"For if they do these things in a green tree, what shall be done in the dry?" Luke 23: 31.
The Saviour said these words to those women who wept and wailed when the soldiers brought Him to that place where He was to be crucified: "If they do these things in a green tree, what shall be done in the dry?" The Saviour was that green tree who should have still stood and produced fruit for the kingdom of Heaven. But the slaves of the enemy have not allowed this tree to stand and grow, for this green tree was in the way so that the enemy could not drag dry trees according to his desire. A green tree will truly not burn in the fire, but this green tree was in the way so that the enemy could not drag dry trees according to his desire. For that reason he had his slaves chop down this green tree so that he could drag dry trees for firewood according to his desire. Therefore the Saviour said to those women who pitied Him, "If they do these things in a green tree, what shall be done in the dry?"
Tryly this green tree was a great obstacle when the enemy was hauling dry trees and dragging them into the fire. The Saviour Himself was the green tree which was in the way of the enemy. And as long as this green tree was in the way, so long the enemy could not drag dry trees into the fire according to his desire. For that reason he had his henchmen chop this green tree, so the way would be opened better and he could haul the dry trees according to his desire. And it sounds clearly from the Saviour's words that God did not chop down this green tree, but surely the slaves of the devil have done it, when He says, "If they do these things in a green tree," namely, the slaves of the enemy do so; they chop down that green tree, although it is forbidden in the law that green trees are not allowed to be cut down in order to be burned in a tar pit. But what do the enemy's slaves care about that; they chop down the green trees although there are stumps and resinous wood for tar in the woods, which burn well in the tar pit. Do you not believe that this green tree will be chopped for the reason that it was in the way when the old man, the devil, had to drag dry trees? When, namely, the devil "walks through dry places, seeking rest and finding none," then it becomes lonesome for him, especially for the reason that he is driven out from his abode, for which reason he sometimes spends the night in the woods. And all do not take him into their abodes any more, for some have noticed during these times that he is a fellow traveler to the poor, especially in that abode where he has been before. If they would take him again into their abode, as many already have done, then he will eat them out of house and home; therefore, some have begun to be careful that the devil could no more get into their abode. Therefore the devil, while traveling the dry places, sometimes spends nights in the woods, and there he needs firewood from which he makes a big bonfire. But when this green tree was in the way, the devil became angry with that green tree and had his henchmen chop down this green tree, so it would no longer be in the way. And so the devil has done in all times. He has always commanded his henchmen to chop down some green trees which are in the way, so he could then haul dry trees according to his desire. He could certainly haul those dry trees which are around this church, of which there is no hope that they will become fruitful. But that green tree, which would have yet borne much fruit for the kingdom of Heaven if it could have stood and grown for a longer time, it was now in the way, and therefore the devil had his henchmen chop it down, that the road to hell would be opened better and that the old man, the devil, without hindrance, could haul the dry trees into the fire. That the daughters of Jerusalem cried and lamented over, but Jesus forbade them to cry over Him, and told them to weep over themselves and their children, "For if they do these things in a green tree, what shall be done in the dry?"
