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THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO LUKE - Chapter 23 - Verse 31

Verse 31. For if they do these things in a green tree, & c. This seems to be a proverbial expression. A green tree is not easily set on fire; a dry one is easily kindled and burns rapidly; and the meaning of the passage is—

"If they, the Romans, do these things to me, who am

innocent and blameless; if they punish me in this

manner in the face of justice, what will they not

do in relation to this guilty nation? What security

have they that heavier judgments will not come upon

them? What desolations and woes may not be expected

when injustice and oppression have taken the place

of justice, and have set up a rule over this wicked

people?"

 

Our Lord alludes, evidently, to the calamities that would come upon them by the Romans in the destruction of their city and temple. The passage may be applied, however, without impropriety, and with great beauty and force, to the punishment of the wicked in the future world. Thus applied, it means that the sufferings of the Saviour, as compared with the sufferings of the guilty, were like the burning of a green tree as compared with the burning of one that is dry. A green tree is not adapted to burn; a dry one is. So the Saviour —innocent, pure, and holy—stood in relation to suffering. There were sufferings which an innocent being could not endure. There was remorse of conscience, the sense of guilt, punishment properly so called, and the eternity of woes. He had the consciousness of innocence, and he would not suffer for ever. He had no passions to be enkindled that would rage and ruin the soul. The sinner is adapted to sufferings, like a dry tree to the fire. He is guilty, and will suffer all the horrors of remorse of conscience. He will be punished literally. He has raging and impetuous passions, and they will be enkindled in hell, and will rage for ever and ever. The meaning is, that if the innocent Saviour suffered so much, the sufferings of the sinner for ever in hell must be more unspeakably dreadful. Yet Who could endure the sufferings of the Redeemer on the cross for a single day? Who could bear them for ever and ever, aggravated by all the horrors of a guilty conscience, and all the terrors of unrestrained anger, and hate, and fear, and wrath? Why WILL the wicked die?

{a} "For if they" Pr 11:31; Jer 25:29; Eze 20:47; 21:4; 1 Pe 4:17

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