Luke 23:28, Weep For Your Children

But Jesus turning unto them said, Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves, and for your children.

//Jesus said these words as he carried his cross to his death. Roughly forty years after Jesus died, the Romans invaded Jerusalem by force and toppled the city. It was, the Romans felt, the only way to enforce peace in the Empire. The rebellious Jews had to be put in their place.

This war had a profound effect on our New Testament scriptures, most of which were written after the war ended, while Jerusalem and the Temple lay in ruins. Jesus often warned of what was on the horizon for Jerusalem, and after it happened, our gospel writers surely recalled Jesus’ prophetic words and emphasized them. It’s hard to imagine the cultural upheaval of losing your temple–the house of God–and being displaced from God’s holy land.

Because of this emphasis in the New Testament, it seems proper to read scripture in the light of this destruction. Think of Jesus standing on a hill overlooking Jerusalem, weeping for it. Think of him predicting that one day soon, not one stone of the temple would be left atop another. Think of him warning the Jews that they were headed for Gehenna–a valley on the south side of Jerusalem, often assumed to be a creative reference to hell, but which actually describes exactly what happen in history. During the war, bodies were thrown by the thousands over the walls of Jerusalem into the cursed valley of Hinnom (Gehenna). What happened to the Jews was hellish, indeed.

Today’s verse is one more not-so-subtle reference to the upcoming horror. When Jesus speaks of weeping for “you and your children,” he means it quite literally: that generation and the next. They would be massacred and tossed into Gehenna. The gospels come alive when we put them back in their historical context.

This topic will be covered in more detail in my upcoming book, The River of Life.

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