Holy Wednesday Devotion: April 5, 2023
To accompany the reading of St. Luke's passion narrative.
When it comes to his suffering, Jesus does not need or want our pity. He chose to suffer. It was necessary for him to go to the cross and die. Luke’s gospel, in particular, emphasizes this theme of “divine necessity.” In fact, after his resurrection, Jesus will appear to two of his downcast disciples on the road to Emmaus and gently rebuke them for not recognizing the necessity that “the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory.”
In a similar sense, we hear his gentle rebuke given to these women who have come out to weep and to mourn over this sight of a condemned man being led to his execution. He says to them, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. For behold, the days are coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren and the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!’ In essence, what Jesus is saying to these women is that your tears and your sorrow and your pity are misplaced. You should instead shed tears of repentance over your sin and unbelief of and over the judgement that will surely fall upon this nation unless it repents.
That’s the message of the cross—that the wages of sin is death. Going all the way back to the garden, God said, “On the day you eat of this tree you shall surely die.” The cross is the tree that reminds us of that no sin will go unpunished. A day will come when all will stand before the judgment seat of God and give an account. Jesus is warning us that, on that day, tears of sentimentality and pity will not save you from God’s wrath.
Instead, let us do as James instructs in his epistle. Let us be wretched and mourn and weep over the depravity of our own sinful hearts. Let our laughter be turned to mourning as we consider how greatly we have sinned against our Holy and Righteous God with every evil thought that was produced from our corrupted minds, with every untrue word that was spoken from our lying lips, and with every unrighteous deed that was done with our wicked hands.
Let us look upon Jesus as he carries his cross and weep that he carries it for us. Let us weep over what our sins have cost him. Let us repent. And then let us tears of sorrow become tears of joy. Let us rejoice that Jesus carried his cross to the end. Let us rejoice that he did what was necessary to satisfy our debt. Let us rejoice that he did what was necessary to cleanse our hearts, our lips, and our hands of every guilty stain with his holy precious blood.
Let us not give Jesus our pity, but let us look upon the cross and give him all of our worship, all of our praise, and all of our thanksgiving . Let us weep with joy that he carries it for us.