6 July 2012

Luke 23:26-31

"For if they do this when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?" (v. 31)


In the account of the life of Jesus Luke's Gospel takes particular care to detail Jesus dealing with the marginalised of society in which he finds himself. So it is not surprising that Luke, of all the Gospel writers, should be the one to detail Jesus' conversation with the women witnessing the crucifixion. His focus on the role of Simon is also typical although not unique. Carrying one's cross was generally deemed to be part of the punishment for those condemned to crucifixion but here Simon is conscripted to help Jesus instead. Simon is not mentioned in any other context in the Gospels and it seems likely that he was a visitor in Jerusalem for the Passover: this would explain both the reference to his coming in from the country and the interest that Luke has taken in his role.

The wailing of the women at this point typify a traditional expression of grief in Jesus' day and they provide a sharp contrast with the crowds who have called for Jesus' crucifixion only hours before. Jesus turns their lament around however by stating that they should mourn for the future punishment of Jerusalem which will come a as a result of their failure to repent. The language here recalls Jesus' lament over the city (Luke 21:23) and provides a powerful warning in response to his violent death at the hands of the city's rulers. In his cryptic reference to the dry and green wood Jesus may well be asking the question: If they do this to me while I am living in the midst of them, what will they do when I am gone ?


 To Ponder

  • If Jesus was alive today how do you think the media would respond to him and treat him?
  • What might you do differently today if Jesus was walking through the today with you? 

Bible notes author

The Revd Jenny Wilkes

Jenny Wilkes studied at the Wesley Study Centre in Durham. She is stationed to the United North East Circuit and was ordained in July 2009.