As I was studying this section of scripture, I became fascinated by one verse, which I had never taken much notice of before. This section talks about Jesus being led away to die and provides the detail of how Simon of Cyrene is compelled to assist carry the beam for Jesus and Jesus discussions with others. I have written about those points previously and the links are at the foot of this post.
However the scripture that struck me here was verse 31, which says, “For if they do this when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?” It is this that we will look at today.
While looking to understand what this might mean in the context of this section I read several other interpretations by other people. Most seemed to hold that Jesus was referring to the fact that if the Romans would carry out such an atrocity towards Him in a time of relative stability and peace, what would they do when it became unstable.
They refer specifically to the sacking of Jerusalem and the destruction of the temple by the Romans in 70 AD. At that time the situation had become unstable, there was rebellion among the Jews and within the Jews themselves there were opposing factions. The people wanted to fight the Romans and the leaders wanted to take a more moderate approach.
My Thoughts on these Interpretations
I don’t believe Jesus was talking about the sacking of Jerusalem at this point. He certainly did talk about it at other times, specifically in Matthew 24:1-2, but I don’t believe that was the point of his discussion at this time.
Nowhere did Jesus appear at all concerned about the Romans. He does not decry the fact that they were ruling in Judea, nor did he oppose them at any time.
The people he did speak of frequently were the religious leaders of the time. He called the scribes, Pharisees, Sadducees and the Herodians hypocrites and showed them up as devious, cunning and not following the ways of God.
He showed also that His ministry was to come and speak to Israel, not the foreigners as we saw when the Canaanite woman approached him seeking a healing for her daughter. In that story we see Jesus said to the Canaanite woman, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” (Matthew 15:24) But it was through her faith that she received the healing she was requesting for the Lord showed her compassion on the grounds of her faith.
So it is unlikely that the saying, “For if they do this when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?” in verse 31 is directed at the Romans and the upcoming sacking of Jerusalem.
So What Is He Saying?
And that’s a very good question! If we consider the actual saying itself and align it to the circumstances we get a glimmer of what He may have been referring to.
When the wood is green it still has the sap in it, which is how this verse is rendered in some translations. When the sap is still in the tree it is still alive or has life in it. But when the wood is dry it is lifeless and dead. Also when wood is green and full of sap it is hard to burn, but when it is dry it catching fire easily and burns to ash with little smoke.
Now consider Jesus circumstance. He is the Author of life and He came to the earth to preach a new way to receive life. Christianity had just begun and it was alive in Judea under Jesus teaching and instruction. And what did the religious rulers of the time do? They tried to wipe Jesus and Christianity from the face of the earth. Why? Because Jesus teaching undermined their positions and would remove their power base.
Satan worked with these people to try to get rid of this teaching for it was he who entered Judas to deceive Jesus into the hands of the chief priests.
So all of this opposition was taking place while this was all new and full of life when Jesus walked the earth. In my opinion this is what I think he was saying when he referred to, “…if they do this when the wood is green.”
And they did all of this because they lacked faith. They did not believe in God and were not truly seeking the ways of God. They were seeking their own desires rather than the will of God.
Down to Today
And now here we are some two thousand odd years later. Look around at the world today. The depth and opportunity for sin is at an all time high. There is no fear of God and no desire to seek the truth of the Gospel of Christ in the world.
And when we look at some of the practices of the modern church we see all kinds of things occurring that have no basis in the teachings of Jesus Christ. The classic one today is the wealth ministry taugh in some places. There is also the teaching of divine health in other places, which says that if you get sick you are either lacking in faith or not following the truth of the Covenant. What utter rubbish!
So if the religious leaders taught wrong things when Christ was alive and the “wood was green,” should we be surprised now that the “wood is dry” that they do not do worse? The rise of atheism, false religions and forms of religion as Paul wrote about when he said, “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own likings, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander into myths.” (2 Timothy 4:3-4)
Today the wood is dry and much of what is preached as Christianity has no life in it. Paul described our time perfectly when he said,
“1 But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of stress.
2 For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy,
3 inhuman, implacable, slanderers, profligates, fierce, haters of good,
4 treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God,
5 holding the form of religion but denying the power of it. Avoid such people.” (2 Timothy 3:1-5)
And today the dry rot has set into the church for there are too many who hold the form of religion but dent the power of it.
The truth of the covenant leads us to freedom. We are set free from sin, set free from law and through the power of the Holy Spirit we receive the power of God to be transformed into the likeness of God. We have the power to be perfected in Christ. But does mainstream religion teach this? No! It still holds people in bondage to sin, calling them sinners and no sinner has seen or known God.
Find the truth for the truth will make you free. Seek the Lord Jesus and throw off the shackles of the “dry wooded” religion of our times. Christ will teach you if you will go to him and be prepared to listen. These are my thoughts on this matter. I would very much like to know what you think, so please add a comment or send me a note.
(Photo sourced from stock.xchng taken by Kristin Smith)