Dry Wood

April 8th, 2009

Luke 23:31
23:28-31
 23:31.  "For if they do these things in the green wood, what will be done in the dry?''

Background:
Jesus is being led away with Simon of Cyrene to help bear the cross. Women of Jerusalem are weeping over him. Jesus turns to them to tell them not to weep for him, but for themselves and their children.

A day is to come when those who never bore children will be called blessed.

Those people in that time will desire, to ask, that the mountains and hills fall on them. They will want to just be dead, rather than live through such times.

Now for the featured verse:

What does this mean exactly? What is the green tree, what is the dry tree that Jesus talks about? Is it life in general? Society, morality? Probably a question for theologians to debate over until the end of time, or at least until Jesus returns.

I have my own idea, but first, a word from a couple famous theologians.

<blockquote>
Therefore weep not for him, but let us weep for our own sins, and the sins of our children, which caused his death; and weep for fear of the miseries we shall bring upon ourselves, if we slight his love, and reject his grace. If God delivered him up to such sufferings as these, because he was made a sacrifice for sin, what will he do with sinners themselves, who make themselves a dry tree, a corrupt and wicked generation, and good for nothing! The bitter sufferings of our Lord Jesus should make us stand in awe of the justice of God. The best saints, compared with Christ, are dry trees; if he suffer, why may not they expect to suffer? <br>
-- Matthew Henry
</blockquote>

So, Matthew Henry puts the trees to be people. those who believe being as green trees and the dry tree as the sinful unbelievers. Actually the dryness itself is sin and even the highest saints among us is still counted as dry wood. If even Jesus, the only truly green tree suffered, why should we expect to not suffer?

Sounds good, but it somehow seems to be missing something.

<blockquote>
"If the innocent substitute for sinners, suffer thus, what will be done when the sinner himself-the dry tree-shall fall into the hands of an angry God?" <br>
-- Spurgeon
</blockquote>

Again, he seems to say that Jesus is the green tree, If he, the innocent, is being made to suffer for sinners, then how greatly will the real sinners, dry trees, suffer at the hand of God in the final judgement.

The problem I have with these two similar ideas is the whole context of where these words are spoken.

Let me review it again. On his way to the place of his death some women were weeping over him. Not everybody is joining the mob mentality that surround this tragic event. As sorrowful as they are, Jesus stops just long enough to tell them don't cry for me. Cry for yourselves and your children. He knew, though they didn't, that a infinitley better blessing would come out of this.

Jesus goes on to say that a time is still coming where people will mourn that they had kids, that a woman who never had them would be considered blessed. It will be in those future days when people will mourn and want the mountains to fall, and the earth to just swallow them up.

If that kind of mourning is to take place in this future day, and while the trees are still green, what kind of mourning will be done among the dry trees?

Let the questions roll! When is the day spoken of? The end times? The green trees do seem to be those who have an amount of faith in God, and Jesus. The dry trees do seem to be those who either are without any belief, or those who have been cut down long enough that they have dried out, and faith has leftthem.

If the day spoken of is the end times, what is the significance here? At the moment that Jesus was still standing there, and talking, the tree of the body of Christ was still green and alive. These women were weeping, but it was only the bite of the saw at the tree trunk. Jesus says basically, that a day in the future is coming. A time when there will still be green trees with dry trees. A tree can still be green even after it is cut down. It does take time for wood to cure and be dry enough to be put to use.

In the day spoken of there will be something that happens to cause even greater mourning among the green trees. Those green ones being those who remain and still have that element of faith in them. The have reason to hope in God, yet they mourn so greatly they want mountains to fall and end their lives. With that level of despair, the ones who are without that hope must have a kind of mourning that goes beyond all words.

Possibly this does speak of the last day, when all people stand before God. From these statements, we can say that if the green trees, believers, mourn over the injustice done to Jesus to pay for our sins, the dry trees, unbelievers, who may not be mourning now, will be so much more mournful when standing in judgement before the face of God.

Another thought comes to mind in this word picture. The condition of the trees, going from green to dry, could mean the condition of the body of believers at large. The day that is coming, being that of Jesus return, will be one where there is still green in the wood. Those believers will face much more trying tragedies, and just want an end to it all. The dry ones being those who have fallen away, and are now without hope.

Unlike a fallen tree, that can only hope to keep drying out, faith in God is rejuvenating. Strive to keep your relation and faith alive and growing. The road won't be easy. The going filled with sorrow and despair. As bad as that may seem, the condition of those without that relationship with God will have an even worse time of it. Keep God in the middle of the things you do.

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