Luke 23:31 (ESV)
Jesus was bearing His cross to Calvary. When He could no longer carry it, being worn out by blood loss and emotional distress, Simon of Cyrene was put into service to bear it for Him. As He continued along the road to Golgotha, the women were “mourning and lamenting for him” (v. 27). When Jesus saw and heard this, He said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and your children” (v. 28). He went on to warn them about the terrible days that were ahead when Jerusalem would be destroyed by Roman legions (vv. 29-30). Then came this unusual and somewhat strange proverb: “For if they do these things when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?”
What did this proverbial saying mean? Obviously, “these things” were the arrest, torture, and crucifixion of our Lord. The “wood” was “green,” meaning it was not ready for burning. Green wood burns very slowly because it has life within it. Jesus was the “green wood” that was being judged by men. If judgment was this fierce on the green wood, how much more terrible would it be on the “dry wood”?
The “dry wood” expression was looking ahead to the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans. This judgment was just, for the Jews had refused their Messiah and brought about His crucifixion. In their rejection of Jesus, they were signaling that they would not return to the Lord as He had commanded them many times before over hundreds of years. When judgment fell, the “dry wood” would burn quickly and painfully.
How does this all apply to us today? While you’re still alive and breathing, you are the “green wood.” The possibility for receiving eternal life through Jesus still exists. All you must do is call upon Him in faith and receive the forgiveness of your sins. But, if you wait too long, the green wood will die and become dry. After death, it is too late to turn to Jesus. The judgment you receive then will be just and complete. It will last for eternity in a real place called Hell. Now is the time to repent and turn to God through Jesus Christ. Now is the day of green wood. This time will not last forever. Act now while you still can!