Today’s Lectio Divina: Luke 23: 26-31 (MsgB)
As they led Him (Jesus) off, they made Simon, a man from Cyrene who happened to be coming in from the countryside, carry the cross behind Jesus. A huge crowd of people followed, along with women weeping and carrying on. At one point Jesus turned to the women and said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, don’t cry for Me. Cry for yourselves and for your children. The time is coming when they’ll say, ‘Lucky the women who never conceived! Lucky the wombs that never gave birth! Lucky the breasts that never gave milk!’ Then they’ll start calling to the mountains, ‘Fall down on us!’ calling to the hills, ‘Cover us up!’ If people do these things to a live, green tree, can you imagine what they’ll do with deadwood?”
As gruesome and violent the crucifixion of Jesus might seem to us, in all truth, the era of worldwide war and unjust violence toward God’s people is just beginning in 33 AD in the streets of Jerusalem.
As we’ve been discussing throughout our entire blog through Luke’s gospel, the coming of Jesus (His birth, life, death, and resurrection) is the major turning point in all of world history. There’s a reason our entire calendar system is set to revolve around Jesus’ birth. The advent of Christ is God’s masterful stroke of genius. An offensive strike against darkness, sending His Son to begin a powerful global strike of heaven’s power against Satan and his long-established work of evil on this planet.
In truth, Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection on planet earth have stirred up quite a hornet’s nest in hell. And the end result will not always be pretty for all of us who live here on earth now that God has taken this powerful act of war against the devil.
Now don’t get me wrong. Theologically speaking, Jesus’ resurrection has also set us all free in ways we’d never know outside of Christ’s work on the cross. Hallelujah! Our Rescuing King has accomplished what no one ever expected could happen when Jesus came to earth on His first visit! But this same coming of Christ has also stepped up the war between evil and good. A war that once was visible only in the spiritual realm has now come into the light and is being waged on every street corner of the planet over the last 2,000 years. And as anyone who understands warfare knows, innocent people are often wounded and can even die during times of war. Bad things certainly can happen to lots of good people when war is being waged all around us.
It’s this open warfare between good and evil that Jesus refers to here when He warns those in the crowd who are mourning over His suffering to be aware that the troubles in this world are just beginning. History shows us that this is particularly true for the Hebrew people, God’s chosen ones, who have now lived under nearly 2,000 years of oppressive warfare against their very existence.
While scholars believe that Jesus was prophetically speaking to these women about the coming destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD, the truth of the matter is that much of the last 2,000 years has not been an easy time for anyone who chooses God over the rest of the world. And as the New Testament warns all of us, there will be trouble in this world between the time of Jesus’ first visit to earth and His second.
These ‘last days’ we all live in are difficult times. For two millennia now, church history shows us that living as a true follower of Christ will not always bring us sweet flowers, an easy life, or soft pillows to lay our heads on. As a matter of fact, the last 200 years of Christian life in America is more of an anomaly than most of us might care to recognize. The rich religious freedoms and lack of persecution we Americans have been blessed with are indeed less common in world history than we might realize.
In a large portion of the world today, living for Christ is not an easy trek. And as the world continues to grow darker before the dawn, I’d expect fully for the religious freedoms we so easily ignore here in America to not be here as long as we might imagine.
In truth, Jesus is telling us, under the extreme weight of His cross, to hold tightly to God in the days ahead. This world with devils filled (as Luther wrote in his famous hymn, ‘A Mighty Fortress is Our God’) has little love for those who profess Christ as our only allegiance.
Brace yourself, friends. This ride might just get a bit rougher before we land.
My prayer: Jesus, Your words here are not comforting to our flesh. The idea of life being difficult, bloody and deadly is not something we talk about a lot, but apparently, You understood it well that life on earth, following God, might very well mean living under difficult times of distress. Empower us, Lord, to hold on, even when evil comes at us full force. For Your name’s sake. Amen.
My questions to ponder: How have I become complacent and non-appreciative of living in America, where for over 200+ years, we’ve experienced religious freedoms unlike most others in world history? Have I allowed these religious freedoms to lull me to sleep, making me completely unprepared if and when those same religious freedoms might be suddenly taken away?
So, what are you experiencing today as we are journeying through this Lenten Adventure?
Over a 48-day period (from Ash Wednesday through the Monday after Easter), you and I will be taking a deeper look at the stories surrounding the life and ministry of Jesus (especially the last week known as Holy Week) as recorded in the Gospel of Luke. In order to keep all the blog sessions organized, we suggest you bookmark our Our Lenten Journey home page for ease of use.
If you like what you’re reading, might we suggest you share this page with others!