that there is something else for which they need to weep with a far greater concern. And you will remember from our studies that Jesus, in his entry to Jerusalem, had wept over Jerusalem because of the judgment that was going to fall upon him.

He'd said, How often would I have gathered you as I end gathers or chicks, but you refused to come to me? He said, If only you, Jerusalem, had known what made for peace, but your eyes are closed and your ears are stuffed to me. And so he says to these women, Don't weep for me, ladies. You're weeping for the wrong reason. Indeed, their tender compassion towards the sufferings of Christ could actually prevent them from seeing what awaits Jerusalem if the inhabitants, including themselves, persist in their unbelief. There's a striking statement back in 19. I'm just going to turn to it for myself.

You need necessarily turn to it. But when he speaks about the destruction of Jerusalem in Luke 19, 44, he says, They will dash you to the ground and the children within your walls, and they will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God's coming to you. Because you did not recognize the time of God's coming to you. These ladies recognized enough to extend their sympathy towards the buffeted and broken body of Jesus, but they did not recognize the time of God's coming to them. They recognized that this was a sorry sight, that this was wrong, that this was a travity of justice, that no person should ever be treated in that way. The very dignity of man demanded that this should not be taking place, and as a result of that, all of their emotions are stirred, and their sympathy is poured out in their mourning and their wailing. And so says Jesus, The reason that you should weep for yourselves and for your children is because the coming calamity, verse 29, is going to be so severe that it will change the way you view everything, including the way in which you view the blessing of children. In that day, people, instead of commiserating with childless women, will congratulate childless women.

Instead of saying, Oh, I'm very sorry, Mrs. Levi, that you have no kids, they'll say to one another, Isn't it fantastic, Mrs. Levi, that you have no children? Because although you are about to be destroyed in the moment, you do not have to look on your children and recognize that they are about to experience the same destiny. Indeed, he says, death will be preferable to the terror that awaits them. They will say to the mountains, Fall on us, and to the hills, cover us. They're not calling on the hills so that they can hide in them.

They're calling on the mountains so that they will kill them. And of course, as you know, within a relatively short period of time, these horrors were to become actual in the destruction of Jerusalem. So then, a strange thing happened on my way to the city, this picture of a cross that marks the followers of Jesus. And then, Don't weep for me, Jerusalem, the danger of misdirected sympathy.

And finally, a puzzling punchline. Verse 31, For if men do these things when the tree is green, what will happen when it is dry? What in the world does that mean? I honestly don't know.

I'm going to give you my best shot, but I don't know. I think I got some kind of indication of what it means when last week, along with many of you, I was picking up sticks. As a result of the winds that had come through the previous week and brought down many different bits and pieces in our yard, out we went and found that bending down is not just what it used to be. And as I made my little pile not as tidy as my neighbor two steps down, I did my best. But what I did not do, I did not break off any saplings. I didn't get carried away by the gathering of sticks, and when I had finally exhausted the supply that was lying there, dry and broken and ready to crumble, I decided why don't I just go and break off a few other branches from vibrant parts of the tree? It would have been very strange. But the dry stuff was ready. That's why it had fallen.

I think that's the way into this enigmatic statement. It is, just as it is unnatural for green wood to be burned in the fire, so it is contrary to nature that the innocent man Jesus should face suffering and death. I mean, it's contrary to nature. Why is this innocent man dying? Pilate knew he was innocent. The Jewish people knew he was innocent.

Many bystanders had a feeling that he was innocent. It is contrary to nature that the innocent should die, that the green tree, that the green shoot should be burned up and destroyed. But if that is going to be the case, if that is what happens, if that is how and when the guiltless suffer, what will it be then for the guilty nation, which, like dry wood, is ready for the impending judgment? Or, in an attempted paraphrase, if the innocent Jesus meets such a fate, what will be the fate of a guilty Jerusalem?

If this is what they're gonna do to an innocent man, what do you think is going to happen in the end when true judgment is poured out upon the guilty? Now, let me just say a word and wrap this up. The words of Jesus to these women—and through them, if you like, to the inhabitants of Jerusalem—need to be seen for what they are. They are essentially two things. They are a word of warning. They are a word of warning. Look out, you don't want to go there.

That's what he's saying. Don't get caught up in weeping for me. Let me tell you what you should be bemoaning and wailing about—namely, the impending judgment which will fall on the unbelief of men and women.

I'm giving you here, he says, a word of warning, and I'm giving you, at the same time, a word of invitation. You don't need to go to that place of judgment. I'm telling you this now in order that I might direct you in the proper way, in order that I might direct you to the place of repentance and faith. You see, now as then, Jesus is not calling us to sympathy.

