A reflection on Jesus’ words to the women of Jerusalem.
A mess of tears streaked down my face the first time I watched The Passion. My stomach churned at the horror of each torturous scene. The unimaginable pain inflicted on Jesus weighed on my body and crushed me in my seat.
As I watched the story of the Passion unfold from the safety of my living room, I was horrified that “those people” could do “that” to an innocent man. And I was filled with sorrow that my sins contributed to the gruesome death of my God.
I watched the crucifixion from the outside. And it was only a story of drama, not of saving grace.
Until Jesus reeled me in.
Let us pray.
My Jesus, I stood there crying among the weeping daughters of Jerusalem. I watched You carry the heavy cross down the road. I was a bystander at my own moment of salvation.
And then You stopped. You looked me in the eye and said, “weep not for me, but for yourselves and your children.” Luke 23:28
With these words, I left my spot on the side of the road and I stepped into Your place under the cross.
With these words, my Jesus, You reminded me of my part in the Passion. I should be the one carrying the cross. I should be the one walking this lonely road. It was my sins that caused all this pain and suffering. This is the punishment I deserve.
Your Passion immediately became very personal.
It’s not only Your back being scourged. By every right it’s my back. It’s not only Your body being bruised and broken, carrying the heavy cross, falling in the street. It’s my body being battered for the offenses I caused. It’s not just Your hands and feet being impaled by nails, staking You to the cross. It’s my hands and feet that are nailed to the guilt of my sins.
My hands and feet are nailed to the guilt of my sins. Tweet this.
That punishment is mine, Jesus.
I am the guilty one. I am the one sentenced to suffer and die as atonement for my sins. Your suffering is not your own. You took my place in all my sinfulness in a very literal way. (CCC 603)
This is the attitude I want to hold on to this Lent.
Not merely horror at the graphic death of the innocent God-Man. But also knowledge that all the torments and punishment of the Passion belong to me. I want to weep in atonement for my sins which merit such a terrible price to be paid.
As I continue in the Gospel of Luke, a few paragraphs after you speak to the weeping women the good thief shows up, embodying this attitude. He says to his comrade, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds.” Luke 23:40-41
This line calls me to fear God. To submit to the just consequences for my sins.
Having suffered his punishment, the thief cries out, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Luke 23:42
If You, my Jesus, had only given the command to weep for myself, I would do it, and surely despair.
But the Gospel proceeds to the next step: not just horror and sorrow, but repentance. Like the good thief, I must, when meditating upon Your Passion, turn to You and cry out for Your forgiveness!
In response, You say to me, “Today you will be with me in Paradise.” Luke 23.43
It is then, at the moment on Good Friday, after making reparation for my sins during the season of Your Passion (Lent) – then, at the moment of Your death, that You free me from my sin.
The centurion cries out and proclaims Your innocence. At this moment of Your death, when You pass from earthly life, I inherit your innocence.
The culmination of all this suffering turns the tables.
Your suffering brought about this amazing transformation. “He became sin who knew no sin,” – You literally took my sinful place by Your suffering and death, “so that in him we might become the righteousness of God,” 2 Cor 5:21 – and bestowed on me Your innocence.
Throughout Lent, I live in anticipation of this moment.
After immersing myself in forty days of weeping for my sins, I relive the moment when You finally set me free from them. And not only do You set me free, You raise me to a new life through Your Resurrection on the third day. (CCC 654)
And when we come to Easter, I will no longer be sorrowful. The time for sorrow will pass, and the time for rejoicing will be here.
Once you raise me to new life I will no longer live for myself. The old me – the one whose sins You died for on the cross truly died with You.
The old me – the one whose sins You died for on the cross truly died with You. Tweet this.
After the Resurrection, I will “live for [You] who for [my] sake died and was raised.” 2 Cor 5:15 My redemption is complete; “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.” Gal 2:20
Help me, my Jesus, in anticipation of this new life, to prepare for my liberation with humility. Give me the grace to face my sins and weep for myself. Let me acknowledge Your suffering not only as an injustice, but let me embrace it as my due punishment, knowing that it is truly I who should be in Your place.
Prepare me for the moment of Your death on Good Friday when the great transformation takes place – when by Your death You take on my sinful nature, and give me Your Holy Innocence.
Then, finally, when the time for sadness is over, rise exultant in my heart on the day of Resurrection, so You truly live in me, that I may live in Your love and grace.
I won’t be a bystander at my own salvation. I won’t watch the drama unfold from the outside.
Draw me in, Jesus. Remind me of the part I played by my sinfulness.
I may weep during Your Way of the Cross.
But I weep for my sinful self until Your Resurrection sets me free.
I may weep during Your Way of the Cross, but I weep for my sinful self until Your Resurrection sets me free. Tweet this.
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