Green Wood

by MW Cook

It’s nice being back in Canada, but I’m shocked at how suddenly I am busier than I have ever been in my life. If anyone has good advice for getting the plethora of things I want to do done, please let me know!

For now I’ll share a few thoughts I’ve been having.

For if they do these things when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?

So Jesus is on his way down the Via Dolorosa he makes this very enigmatic comment to the women weeping for him. Immediately I wondered what he meant by wood being green. Is it dry yet? I scribbled a few notes into a book I carry around. I don’t know if I have this figured out, but I’ll share what I have.

‘They’ must refer to the authorities, especially the religious authorities with whom Jesus had most of his beef. I think, though, you could take it also to mean society in general, especially (again) religious society. Religious sub-cultures are almost always willing to commit any evil so long as respected religious leaders tell them it’s a good idea.

‘These things’ refer specifically to the crucifixion of Christ. And, by association, refer to every act of deceit, injustice, abuse of power and misuse of truth that the authorities and their followers commit. No one could argue against the fact that these religious leaders completely betrayed their sacred commitment to aid people in coming to a fuller understanding of God and brotherly love. And it seems they did this while the wood was ‘green’.

Green wood. Healthy. Strong. Resistant to burning. The authorities and religious leaders of that day had it made. People respected the institutions that were set up. A rabbi was generally considered a good man. A governor was obeyed. With the right man in charge the conditions were ripe for life, health and resilience. They had a decent shot at fulfilling their purpose.

But they blew it. Big time. And they blew it while all the conditions were right. And now, partially because they blew it, the conditions are no longer right. The institutions have lost the trust of society and, as a result, lost all power to make things right. But they haven’t lost the power to make a buck.

So the wood is dry. A rabbi or pastor or mayor is hard-pressed to make a positive difference in his circles because no one trusts him anymore. But he could still make a profit from his office or religion. And if he can’t make a positive difference anyway, why not just sell out?

Dry wood sucks.