A Severe Mercy


Many of us can remember the vintage television commercial featuring a crowded, noisy area where two men are discussing investments. One says to the other, “Well, my broker is EF Hutton and EF Hutton says…” Suddenly, all activity ceased as everyone leaned in close while a voice-over announced, “When EF Hutton talks, people listen.” In today’s passage, Jesus, bloodied and beaten, stopped and spoke prophetic words of warning as he staggered towards Calvary. Let’s stop the hustle and bustle of our day to lean in and hear his words.

  • Whose voice captures your attention? How seriously do you take the words of Jesus?


26 And as they led him away, they seized one Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, and laid on him the cross, to carry it behind Jesus. 27 And there followed him a great multitude of the people and of women who were mourning and lamenting for him. 28 But turning to them Jesus said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. 29 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!’ 30 Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us,’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us.’ 31 For if they do these things when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?”

32 Two others, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him. 33 And when they came to the place that is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on his right and one on his left.

English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


The prophetic words of warning Jesus uttered in this passage told of a time when the Temple in Jerusalem would be destroyed, in AD 70. But his words also held a warning for those who would come thousands of years later.

  1. Why did a severely beaten Jesus tell the women to stop weeping for him?
  2. How did Jesus predict the women would feel in the prophetic “coming days” (vs. 29)?
  3. Verse 30 took it to an even more intense level. For what would the desperate people begin to ask? What did this suggest about the nature of the impending destruction?
  4. In the metaphor in verse 31, Jesus was the innocent “wood [that] is green,” and the “dry” wood represented the unbelieving people of Israel. (Consequently, the “dry” wood is also any one of us who chooses not to acknowledge the Messiah.) What can we infer that Jesus was saying to those who reject or dismiss him, both then and now?
  5. Think of those people in your life who would be considered “dry wood” and pray for an opportunity to show love and speak truth into their lives this week.


Jesus’ words may seem a little strange, even severe. But just like a parent who issues a stern warning to safeguard a child on the brink of making a dangerous decision, Jesus’ warning was full of mercy and grace to those in Israel then and to all of us now. His words were tough, but just minutes later, Jesus’ actions would lay bare a severe mercy—the ultimate act of unselfish love on the Cross. Let the reality of what awaits the lost propel you to gladly share words of life—the gospel—with them today.

  • Pray for God to give you a renewed burden for the lost and courage to speak the truth in love.