What did Jesus mean in his Good Friday words to the 'daughters of Jerusalem'?


I’m having trouble discerning what Luke was trying to communicate when he referred to the women of Jerusalem on Jesus’ trek up to Golgotha [in Luke 23:28-31]. If this is exactly what Jesus said, I have no idea what he meant. Can you shed some light on this?


Thanks to Kristyn for something Christians might ponder during the Holy Week season of sorrow that precedes Easter joy.

Jesus’ saying was poetic prophecy that, yes, can be opaque. This shows the value of owning a good one-volume Bible commentary and a “study Bible” to help with understanding. The Religion Guy consulted a variety of such reference works and they generally agree on the meaning of Jesus’ Good Friday words and the Old Testament prophecies he was quoting.

Among the four New Testament Gospels, this material only appears in Luke chapter 23. The lead-up in verse 27 merits special attention. Luke reports that as Jesus struggled on the road to crucifixion he was followed by “a great multitude of the people, and of women who bewailed and lamented him.” The Temple authorities had rallied crowd support in seeking execution by Rome, and anti-Semites have exploited this in the Christian past.

Luke’s account tells us Jewish opinion was split. The women gathering to bemoan execution was something of a public ritual in that culture. But Luke indicates there was a “multitude” of common Jews who identified with Jesus’ movement or lamented his unjust sufferings. It seems likely some were followers of Jesus in town who had joined the “Palm Sunday” hosannas days earlier.

Then we come to verses 28-31 and three linked prophecies of doom that Jesus addressed to the women: “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 gave suck!’  Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us’; and to the hills, ‘Cover us.’ For if they do this when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?”

Jesus’ first oracle was paraphrased by Protestant scholar I. Howard Marshall, former president of the British New Testament Society: “Do not weep so much for me as for yourselves and your children” because in a coming time it “would be better not to have children than to see their sufferings.”

Continue reading "What did Jesus mean in his Good Friday words to the 'daughters of Jerusalem'?" by Richard Ostling.

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