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WEEP FOR YOURSELF!

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Morning, February 14, 2010

“Weep not for me, but weep for yourselves” (Luke 23:28).


Picture the scene in your mind. Jesus has been cruelly scourged. Now the Roman governor, Pilate, sends Jesus away with a group of soldiers down the street – toward the place of crucifixion. Seeing that Jesus is exhausted and half dead from the beating He had received, fearing that He might die on the road before they crucify Him, the soldiers call a man out of the crowd, and force him to help Jesus carry the Cross.

A great crowd of people follow Jesus. It is made up of those who had cried “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” a few minutes earlier. A number of others have now joined them. In the midst of this crowd is Jesus, His clothing soaked through with Blood from His scourging, Blood running down His face from the crown of thorns on His head. His “visage was so marred” (Isaiah 52:14) “that He could scarcely be recognized” (Ryrie Study Bible, note on Isaiah 52:14). And now Jesus is being led to a shameful death by crucifixion.

In the crowd that follows Him are the gloating faces of the priests and Pharisees who want to see Him dead. There too are the brutal Roman soldiers, hardened by so many similar executions that they express no sympathy for Him. And there is the howling mob of those who have been bribed by the priests to cry out for His crucifixion. Yet in this savage throng there are some women. They press ahead of the others, and come directly behind Jesus. They begin to cry aloud and bewail Him, as if they are attending the funeral of a friend or relative.

The larger crowd pays no attention to these women. But their bitter wailing and tearful faces catch the attention of Jesus. He stops, and turning around toward them, He says,

“Weep not for me, but weep for yourselves” (Luke 23:28).

That verse naturally divides itself into two points.

I. First, “weep not for me.”

Some commentators say these women were professional mourners. But I doubt that they are right. If they had been paid to “mourn” for Him, Jesus would have known it, “for he knew what was in man” (John 2:25). But, instead of calling them hypocrites, Jesus said, “Weep not for me.” Since Jesus knows our hearts, He knew that they really were weeping for Him.

Another commentator says that “Their lamenting is one of excessive pity for Jesus…such sentimentality is wholly fruitless.” It seems to me that this comment doesn’t make sense! Why, of course these women wept when they saw Jesus in such agony! I would be ashamed to call the tears of these good women, “excessive pity” or “sentimentality.” It seems more strange to me that they were the only ones weeping. Many in the crowd had been healed by the Saviour. Others had been fed by Him – and all of them knew that He was innocent. If you saw someone treated the way they treated Him, I hope you would feel tears coming into your eyes!

This emotion is called “pathos” – that which arouses feelings of pity, sorrow, sympathy and compassion. These women had real sorrow and compassion for Jesus in His suffering, when they “bewailed [him] and lamented him” (Luke 23:27). The chief priests felt no pity for Jesus in His suffering. They even mocked Him after He was nailed to the Cross (Matthew 27:41). The Roman soldiers showed no sympathy for Jesus when they beat Him on the head and spit in His face. They were hard-hearted, unfeeling and cruel.

But these women wailed and wept for Jesus as He went to the Cross. I think they should be praised for such feelings of pity. And it is a good thing when people feel sorrow for Jesus in that hour of His suffering and shame. As Frederick Faber put it,

Oh come and mourn with me awhile;
Oh come ye to the Saviour’s side;
Oh come together, let us mourn:
Jesus, our Lord, is crucified.

Have we no tears to shed for Him,
While soldiers scoff and [priests] deride,
Ah! Look how patiently He hangs;
Jesus, our Lord, is crucified.
   (“They Crucified Him” by Frederick W. Faber, 1814-1863;
      to the tune of “‘Tis Midnight, and on Olive’s Brow”).

And yet Jesus turned to these weeping women and said, “Weep not for me” (Luke 23:28). Why did He say that? Their weeping was a normal emotion. It was far better than the pitiless cruelty of the mob, and the mockery of the soldiers and the priests. It showed some tenderness of heart. And even though such tenderness is only a natural emotion, it is often followed by real conviction of sin. I well remember tears coming to my own eyes as a child, when I thought of the suffering of Jesus. But it was not until years later than I felt sorrow for my sin and came to Him in a real conversion.

Last Sunday I preached on Jesus’ crown of thorns. After the sermon a young man said to me, “I feel sorrow over Jesus’ death.” I told him that it isn’t wrong to feel sorrow for His suffering. But I also told him that this kind of sorrow does not produce a real conversion. A much deeper feeling, a conviction of sin, must be felt before one is truly born again. And that takes us to the second point.

II. Second, “but weep for yourselves.”

“Weep not for me, but weep for yourselves” (Luke 23:28).

Feeling sorrow over Jesus’ suffering is not nearly as important as weeping for your sins – which made it necessary for Him to suffer and die upon the Cross. That is why Jesus said,

“…but weep for yourselves” (Luke 23:28).

When Jesus told them, “weep for yourselves,” He meant that they should weep for the sins they had committed, which made it necessary for Him to suffer and die to save them. The Apostle Paul made it clear that there are two kinds of sorrow when he said,

“…godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation…but the sorrow of the world worketh death” (II Corinthians 7:10).

