The Way of the Cross: Tears (Luke 23: 27-31)

As we prepare for Easter, past and present Pepperdiners contribute reflections on Jesus’ journey to the cross. Today’s is from Travis Weber, a Seaver alumnus and former Coordinator of the Spiritual Life Advisors program.

Luke 23:27-31 Jesus Meets the Women of Jerusalem

From Stations of the Cross in Lodwar Cathederal, Kenya

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

Harmony, my wife, and I live in a small remote village in the rainforest of Guyana. We have just completed our first year of service in the Peace Corps.

Despite almost one cell phone per adult in the community, poverty is readily evident in almost every corner of our village. The basics, which most of us take for granted, are scarce. Work, and therefore an income, no matter how small, is very limited. Food and clothing are limited. Access to an education beyond primary school is limited. Access to basic health care is limited.

When I look around our community, I see kind faces that have been wrinkled and hardened by poverty. Such injustice and marginalization are ready objects for weeping and mourning. The human situation tugs at our hearts and provides plenty of reasons to weep and mourn.

Walking with Jesus is hard work. Along the route, we encounter reason after reason after reason to weep.

A kiss of betrayal.
Condemnation by the Sanhedrin.
Denial by a friend.
False accusations.
A sentence to death.
Senseless brutality.
The Cross.

We’ve been walking alongside Jesus, witness to injustice, abuse, marginalization, and senseless violence. And then, Jesus turns to face us. “Do not weep for me.”

Jesus’ Passion brings out genuine grief, deep confusion, and maybe even anger.

“Do not weep for me; weep instead for yourselves and for your children . . . .”

Jesus turns to face us directly from the midst of his own suffering and pain. He turns our expectations upside down. Don’t weep for Jesus. Don’t simply weep for the injustices, abuse, and marginalization that are so prevalent around us.

I think Jesus is holding up a mirror. “Weep instead for yourselves.” Look through the mirror. Look within. See, in the mirror, our own prejudices and stereotypes. Consider our own self-serving ways and apathy.

Instead of crying out against discrimination “out there,” I think Jesus is asking us to consider, first and foremost, how our own attitudes and actions have contributed to discrimination. Before we look out and weep for the wrongs that we see around us, we ought to look in the mirror and weep for our own fallenness and our own contributions to injustices and marginalization.

When I look into the mirror, I see quickness to judgment in my reflection. I see a dangerous, prideful arrogance – that as a well-educated person, born in the First World, I might have the answers about how our community can escape their poverty trap. Mourning the person I see in my reflection actually brings me closer to following Jesus on his journey to the Cross.

“Do not weep for me; weep instead for yourselves and for your children . . . .”

What does the mirror reflect for you?

Travis Weber and his wife Harmony just completed their first year serving with Peace Corps in Guyana. They recently collected books from the Pepperdine community to establish a library for the children in their community. Click here to keep up with their adventure in ministry and service via their blog.

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