Flashback Episode — A Last Minute Prediction: Luke 23:26-31

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On the morning He was crucified, after all the trials and sentencing, Jesus is led away to Calvary carrying His cross. On this trip to the hill where He would die, the gospel of Luke records an interesting prediction Jesus makes to some of those who were following the procession out of the city. While most people focus in on the first verse of our passage, the verses that follow are probably more significant for us living today.

Our passage is found in the gospel of Luke, chapter 23, and we will be reading from the New Century Version of the Bible. Starting in verse 26, Luke tells us that:

26 As they led Jesus away, Simon, a man from Cyrene, was coming in from the fields. They forced him to carry Jesus’ cross and to walk behind him.

Pausing briefly, this part of our passage would be very tempting to focus in on. After all, Simon was probably one of the only people who got to experience the shame of carrying a cross without the death that followed. Simon is someone who was both at the worst place at the worst time, or perhaps the best place at the worst time. If it wasn’t for his presence here, he would be an unknown person in the Biblical record.

However, what comes next in Luke’s gospel is fascinating. Continuing in verse 27, Luke tells us that:

27 A large crowd of people was following Jesus, including some women who were sad and crying for him. 28 But Jesus turned and said to them, “Women of Jerusalem, don’t cry for me. Cry for yourselves and for your children. 29 The time is coming when people will say, ‘Blessed are the women who cannot have children and who have no babies to nurse.’ 30 Then people will say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us!’ And they will say to the hills, ‘Cover us!’ 31 If they act like this now when life is good, what will happen when bad times come?”

In this passage, we see Jesus predicting worse circumstances in the future when He sees people crying for what was taking place and happening to Him. On one level, this speaks to the amazing compassion Jesus had. While facing some of the worst pain and ridicule imaginable, we see Jesus focusing on others. While what Jesus says isn’t all that comforting when we look at the message, He clearly shifts the focus away from wanting or needing pity.

However, with that said, another level we can see Jesus drawing our attention to in this passage is that excessively focusing on or dwelling on what He went through isn’t productive in the long-term – especially if our focusing on this event causes us to feel sad for Jesus. We shouldn’t be sad that Jesus faced the cross; we should be glad.

While the temptation is present to believe Jesus died too young or too soon, the truth is that Jesus’ death is the only way any of us can hope to experience a life beyond the one we are currently in. When God gave up His life for us, we are able to accept the life He offers in exchange for the one we messed up. This is what Jesus accomplished. We shouldn’t feel sad that Jesus died. Instead, we should feel eternally grateful for what His death accomplished!

Looking at what Jesus describes in His message, we see a prediction of a time when people will look to those who cannot give birth and consider them blessed. I don’t know if a time like this has happened yet, or if Jesus’ prediction is still to be fulfilled, however, what He describes next makes me think Jesus is describing something that will happen immediately prior to His second coming.

When people call out for the mountains to fall on them and the hills to cover them, this sounds like the wicked people of the world realizing they picked the wrong side when Jesus returns as King. Part of me wonders if leading up to this point in history will be a point where humanity loses the ability to reproduce.

I will be the first to say that this is pure speculation. I have no idea what the final months, weeks, or days will be like leading up to Jesus’ return. However, what I do know is that Jesus’ return will catch the wicked people off guard, while being a welcome relief for God’s people.

Jesus closes with an interesting statement. In verse 31, He says, “If they act like this now when life is good, what will happen when bad times come?” Many translations describe this as a green tree verses a dry tree. The New International Version of the Bible describes Jesus’ words as, “For if people do these things when the tree is green, what will happen when it is dry?

The big challenge I see in Jesus’ closing words is that when times are good and people are ridiculing, abusing, and rejecting Jesus and His followers, how much worse it will be when times in the world are not good. Hinted at here is that prior to Jesus’ return, there will be a time when the world rapidly declines – and when this decline happens, God’s people will be blamed for it.

While I don’t know what will happen, how bad things will get, or how severe the hostility towards God’s people will ultimately be, we can be certain that how they rejected Jesus when times were going good will be nothing when compared to how they will treat His followers when things are bad.

However, as a follower of Jesus, I know that regardless of what happens immediately before His return and how rejected I may be among others, my reward is in heaven and I’d rather focus on the life that is to come without sin than trying to salvage a life that has been messed up by sin.

As we come to the end of another podcast episode, here are the challenges I will leave you with:

Be sure to always seek God first in your life. Regardless of what happens in this life, remember that Jesus will return triumphant, and His return will signal the end of sin. Remember that Heaven is the reward for God’s people, and that nothing in this life is worth risking our future life and our future reward.

Also, always be sure to pray and study the Bible for yourself because these are the two best ways to grow your relationship with God while also keeping your focus on heaven.

And as I end every set of challenges by saying in one way or another, never stop short of, back away from, chicken out of, or let Satan trick you out of where God wants to lead you to in your life with Him!

Flashback Episode: Year 4 – Episode 47: While on the road to Calvary, Jesus gives a warning to the women who are crying for Him. Discover some things we can learn about Jesus and about God from this event, and from where Jesus places His focus.

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