If they do these things when the wood is green…
There is so much to look at in the excruciating way that our Lord died for us on the cross. This time I’m going to focus on v. 27-31 because at first glance they are the least clear and are worthy therefore of comment.
When wood is first cut, it is called green wood. It’s not yet suitable for burning as it is too wet and it’s no good for carpentry yet for the same reason. It needs to dry out first. It then becomes easier to handle and use. Jesus speaks of what is happening to Him then and there and says “If they do this when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?” Jesus wasn’t a rebel leader in the upcoming Jewish war with the Romans around AD70. He was green wood, His mission was about peace and repentance. It was about bringing God’s kingdom for Jew and Gentile. If they are willing to crucify Him, what will happen when Jerusalem is filled with dry wood – young zealots eager to do violence. If the Romans will crucify the Prince of Peace, what will they do to those bent on war? Hence Jesus saying “weep for your children”. There was so much slaughter around AD70 that people would indeed say “Blessed are the barren and the wombs that never bore”.
Jesus, as noted in a previous section, is being numbered with the transgressors, He is dying in place of Barabbas, a revolutionary. The woes He has pronounced on Jerusalem are coming on Him first. He is bearing the sins of the many.
The King has come and they are finally saying it, but in mockery. Jesus is a completely different type of King with a different type of kingdom. The royal cup-bearer has come; only it’s a Roman soldier with a cheap soldier’s thirst quencher, not fine wine.
But Jesus’ true royalty shines out with His amazing words. “Father forgive them, they know not what they do” – these are not the words of traditional martyrs cursing their executioners. Then finally he offers paradise today to the repentant thief.
What a God, What a King. Thank you Jesus for the cross.