It was not many verses ago that Luke was telling us about Peter weeping bitterly after his denial. David Bentley Hart rightly points out that this is a big deal for Christian aesthetics. In the classical world, a minor peasant character wouldn’t have a personal transformation worth speaking about. His tears wouldn’t matter. The gospels turn the worlds aesthetics on their head, and the crying of a poor fisherman becomes something of infinite value.
Now we have to confront the narrow road. All tears are not the same. There is a way of crying over Jesus that fetishizes his death. Crucifixion and whipping are gruesome and horrible ways to day, but it happened to a lot more people than Jesus. Indeed, Jesus wasn’t the only innocent person that the Romans killed. In fact, there isn’t anything much unique about the outward circumstances. Surely, there were other godly people who were wrongly tortured to death. That’s not to say it’s not awful and it shouldn’t bring us to tears. It should.
However, in our spiritual lives, Jesus wants to keep us from Romanticizing his death. Jesus is always relentless — even on his way to the cross — when it comes to turning his followers back upon themselves. In there very sincere weeping, they were avoiding the real problem. They think their focus is on Jesus, but it is actually a selfish weeping. By telling them to weep for themselves, Jesus is — counterintuitively — setting them free to focus on him. This idea can be developed much more, but I’m not doing it tonight.