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Via Dolorosa

Via Dolorosa

Words of Faith 2-13-19

Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2019

Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL

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Luke 23

[27] A large number of people followed him, including women who mourned and wailed for him. [28] Jesus turned and said to them, "Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep for yourselves and for your children. [29] For the time will come when you will say, 'Blessed are the barren women, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!' [30] Then " 'they will say to the mountains, "Fall on us!" and to the hills, "Cover us!" ' [31] For if men do these things when the tree is green, what will happen when it is dry?"


        The road to the cross is not a pleasant journey to consider even after 2000 years.  They call it the Via Dolorosa or "the way of suffering."  Jerusalem would have been packed with pilgrims coming in for the Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread.  In the midst of this, a political execution was going on.

        Crowds generally went to view an execution. The pious women of Jerusalem often went to mourn the executed, providing a narcotic drink to dull the victim's pain as an act of mercy.  After a condemned person died, it was not legal to mourn them publicly. Nationalistic Jews also would have sympathized with fellow Jews executed by the Romans for being revolutionaries.  

        The scene along the narrow roads would have been noisy and confusing.  Women usually expressed mourning more dramatically than men with wailing and a high pitched warbling. The sounds of such grieving in the Middle East are vivid and unmistakable.

       On the way to the cross, Jesus had a few more words to share. They must have been significant. He warned the people of their coming persecution.  There was a judgment coming. There were times of tribulation ahead for the nation.  The admonition to "mourn for yourselves" was a prophetic cry of judgment much like the words of Isaiah (32:9-14). 

       Jewish women had always considered barrenness a misfortune and children a blessing. Jesus was clear that in the day of Jerusalem's destruction, however, women would have the horror of seeing their children suffer and would wish they could have been spared that agony. Jesus' statement was the sort of lament mothers would offer when their children died. 

        The Jewish historian Josephus reports that the siege of Jerusalem by the Roman army in 66-70 AD created a famine so severe that some mothers were reduced to eating their children. It is hard to imagine, but the actual horror of what was to come was not really describable.

        Jesus quoted from Hosea: Then "they will say to the mountains, 'Fall on us!' and to the hills, 'Cover us!'"  A person standing out in the open in Jerusalem, or in the Judean hills, would probably not think of mountains as a means of destruction as much as a means of protection. These words from Hosea 10:8 are probably a plea for protection rather than for quick death.

        Jesus warned of a time when things would be even worse than the events of that day. "For if men do these things when the tree is green, what will happen when it is dry?"  Fire spreads much more rapidly through a dry forest than through a wet one.  Jesus' words warned of a situation in the future even worse than the events surrounding his crucifixion.  Jesus' message was being rejected when He was physically present. How much more it would be rejected in the coming years? Terrible destruction was coming.  

        So what is our devotional thought from this moment on the Via Dolorosa?  It is essential that we know the path to the cross was not a simple journey.  It was difficult and painful.  We often slip from Palm Sunday to Easter in our Christian calendar almost as if nothing really happened in between.  Of all days in Jerusalem, this one was very significant.

        It is also important to realize that there is a judgment that comes as a result of rejecting Jesus.  There was a historical rejection of Jesus in Jerusalem two thousand years ago, but there is also a personal rejection of Jesus that occurs almost every day in towns, cities, and nations, but most of all, in individual hearts.  It is a sobering thought to realize that this rejection is not without consequence.  The point is not a negation of grace.  It is merely the reality that grace rejected points to a destiny of destruction.

        Life is moving fast.  Have you received the Messiah of God?


         O God, may I not be found without Jesus.  May I not be found to have rejected Him at the critical moment.  Thank You for Your grace, mercy, and love.  In Jesus' name.