Surely we can lament that the enemy always wants to chop down these green trees, not because they are suitable to him for firewood, but because every green tree, when it bears good fruit, is in the way, so that the enemy can not haul those dry trees according to his desire. Jesus was that green tree who bore fruit for the kingdom of Heaven. On that tree there were not only leaves and flowers, but also fruitful branches which had been grafted into that true Vine. When now the slaves of the enemy chop down this green tree, which should have yet stood and borne fruit for the kingdom of Heaven, then many would think that the branches also would dry up and become unfruitful. Such a faith the devil's slaves had, that when the green tree was chopped down, the branches too would dry up. But the enemy figured wrong in this place, for the fruitful branches of this tree just then began to bear fruit when the tree had fallen to the ground. And it has also elsewhere sometimes been seen, that the branches of a green tree budded and brought forth leaves, although the tree had fallen. This is just contrary to nature, and man's intellect cannot comprehend it, how the branches can bud and bear leaves although the tree itself has fallen. This wonder cannot happen with a cursed tree which dries although it is not cut down. But the branches of this blessed tree become fruitful although the tree itself is cut down, for they have been grafted into the true Grape Vine and draw moisture fron it. This tree is so heavy that the devil is not able to haul it, although he has had his henchmen chop it down. But take heed now, you weeping and lamenting women, what will happen in the dry trees when the slaves of the enemy do thus with the green tree. Take heed, you weeping and lamenting women, what a terrible heat will prevail in hell when all the dry trees will be cut down and cast into the fire. If there is spirit of growth in the green tree which effects the growth of good fruit in it, for which reason the green tree will not burn in the fire, what then will happen in the dry tree, which is ready to kindle into fire from one spark which flies from that great fire which the devil has kindled. Take heed what a terrible heat is in that large furnace, into which the prince of the world, Nebuchadnezzar, has put so much wood that the soldiers who had to cast in the servants of the living God, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, those soldiers died of the heat. But the servants of the living God did not burn in that great furnace, for the fire had no effect on them. Take heed, you weeping and lamenting women, what happens in the dry tree when the slaves of the enemy have not even spared the green tree. And when we today behold what is done to the green tree which the slaves of the enemy chop in their wrath, although it should have stood yet awhile an borne fruit for the kingdom of Heaven, so let us always remember that that green tree has borne fruit in that great vineyard. He has borne such fruit from which all the laborers in the vineyard receive refreshment in their thirst. May this green tree, which is that true Vine from which all the dry branches are pruned off and all the fruitful branches are purged, that they would bear more abundant fruit. May the green tree, that true Vine, from which all the fruitful branches draw sap, allow that those few souls who today, with sorrowful and bleeding hearts follow that crucified and thorn-crowned King to the hill of Golgotha, could soon see His brightness in Heaven. Hear, Thou thorn-crowned King, the prayer of the penitent robber, our Father, etc.
The Gospel: Luke 23: 32-43
If some soul would desire to follow the bloody footsteps of Jesus to the hill of Golgotha and behold His bloody wounds, then may he take the cross upon himself and carry it after Jesus. We have seen the dreadfulness of the world, how it bursts forth in words. We have seen the tears of the women who cried and lamented when such a teacher, who had fed their hearts with the living word, was taken away because of the hatred of the world. Jews were seen who, because of spiritual hatred, thirsted for the blood of Christ. A governor was seen who, because of honor of the world and the hardened people, condemned a righteous man to death contrary to his conscience. Soldiers were seen who crucified the Lord of Glory and gave Him vinegar mixed with gall. But let us speak, at this time, only of the Saviour's suffering and death, for the upbuilding of those souls who have not yet reached the foot of the cross, when we through God's grace behold the bloody wounds of Jesus. First: Who has made these wounds? Second: What do these wounds effect? The Heavenly Parent has received death wounds because of the ungodly and hardened ones. He now opens His breast and shows His wounds to the hardened ones and says, "Behold these wounds, you hardened spirits! Because of the hardened ones I have received them." Can not these wounds move the hearts of the hardened ones? But some spit into the Parent's face and say, "Have you received these wounds because of us? No doubt you have hurt yourself." The hardened children say thus, when the Parent shows them His wounds. But the disciples of Jesus become very sorrowful from beholding those wounds. If now all the people, who have come to behold the Crucified One, would smite their breasts and would go home sorrowful!