He's calling us to faith. You may be one of these people. You certainly will know one of these individuals. A very religious person. They will have religious art in their home. They may have books on their coffee table that depict the sufferings and passions of Christ. They may routinely put themselves in a place where pictures or portraits or sculptings of a crucified Messiah are there for their focus and for their attention. And it is not unusual for them to be stirred to great paroxysms of emotion, to be concerned as they look upon this Christ and realize what a dreadful thing took place, reminding us that it is clearly possible to have an interest in Jesus, which is, if you like, nothing more than a condescending sympathy, but without ever believing in him, as my Lord and my Redeemer and my Savior and my Friend. Jesus doesn't need anybody's sympathy. Jesus is not on a cross this morning. Jesus is at the right hand of the Father on high. And next up on his calendar of events is his return in power and great glory to receive those who are ready to meet him and to banish for all eternity those who, like the stiff-necked residents in Jerusalem, when he called them as a hand would gather chicks, said, We don't want to come. We'd rather feel sorry for you and keep you at arm's length than face up to the fact that we need to feel sorry about our predicament and come to you in repentance and in faith. That's why, you see, religious art can only take us so far. That's why films that depict the passion of Christ, unless they are framed within the prophecies of the Old Testament and the clarifications of the epistles, will have people coming out of cinemas weeping and wailing and moaning and saying, Oh, that was so dreadful. That was so horrible.

I can't believe that even happened. Okay. Then what?

Well, I don't know what. Well, Jesus says, Don't weep for me, Cleveland. Weep for yourselves. If you remain in the position of unbelief. For on that day—and indeed, the very same terminology is used, interestingly, and with this I finish, in Revelation 6, when John looks forward to the seals being opened, and the great seal of judgment is opened, and then it says, Then the kings of the earth, the princes, the generals, the rich and the mighty, and every slave and every free man, hidden caves and among the rocks of the mountains. And they called on the mountains and the rocks, fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb. For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand? You see, on that day there will be no refuge from him. There is only refuge in him. Well, that's the best I can do with these verses.

A strange thing happened on the way to the city. A picture here of what it means to have a Christianity that is about the cross. Don't weep for me, Jerusalem, the danger of a condescending sympathy that makes us feel that because we somehow or another feel something in our tummies or in our hearts about what Jesus did upon the cross, that we must ipso facto be believers, when in point of fact we are no more believers. I can't convey this.

It's not my job to convey it. I can only tell you this is what the Bible says. It is only the Spirit of God that will convince you, my dear, stubborn, rebellious, unbelieving, dear attender of Parkside Church, it is only the Spirit of God that will convince you that you have an appointment with God that you must face. And it is only the Spirit of God that will convince you that Jesus died on the cross, not to induce your sympathy, but to take your place, and he calls you to repentance and to faith. I can only do my best to tell you that that's what the story is. That's this gospel.

That's what Luke is articulating. But I cannot convince you. You should cry to God and ask him to convince you, and then ask him to convert you. You're listening to Truth for Life. That is Alistair Begg with the conclusion of a message he's titled, Do Not Weep For Me.

Alistair returns to close today's program with prayer in just a minute. Have you ever wondered why we give chocolate at Easter or why we color eggs? Over the centuries, Easter has accumulated a long list of traditions, and it's interesting to explore how those traditions came to be.

But for many of our friends or acquaintances, those traditions are all they know about Easter. So I'm excited to tell you about a book I had the opportunity to write recently called 12 Things You Probably Didn't Know About Easter. And yes, it does explain the origin of popular Easter traditions, but more importantly, it explains the events that changed human history when Jesus was nailed to a Roman cross and died for our sins and then rose from the dead. The book is just 60 pages.

You can read it in about an hour. It gives a clear explanation of the mock trial held before a Jewish council for Jesus, his execution by Pilate, the many witnesses who testified to his resurrection. The goal of this book is for you to give it to friends, neighbors, family members as a way to open the door to a gospel conversation.

Maybe invite them to join you for your church's Good Friday or Resurrection Sunday service. Ask for your copy of the book 12 Things You Probably Didn't Know About Easter when you give a donation through the Truth for Life mobile app or online at slash donate. Now here's Alistair. Our God and our Father, the line it is drawn and the curse it is cast.

And the first will be last and the last will be first. I thank you for the defining nature of the work and words of Jesus, although by our many words we may run the risk of confusing the issue, the clarity of who Jesus is and what he said is unmistakable and ultimately undeniable. Save us from a misdirected, condescending sympathy. And bring us to faith. Save us from a smug, self-satisfied, crossless Christianity that makes liars of us and removes us from those who are crying out for help. And when we come to the puzzling parts of the Bible, help our puzzlement only to remind us afresh that the main things are the plain things, and the plain things are the main things, and to rest again in the wonder of your redeeming love. And may grace and mercy and peace from the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit rest upon and remain with each one who believes today and forevermore. Amen. Amen. Have you ever noticed how few details the gospel writers give us about the physical suffering Jesus experienced on the cross? Tomorrow we'll find out exactly what their focus really was. The Bible teaching of Alistair Begg is furnished by Truth for Life, where the Learning is for Living.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-03-21 08:40:02 / 2024-03-21 08:48:03 / 8

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