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Daughters of Jerusalem

Rebecca Hanley, Midweek Teacher

In the New Testament, Jesus speaks to a group of women whom He calls "daughters of Jerusalem" on one occasion. These women are noted to be citizens of Jerusalem, a center of religion that fervently rejected Jesus of Nazareth. We aren't told exactly why they are following Jesus in a situation when many of his own have turned away. Perhaps they were following as unofficial disciples? Or maybe, and probably most likely, they were simply "good" religious folks who took pity on Jesus and lamented the extreme cruelty being shown to an innocent man. Some may say the women he was speaking to were young, unmarried women or even professional mourners. The women followed Him, weeping and mourning.  Jesus could have easily gotten away with ignoring the women crying out to him as he walked along the dusty road, beaten and nearly naked, making the painful journey to an awful death.

Picture this... Jesus is carrying his cross to Calvary, walking in pure exhaustion through filthy and crowded streets in the midst of people spitting,  throwing rocks, yelling horrible and cruel names at him. In true Jesus fashion, with humility, mercy, compassion and love amid all of the hatred,  he continues to reach out to others and encourage them along the way.  Even more remarkable than the fact that he brought his eyes up to meet theirs, or that he spoke to them in the midst of his suffering, is what he chose to say.  Jesus knew what lay ahead for him and for them.  Jesus spoke like this many times, where he makes you stop and reflect on his words and on his all-knowing and all-loving way.

A large number of people followed him, including women who mourned and wailed for him. Jesus turned and said to them, "Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep for yourselves and for your children. For the time will come when you will say, 'Blessed are the childless women, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!'
Then '"they will say to the mountains, "Fall on us!" and to the hills, "Cover us!"'
For if people do these things when the tree is green, what will happen when it is dry?"
Luke 23:27-31

As I meditate on this scripture,  I wonder if he is beginning to question if they are even getting the urgency of his message? See, at the moment, no one knows that Jesus will rise from the dead, some may not even take him seriously at this time. Why does it take us so long to stop or to look up when he tells us to stop and look up?

Jesus knew there would  be times that would bring joy, peace and celebration of life, but he also knew that we are human and, in our human nature, we sin.  Jesus knew that those very sins would create a separation between us and God and he knew the freedom that was coming, that he was bringing. He also knew there would be war and bloodshed to come with the Jewish-Roman wars.

I have experienced a lot of loss this past year; family and friends who lost their fight with cancer or other illnesses. I have mourned so much this last year that I felt like a professional mourner. I was allowing myself to get so mad and angry at all the loss that I found it hard at times to see any good in anything.  I just wanted to sit in a deep pool of pity for myself. Jesus has spoken to me several times throughout this year and said, "enough...it's time to get up." I totally could have blown him off and stayed there.  It took a lot for me to stop and look up, to stop my way of thinking and look up at him. Letting go of things that would, if I continued, allow my heart to draw cold and hard. It was not a healthy place if I continued. He wanted (and I needed) me to allow him into that space, instead of pain, instead of grief and anger.

Are there things now that the Lord is asking you to look up from? Are there things he has said to stop doing and look up?

Jesus speaks with the example of green trees because he is being persecuted during a time when the olive trees in the orchards and the vines in the vineyards were green. They were green because the Jewish farmers were watering them. Judea is primarily desert, so the only way trees stay green is if they are cultivated or they happen to grow around a spring or river. At the time Jesus said this, there were lots of green trees. But once war descended upon Judea, the farmers were pushed out or slaughtered along with the city people. So just as Jesus predicted, the trees became dry during the Jewish-Roman wars. Women lost their life to war, before they could even have children. So much bloodshed and devastation.  Pray for yourselves and your children, Jesus knew such a time was coming, call to the hills to fall on us and cover us, hide us from our wickedness and death, in this dry place, remind us of the green tree and what to do when we are in a dry place.

Have you heard the saying, "Grass is always greener on the other side"?  I think Jesus is saying "Grass is always greener where you water it."   We usually are attracted to what we don't have, to what we are missing in some way in our life. We always see it would be better if we just had _________ (fill in the blank).  Jesus is saying that there are seasons in our life Jesus that we need to be prepared for. The "dry season" and the desert season, when you think you aren't going to make it, and you may even blame God (or anyone you can) for where you are at.  

God is warning us to remember this life is about him, it's about what he has done for us. That we need to drop the religious act and start worrying about the things he has called us to. That in his suffering, carrying his cross to then be nailed to it and hung on it, so we may be set free from all sins, so we can have a personal relationship with him and the father, that we have been forgiven when we come to him and ask. This is a time in which Jesus speaks with an urgency to look up and stop what you are doing and weep not for  him, but  for yourselves and your children, he is calling us to recognize our need for him and that we too are running out of time. Jesus sees you, Jesus sees me, he sees the pain, the loneliness, he sees those of you who feel unseen. He sees our joys, our good days and bad. Even in his suffering he saw the "daughters of Jerusalem" and called out to them, so they too can be set free.

Are you in a season that you may feel barren or feel lifeless or feel alone or unseen? Take a moment, ask the Lord how to help you move forward, even in this dry place, that he would fill you again with the hope of the green tree, and that you would feel life being breathed back into your bones. Then pray with me.  Remember God gave his only son for you and me, Jesus came for you and me, so that we can go directly to the Father for whatever we may need and have eternal life. This is GOOD NEWS!        

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
 John 3:16

PRAYER:
Lord, I want to recognize how good and faithful you are, you were in the midst of suffering, saw these women and called them to freedom, you never give up on us, on me. Thank you for continuing to pour out your grace and mercy in my life. I don't want to miss what you are asking of me in this season, God if you are saying to stop and look up give me ears to hear you, if you are just saying to look up and be still help me hear you and be faithful to the things you are calling me to. My desire to be ready for any season I am in. Help me in my weakness to be strong for the things you have for me, in order to serve you faithfully your church and your people. Help me see the things you see, help me see the unseen, the hurt and broken. Help me to continue to encourage those that need to be encouraged for you are faithful and a good God.

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