Following him was a large crowd of people, including women who were grieving and mourning for him. (Luke 23:26-27)From these verses, we find that Jesus was not simply surrounded by people who wanted him to heal them or save them. We find there were many dedicated followers who were devoted to Jesus. Such weeping illustrates devotion. It illustrates love.
They were brokenhearted to find that Jesus - who had such compassion for them, and had introduced them to love of God - was being persecuted.
We must note also that many of the male followers of Jesus were not among the crowd. They, like Peter, feared persecution. Why? Because the chief priest and henchmen of the Jewish temple were also after those key followers of Jesus who might want to spread his teachings.
They weren't just trying to get rid of Jesus. They were trying to squelch his teachings of love for God.
This is why Peter was asked if he was a follower of Jesus - and why he denied that he was. If he had admitted he was a follower, he would have been arrested.
And this wasn't what Jesus wanted. Jesus warned his students to protect themselves and not get arrested, so they could continue to pass on Jesus' teachings after his persecution.
"Therefore, go and make followers of all peoples – baptizing them in the Name of the Creator, and of the Representative and of the Holy Spirit. Teach them to follow the things I have instructed you – and know that I am with you always – until the end of your lifetime.” (Matt. 28:19-20)This, of course, contradicts the current sectarian teaching that all we have to do is accept that Jesus died for our sins. If this was what Jesus wanted them to teach, he would have said that. But rather, he wanted them to pass the teachings he gave to his students to others. Namely, to come to know, love and serve the Supreme Being:
“ ‘Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment." (Matt. 22:37-38)This illustrates Jesus' ultimate purpose was to teach us to love and serve God - not that we should revel in Jesus' suffering. Not that we should be focused on Jesus' body being murdered.
Such a mood - of reveling for ourselves that Jesus suffered - is precisely the opposite mood of those women who were following Jesus. They were feeling saddened by his suffering. They were weeping because he was suffering.
That's how a real follower of Jesus should feel when reflecting upon Jesus' body being beaten and hung to death. One should feel saddened to the point of weeping for Jesus' having suffered like that. Not happy that Jesus saved me by his suffering.
What would you think about someone who is happy that someone else suffered for them, and were beaten and hung to death? Would you think, 'oh, that person really cares about the person who suffered.' No. You would probably think, 'what a selfish person - to be only thinking about themselves when someone suffered on their behalf.'
Back to Jesus' statement. Why did he say:
"For just consider, the time will come when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren and the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed.’ Then they will start saying to the mountains, ‘Fall on us,’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us.” Because if they do this when the trees are green, what will happen when they are dry?”Sectarian preachers will typically interpret this to be about some kind of "end of the world" scenario. Like Jesus was warning them about the end of the world.
That is simply ridiculous. Why? Because the end of the world did not come for these women. He said, "the time will come when they say..." That means something was going to happen during their lifetimes. Jesus was warning them about a time that will come in their near future. Not more than 2,000 years later.
Rather, Jesus is speaking to them about the war and bloodshed to come with the Jewish-Roman wars. This began in the year 65 and continued until about the year 115. During this time, the Romans burnt down Jerusalem and most of the other Jewish towns. They slaughtered hundreds of thousands - if not millions - of the Jewish people. This included women and children. It was a mass extinction of the Jewish people that rivaled the holocaust of World War II. Plus it lasted for more than 50 years. It was one hell of a long war.
Jesus was warning them about what was to come for them.
Consider the situation carefully. The Jewish people were farmers and traders. Once war broke out between the Romans and the Jewish people, there was starvation everywhere. People were left homeless after towns and villages were burnt to the ground. This region is primarily desert. Starvation and drought were rampant. Mothers and their babies were in a bad way.
Just consider how awful trying to raise a baby in the middle of a war zone would be. That is if the baby even survived.
So why did Jesus ask, "Because if they do this when the trees are green, what will happen when they are dry?"
Jesus is reflecting on the fact that 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.
Remember that Judea is primarily desert. 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.
Thus we find that even though Jesus is being beaten and tortured, and taken to be gruesomely murdered, he is caring about these women, and people in general. He is not saying, "woe is me" here. He is not crying or calling out for help. He is looking over at these people who are his followers, and he is warning them about their future.
What do we call this? We call it love. Jesus was loving his followers. He was caring for them. Even at his time of pain and crisis, he was caring about these other people.
We must see this for what it is. As God's representative, Jesus is loving the Supreme Being. He has a personal loving relationship with God. And because we are all God's children, Jesus is also loving others. He is truly caring about others.
Jesus was practicing what he preached:
“’Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind;’ and ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Luke 10:27)Each of us, from deep within, needs to re-establish our loving relationship with the Supreme Being. This is what each of us is constantly pining for as we search for love and friendship in the world.
It is love of God that we seek as we strive to achieve popularity and the approval of others.
It is love of God that we seek as we search for that perfect soulmate.
It is love of God that we seek as we endeavor with family life.
It is love of God that we seek as we get a dog or cat or other pet to care for.
It is love of God that we seek as we feel lonely in this world.
Yes, we are each searching for our lost relationship with the Supreme Being. This is the pure loving relationship that we hold deep within our hearts as our ideal relationship. This is why we are not satisfied with the relationships of this world. This is why we feel lonely even when surrounded by other people.
This is what Jesus was trying to teach us. To love and serve God is the highest achievement. Once achieved, we will also be loving and caring for others - as God's children. This is what Jesus wants to give us. This is what will ultimately save us.
All the Biblical verses above were quoted from The Gospels of Jesus.