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In spite of his many attempts to release Jesus, Pilate finally surrendered Him to the will of the people, after which He was then led away to crucifixion for the sentence to be immediately carried out.  It was midmorning on Thursday of Passion week, with Mark noting the time to be the third hour (Mar 15:25), which we understand as during the third hour, which began around 9 o’clock.  For John, later recognizing the significance that the Passover lambs began to be sacrificed at noon in order to accommodate the large numbers who filled Jerusalem for the feast, noted that it was about the sixth hour (Joh 19:14).  Because of the imprecision of reckoning time by the quarter day according to the sun, both may be understood as correct.  Although forced to carry His own cross, because of the weakness of His flesh from the scourging and beatings He had endured He became physically unable to do so along the way, not being a large man to begin with; cf. Mat 21:5.  Therefore, another man, Simon of Cyrene, was pressed into service to carry Jesus’ cross after Him.  It is very possible that he is mentioned in all three of the synoptic gospels because he became a believer as a result of that traumatic experience so that he and his sons (Mar 15:21) became known in the early church as living witnesses of the truth.

Luke also notes that a large crowd of people were following Him to the place of execution who were most likely not His followers, but those whom the chief priests had just earlier persuaded to cry out for His blood; cf. Mat 27:39-44.  In their midst were some women who were mourning and lamenting Him, who were also likely not from among His supporters, but “professional” mourners connected with the temple service to publicly grieve the loss of any Jewish life.  What does Luke record that Jesus said to these women?  See Luk 23:28-31.  From an eternal, heavenly perspective, why ought the women to have not wept for Jesus?  Think: ought one to mourn the complete faithfulness in this world of a true servant of God?  Will not God surely honor and reward those who stand in the truth even unto death, just as He had done throughout history, and as in fact He would do for Jesus?  Cf. Mat 5:10-12.  What does this teach us about the true nature of a life well-lived that is not to be mourned?  Is it necessarily to live long and prosper and never be spoken against, or is it to remain faithful and true to God, even if that faithfulness causes us to suffer, or cuts short our life in this world?  Cf. 2Ti 1:8,12, 2:9-10.

Instead of weeping for Him, for whom did Jesus say they should weep instead?  See Luk 23:28.  Was it just for themselves that He said they should weep?  What does a mother weeping for her children remind us about one of the strongest bonds of love there is, and hence the tremendous grief that the women of Jerusalem would experience in the judgment that would in time come upon the city?  Cf. 2Ki 8:12, Isa 13:15-16,18, Hos 13:16.  How does this help us to better understand the meaning of His words in Luke 23:29?  How does Jesus describe how terrible the agony of that coming judgment and its accompanying grief would be?  See Luk 23:30; cf. Isa 2:19, Hos 10:8, Rev 6:16, 9:6.  How long would it be before those mothers would be bereft of their children in that coming judgment?  In that time, is it not likely that such judgment would fall even on their children’s children?  Do we understand the consequences of our sin not just to ourselves and to our children, but even to future generations?  As those who dearly love our own children, have we considered the real possibility that judgment could already have been decreed from heaven upon our own nation for its sins, that could just as easily bereave us of them?  If such were the case, how might not having children actually be a hidden blessing from the Lord for those who earnestly desire them but for some reason cannot?  Cf. Mat 24:19.

Consider the terrible anguish Mary must have felt to see her son hanging upon the cross, suffering such torment unto death; John 19:25-26; cf. Luk 2:34-35.  And yet, her sorrow was but for a time, and would soon be turned to joy after the resurrection; Act 1:14.  As opposed to the suffering for righteousness’ sake that Jesus endured, along with its accompanying grief to His mother and followers which was but for a moment and that would be rewarded (cf. Joh 16:21-22), how was the suffering of the judgment that would soon overtake Jerusalem very different, as well as the accompanying grief that would consume the people, and especially those mothers?  What does this remind us about two different ways one can suffer in this world, and their very different ends?  As opposed to the ignominy of suffering because of one’s sins, what is the end of suffering for righteousness?  Cf. Luk 1:48, Jam 1:2-5, 1Pe 4:13-14.  Therefore, while it is unrealistic in light of the truths of Scripture (cf. Joh 16:33, 1Ti 3:12) to hope for our children to avoid all suffering, what should our hope and prayer be for them in regard to their sufferings?  Cf. 1Pe 2:20 and think: how much greater must the grief of mothers be whose children suffer the consequences of sin, perhaps eternally, than those who suffer for righteousness?  And if our children should suffer for their sins, what should our hope be for them?  See Lam 3:39-42, Luk 18:13.

Who, or what, does Jesus refer to as the green (lit., moist, or wet) tree in Luk 23:31?  In what way could the time in which Jesus ministered upon the earth be described as a moist, green tree, in contrast to the time of drought that would soon leave the nation dry and barren?  See Luk 4:18-19 and Luk 6:6,8, Joh 5:3 where the word translated here as dry is also translated as withered.  In what way was Jesus Himself, and those who follow after Him in righteousness, a green tree, as opposed to the wicked who are likened to dry chaff or a bush in the desert?  Cf. Psa 1:1-4, Jer 17:5-8.  If people are so wicked as to do such things to a tree planted by streams of water, how much more must the fiery judgment consume those who are dry?  In this regard, in what way was the nation of Israel a green tree flowing with the life-giving sap of God’s word that had been entrusted to it, by which she might have been very fruitful, but had now been cut down?  See Mat 3:10, 21:19, Luk 13:6-9.  When against nature the green trees of God’s saints who are bearing much fruit are often cut down by the evils in the world, should we imagine that it will fare better for those who like Israel come to bear no fruit and are cut down and dried for firewood?  See Joh 15:6.

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