The first consideration: Who has inflicted these bloody wounds on the Parent? In the history of Christ's suffering it is written that the high priests, scribes, and elders of the people had gathered together and taken council how they could, through guile, take ahold of Jesus and kill Him. Therefore they had a deadly hatred in their hearts toward Jesus. But those wretches did not know that the devil had aroused and kindled this spiritual hatred, but they thought that Jesus was a disturber of the people and a blasphemer of God whom they must, by all means, destroy. Thus the devil had reversed their eyes, that they had to believe that Jesus of Nazareth was a Samaritan and that He had a devil. But how can the devil so reverse the eyas of the best men, that the Son of God changes into a devil in their eyes? Take heed now how the enemy is able to reverse the eyes of the people. Are such people living now whose eyes the devil has reversed? All hardened ones think that the devil cannot reverse their eyes so that they would begin to hate Jesus and His disciples. But the same spiritual hatred, the same thirst for the blood of Christians, is even now in the hearts of the sorrowless. The same spirit of blasphemy and the same cry of murder, "Crucify!", is heard even now in every place where the Spirit of Christ effects living Christianity. For the bloody form of the Heavenly Parent does not effect sorrow or pity in them, but it effects more hardening. When the sorrowless people come to the place of the skull, they wag their heads and mock the Crucified and say, "Let Him step down from the cross and we will believe upon Him." Who now has crucified the Saviour? Who are the murderers of the Heavenly Parent? The Jews, no doubt, who had hatred in their hearts. But I think that the same Jews are still living. Drunkards, whiskey merchants, whores, thieves, cursers aind fighters are even now those who cry, "Take Him away, crucify Him!" They have a spiritual hatred in their hearts, they have a murderous mind, and hell fire burns in their hardened hearts. But those wretches do not know it, for the devil has reversed their eyes. As the former Jews looked at the Son of God as a blasphemer of God, so these Jews look at the Christians as blasphemers of God. The former Jews looked at the Son of God as a disturber of the people, so these Jews look at the Christians as disturbers of the people. The former Jews mocked the Son of God saying, "You are a Samaritan and you have a devil," so these Jews mock the disciples of Jesus saying. "You are worse than the enemy when you do not allow me peace of conscience." The former Jews tempted Jesus with one whore which they brought before Him. So also do the Jews of this time; through whores they want to get the Christians into a snare.
What now has the beholding of the Heavenly Parent's wounds effected in those who have come to the place of the skull to see that Crucified One? Has the beholding of these wounds effected sorrow, pity, and compassion in the hearts of the Jews? Are the Jews now in penitence? Pilate thought that the pathetic form of Jesus should move the Jews' hard hearts to compassion, when he brought Jesus out and said to them, "Behold the man!" But the heart of man is worse that the heart of a wolf, when the fire of hell has been kindled. The Jews certainly saw that great Crucified and thorn-crowned King in bloody wounds, and the blood dripped from His holy body and forehead. But no mercy was felt in the hearts of the Jews; instead they cried with a loud voice, "Take Him away! Crucify Him!" Are the Jews of this time more compassionate? Would they begin to pity a Christian who would have to suffer hunger and nakedness because of Christianity? I think that they would say as the former Jews, "Others he has helped, but himself he cannot help." The gospel says that there were some secret disciples of Jesus who had not consented to what the Jews did and advised, in whose midst must be Joseph and Nicodemus. Why did these men not come to the governor before Jesus had died? Why were they mute when their word would have effected so much that the governor would not have dared to judge wrongly? If these men would have spoken before, when Jesus was living, who knows what it would have affected. But the honor of the world and fear of the people was probably so great in these men that they, without saying a word, allowed the governor to condemn one righteous man to death. Where now was the love of Joseph and Nicodemus toward Jesus? Honor of the world and fear of the people probably put an end to all love. Perhaps they hear how the serpent's poison drips from the mouths of the Jews, then these meek men will speak nothing of Jesus' innocence. They do nothing more than listen and sit mute. Here are many Nicodemuses who have sat deaf and mute when the Jews spewed out all their hatred upon the Christians. And, nevertheless, those men are of that faith that they will become saved through the death of Jesus, when they have buried His body. It is not stated in the gospel that beholding the wounds of Jesus would have effected sorrow in the hearts of Joseph and Nicodemus. And therefore Jesus is forsaken of all. There was no one who would speak to the world some word of His innocence. Finally He had to cry out with a loud voice, "My God, why hast Thou forsaken me!" Behold now, hardened spirits, what you have done to the Heavenly Parent. First you have lied about Him that He is a disturber of the people and a blasphemer of God. You have cried, "Crucify!" You have mocked Him and called Him a Samaritan. Now you see Him in pitiful distress. You hear Kim crying out and lamenting that God has forsaken Him. But you are still able to mock the tears of the Heavenly Parent with your ungodly life: drinking, cursing, finery and blaspheming, greed, hatred and anger. Spiritual hatred is burning in your heart. Hell fire has been kindled in your own breast, although you do not know it; but when death begins to squeeze your hardened hearts, then your eyes will open, then they can see whom they have pierced. But then penitence is probably too late, when you have not beheld the wounds of the Parent with a sorrowful and penitent heart before. Behold now, murderers of the Parent! Behold now, mockers of the tears of the Parent! Behold what your hatred has effected.
