When the Tree Is Dry

Dry Wood

“If this can happen when the tree is green what will happen when it is dry?”

-Luke 23:31

A memorable utterance. But what does this mean?…

Calvin, as well as others, viewed this statement of Jesus, on His way to the cross, as being a solemn pronouncement that while innocents on earth may suffer at the hands of the guilty, it will not always be so.

“[T]he lamentation of the women is misplaced, if they do not likewise expect and dread the awful judgment of God which hangs over the wicked. And whenever our distress of mind, arising from the bitterness of the cross, goes to excess, it is proper to soothe it by this consolation, that God, who now permits his own people to be unjustly oppressed, will not ultimately allow the wicked to escape punishment. If we were not sustained by this hope, we must unavoidably sink under our afflictions.[i]    John Calvin Commentary for Luke 23.31


Perhaps, being two thousand years along in history can add even more insight to the Savior’s meaning. As we consider the hindsight of past experiences in church history, the state of our contemporary cultural status — its position and the direction of its heading, as it flows through bible prophecy; insights being revealed like pages of a book being turned, bringing further divine illumination with such scrutiny. It is even more evident that this is as true today as when Christ uttered the statement with labored breath, dragging the cross.

My further perspective: if they can crucify Christ with all the physical evidence of over-riding eye-witnesses of who He is while he was in the world, how much more will they crucify his followers? And how much more so as time goes by and his message is old news, though ageless and exceedingly relevant good news, still?

As the message of the cross is saturate across our culture, how many more deaf ears has it fallen on just for the reason of its ready availability? We might even say the Christ of glory is hiding in plain sight amongst us because of the ennui of the general populace developed towards His ever-presence.

However, the Lord knows who are his and will not let even one fall through the cracks of our culture.

The believing heart should take very seriously, and well note where our culture departs from the word of Christ. And choose the way appointed for us as sojourners in a world not meant to provide solace for those who have heard rumors of another land, and have glimpsed delicate images of the heart beyond the veil, toward Life; that thin, gossamer-like veil that barely separates the physical from the eternal, the profane from the sacred.

Let us, therefore press on toward the goal.


12 “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:12-17)

[i] Luke 23 Commentary – John Calvin’s Commentaries on the Bible.

2 thoughts on “When the Tree Is Dry”

  1. GW,

    I am in full agreement with your personal thoughts and take on this. Different words can express the same meaning. My thoughts also include additional things Jesus taught us about the end days — saying that the hearts of the people will be cold —Matthew 24. Then, chapters 2 & 3 of Revelation picture that deadness and coldness in the church. Matthew 7 tells of supposed Christians claiming to have done great things for Jesus — but Jesus will tell them to depart from Him because they practice lawlessness.

    That lawlessness can be seen in many modern churches, as they have accepted the ways and traditions of this world. Though they imagine they are alive and green because of all their activities, popularity, and riches, they are dry, dead wood because they have no love for their Savior.

    The world became evil at the Fall. It was very evil in Jesus’ day, when the gospel was new, fresh, and green. So, what will the world be like when the hearts of the people becomes even more dry, dead and cold? Only Jesus can strengthen us to endure and He has promised to shorten the time of tribulation for our sake.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this.


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