Those women who wept for Jesus only had “the sorrow of the world.” Such sorrow is only a passing emotion. It does not lead to conversion. A person who only feels sorry for Jesus may take pride in it, and think, “I am close to becoming a Christian now.” But they are far away from becoming a real Christian if all they feel is pity. All pity regarding Jesus’ suffering is useless, even when it brings tears to the eyes. Dr. Lenski said, “Let sinners weep for themselves and for their sins, let them sob like Peter (Luke 22:62); their tears may then lead to something that is worth while” (R. C. H. Lenski, D.D., The Interpretation of St. Luke’s Gospel, Augsburg Publishing House, 1946, p. 1128; note on Luke 23:28).

The tears that lead to real conversion are tears of grief for sin! A true understanding of sin can only come by seeing how far you are from the holiness that God’s law demands. The law says,

“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might” (Deuteronomy 6:5).

Have you done that? Can you honestly say to yourself that you have loved God with all your heart, and all your soul, and all your might? Have you?

In all honesty, in fact, you hardly think of God at all! Admit it! And when you do think of Him, you have no real love for Him. Admit it! God is hardly ever in your thoughts when you are not in church. Admit it! Have you not, then, continually broken this greatest of all commandments? Isn’t it true that you have sinned against God in your heart throughout your life? And, since it is true, admit it to God with grief for your sin! The Westminster Shorter Catechism says,


Question 11: May we not truly grieve for sin, though we do not weep for it?

Answer:       If we can readily weep for other things, and cannot weep for sin, the truth of our grief is very questionable (The Shorter Catechism of the Westminster Confession Explained and Proved from Scripture, by Thomas Vincent, The Banner of Truth Trust, 2004 reprint of the 1674 edition, p. 230).


Jesus said,

“Weep not for me, but weep for yourselves” (Luke 23:28).

The Apostle James said,

“Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord…” (James 4:9-10).

If you do not feel sorrowful and sad and broken by your sins, how can you ever become a real Christian? Dr. Machen said, “Christianity…does begin with [a] broken heart; it begins with a consciousness of sin” (J. Gresham Machen, Ph.D., Christianity and Liberalism, Eerdmans, 1990 reprint of the 1923 edition, p. 65). Jesus said,

“Weep not for me, but weep for yourselves” (Luke 23:28).

Weep not for Him, because He went to the Cross on purpose, to pay the penalty for your sins. And He went to the Cross joyfully, as we read in Hebrews 12:2,

“Who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2).

And so Jesus says,

“Weep not for me, but weep for yourselves” (Luke 23:28).

Do not pity Christ, but pity yourself. Weep for yourself, because your sins will bring judgment upon you. Weep for yourself because you have lived in sin, and will endure endless punishment for it. Weep for yourself because you have thought so lightly about the salvation of your soul. Weep for yourself, because you have thought so little about Christ’s sacrifice for your sins. Weep for yourself, because you have,

“…counted the blood of the covenant…an unholy thing, and [have] done despite unto the Spirit of grace” (Hebrews 10:29).

Weep for yourself, as Charles Wesley did, who wrote,

Depth of mercy? Can there be
   Mercy still reserved for me?
Can my God His wrath forbear –
   Me, the chief of sinners, spare?
Depth of mercy! Can there be
   Mercy still reserved for me?

I have long withstood His grace,
   Long provoked Him to His face,
Would not hearken to His calls,
   Grieved Him by a thousand falls.
Depth of mercy! Can there be
   Mercy still reserved for me?
(“Depth of Mercy” by Charles Wesley, 1707-1788).

“Weep not for me, but weep for yourselves” (Luke 23:28),

for if you do not weep for your own sins now, there will be no opportunity for you to do so after death.

That was a terrible scene that I pictured for you just now – Jesus bearing His Cross and the women weeping as they followed Him to the place of crucifixion. But how much more awful will be the scene of some of you carrying your own sins downward into Hell-fire! Sin is the cross to which your soul is fastened, and sinful thoughts and habits are the nails that hold you there. Your soul is carrying your sins, and loving to carry them! You are going toward an eternal execution, but you are laughing each step of the way! Every step you take brings you closer to the flames. And yet, until now, you have felt no fear – no sorrow for your sin – no contrition – no weeping! If that describes you, I plead with you in the words of Christ,

“Weep not for me, but weep for yourselves” (Luke 23:28).

Now incline me to repent,
   Let me now my sins lament;
Now my foul revolt deplore,
   Weep, believe, and sin no more…
Depth of mercy! Can there be
   Mercy still reserved for me?

(END OF SERMON)
You can read Dr. Hymers’ sermons each week on the Internet
at www.realconversion.com. Click on “Sermon Manuscripts.”

Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: Luke 23:27-33.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“Depth of Mercy” (by Charles Wesley, 1707-1788).


THE OUTLINE OF

WEEP FOR YOURSELF!

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“Weep not for me, but weep for yourselves” (Luke 23:28).

(Isaiah 52:14)

I.   First, “weep not for me,” Luke 23:28a; John 2:25;
Luke 23:27; Matthew 27:41.

II.  Second, “but weep for yourselves,” Luke 23:28b;
II Corinthians 7:10; Luke 22:62; Deuteronomy 6:5;
James 4:9-10; Hebrews 12:2; 10:29.