Daily Devotional for 04.06.2020

Daily Devotional for 04.06.2020 RESURGAM 2020 - Journeying through the 14 Stations of the Cross Ninth Station: Jesus Meets the Women of Jerusalem

A large crowd of people followed Jesus, including many women who mourned and lamented him. Jesus turned to them and said, "Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep instead for yourselves and for your children, for indeed, the days are coming when people will say, 'Blessed are the barren, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed.' At that time, people will say to the mountains, 'Fall upon us!' and to the hills, 'Cover us!' for if these things are done when the wood is green what will happen when it is dry?" (Luke 23: 27-31) As Jesus continued his tortured march towards Golgotha, each step became more difficult than the one before, each painful breath more arduous than its predecessor. The hill and the cross was His goal, yet suddenly he became aware of the women following Him and their anguish. How like Jesus to focus on others in His suffering.  There is a wonderful story told about Catherine Booth, one of the co-founders of the Salvation Army. At the end of her life, she contracted breast cancer and suffered greatly for two years as a result. In the last months of her life, Catherine was confined to bed, suffering immeasurable pain, with dreadful, open wounds on her chest. Her Doctor, a young man who visited daily pleaded with her to take morphine to dull the pain. Catherine refused, telling him, "I will not, I must be in full control of my senses so I can preach the Gospel even unto my dying breath". She knew that the young man had no experience of God and was praying for him continually. On one occasion, suffering searing pain, she pulled him close and looking directly into his eyes asked,  “Do you know Him, do you know my Savior, will you know him?”  At her last, her thought was still for others and she asked the Dr if he knew of some poor beggars that were in desperate need. He did, so she gave him money to distribute and requested he take each one a copy of a Christian paper, “that they might come to know Jesus” . Her thought to her last breath was a reflection of Jesus’ own compassion for others. Jesus, turned to these women, many who had been the source of support for the years of His ministry and said to them,  “do not weep for me, weep for yourselves for the trouble that is coming” . Jesus knew that His false accusation, His unlawful torture, and execution was the beginning of Israel’s sorrows. The High Priest’s rejection of the Messiah, their confession that  “they had no King but Caesar” was the spark, the flame, that would ignite a forest fire that would engulf the nation. it was only a matter of time before having “sowed the wind, they would reap the whirlwind”. Hos 8:7 So many things start in our lives as sparks, we do not consider just how dangerous they can be. In California, each summer, when the grass dries out and the brush becomes brittle through the loss of moisture, a simple spark of lightning can create devastation over thousands of hectares. When conditions are better, the same spark can have little effect, so it is all to do with the conditions. There are times in our lives when a word, a question, a criticism we express, can come to nothing. But we need to be careful, just because we “get away” with it once or twice does not mean that damage is not occurring. The damage is mostly in us, for as we continue, our conscience becomes seared and it becomes easier and easier to be negative and destructive in our speech. The same applies to a lie, one lie can and almost always does lead to another until it becomes a part of how we speak, we lie without remorse and just as quickly relieve ourselves of responsibility justifying our actions. But we never know “when the conditions around are dangerous” when the grass around us is dry and the brush is brittle. This can particularly affect us in our relationships. If we do not put the lid on negative and destructive speech in a time when we are doing well, in a time of difficulty we will not be able to control our tongues and we will ignite some devastating fire.   The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.  James 3:6  What we say matters! The High Priests had set a fire, they were not aware of how dangerous the conditions were, they never stopped to examine themselves and their actions against God’s Word, they did not stop to listen and learn from Jesus. Now that fire was about to get out of control and the first place that it would visit would be their most Holy Place. The curtain before the Holy of Holies would be split in two, from top to bottom, it would be destroyed in tandem with Jesus’ expiration on the cross.  Josephus, the Jewish historian tells us that in AD 70 Rome sieged and then completely destroyed the city of Jerusalem. Emperor Nero, the confessed,  “King of the Jews”  had passed sentence on a rebellious nation. The city was burned with fire and hundreds of thousands in the nation perished. This is obviously what Jesus was referring to when He spoke to the women following Him, a sobering prophecy from the lips of the dying Savior. Jesus was in agony of Spirit as He uttered the words, His previous statement hung in the air above this distressing,  “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you murder the prophets and stone the messengers that are sent to you! How often have I longed to gather your children round me like a bird gathering her brood together under her wings, but you would never have it”. Luke 13:34-35  Words have consequences, sin has consequences, often we are unaware just how devastating their effect can be. He reached out to the women in their pain, He soothed their wounds, with His eyes he wiped away their tears. He loved them, even as He was dying. His last thought was for others, particularly those who loved Him the most. Had it been possible He would have reached out his hands to them, but those hands were awash with blood and the strength to raise them was gone. Jesus turned again to the gate and dragged His broken frame the last few steps to Calvary.