Fourth station of the cross - Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem.
And there followed him a great multitude of the people and of women who were mourning and lamenting for him. But turning to them Jesus said, “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!’ Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us,’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us.’ For if they do these things when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?”
This is admittedly, one of those strange prophecy sort of things that Jesus has said in the gospel readings. For my church's 3-hour Good Friday vigil, artists were asked to create their representation of various stations of the cross during the first 2 hours and then we placed them in the last hour. We only read up to the first bolded part on this station.
I mean, what do you do with the rest of it? Every depiction I found on the internet showed Jesus with his cross casually slung behind one shoulder while addressing a crowd of properly mournful women. No artist seems to touch the rest of it.
Come on Jesus, I know you are suffering and all, but is this any time to be saying these weird future voodoo things? These are not very comforting words!
I looked up some commentary on the verse and found some interesting thoughts, particularly on the last sentence: "For if they do these things when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?"
At first, I was led to believe that Jesus, having not sinned, is the green wood. And him saying this is essentially saying, "If even I am being put to death, then how much more terror will come onto you sinners in due time?"
Not really satisfied with this explanation, I'm wondering if this really means, "Since I'm am with you and they are putting me to death. How much more suffering you will experience as my followers when I am not physically with you?" As we know, many of his early followers faced similar or even more cruel deaths at the hand of the Romans.
Or perhaps he is simply seeing the the future destruction of Jerusalem as happened in 70 AD, a mere 37 years after his death?
I don't think I can entirely unpack this passage...that's the tough mystery with these prophetic statements. Whatever the true meaning (and there may be multiple) it is interesting that Jesus would take the time to teach women even as he is going through his own suffering and humiliation.