The second consideration: What the beholding of the wounds of the Heavenly Parent has effected. Nothing in the hardened hearts but a desire to mock. So we hear in the history of Christ's suffering that the crowd of the enemy received very great power to mock when they saw that Jesus was forsaken of God and man. They had mocked Him before, but not so openly, when He was teaching in the temple. But now when He was taken ahold of, then the power of the enemy was let loose. All the blood hounds pounced upon Him. The sword went through His soul, so that the thoughts of many hearts would be revealed. Are not the same examples now before us? If some Christian is oppressed by the world, then all the secret thoughts become known. There are not many anymore who would speak in his behalf, who would consider it wicked that a Christian would have to suffer. There are not many who are bold to speak the truth to the hardened ones, so little has the beholding of the wounds of the Parent effected. There are no others who pitied Him than some women and some sorrowful disciples, who beheld those, wounds with a sorrowful and broken heart. Woe, woe, hardened world, how you have sunk into deep corruption, when you can behold those wounds of the Saviour without being moved, without deploring your own misfortune. No more terrible sin has been committed than the slaying of the Heavenly Parent, of which all are partakers, both great and small. However, there are not many who now stand at the cross and behold this deed of murder with horror. There are no others who deplore their misfortune, than some sorrowful women and disciples who are now considered fools by the world. In them, beholding the wounds of Jesus has effected a sorrow which they cannot hide. And the world despises them so greatly that they are considered insane, and if they would speak some word to the world of Christ's innocence and of the need for penitence, then they can immediately hear that they have spoken against Moses, and soon will be taken before the worldly court. Now drunkards are held to be wise, Jesus' sorrowful disciples are considered fools; whiskey merchants are honorable in the world, Jesus' sorrowful disciples are reviled and despised. Whores are kept in honor, but Mary Magdalene does not dare to open her mouth.
What now do the wounds of the Heavenly Parent effect? Nothing in the hardened hearts, nothing at all. When they have mocked and laughed for a time, they go to have a good time with liquor and drinking, with whoring, cursing, and slandering. But the sorrowful disciples of Jesus do not dare to be in such a crowd. They must hide their tears. How distressful is this beholding of the wounds of Jesus to those sorrowful souls, despised by the world, who do not dare to open their mouths amidst such a crowd. Woe, woe unto you! you sorrowful Mary Magdalene, how your tears are despised and mocked when you behold with a bleeding heart those wounds, which Jesus has received because of His love toward the poor congregation, when He gave His soul for redemption, gave His body to the soldiers, that your soul would be saved from perdition. How it went like a sword through your soul, you Mary, Mother of Jesus, when you saw the Son of God upon the cross in great tribulation and heard Him cry, "My God, why hast Thou forsaken me!" And you John, who, leaning your head on the breast of Jesus, have laid on His bosom in the Lord's supper, what do you now feel in your heart when you see the Son of God in the death struggle, you sec the soldiers piercing a sword into His side? I think that this beholding of Jesus' wounds effects such a sorrow in the hearts of the disciples, which surely brings doubts with it, but also tears their hearts loose from the world and prepares their hearts to receive the power of the Holy Spirit. Stay together now, you few disciples of Jesus! Weep and lament when Jesus dies! It is necessary for you, that you would once come to know how you have thanked Him for His good works. Love of the world had seized the disciplesí hearts, therefore Jesus died, and they remained longing and sorrowing when He had died. But remember nevertheless, you sorrowful souls, that Jesus has not died eternally. If you will only be able to cry so long that God will hear your sighs and awaken that great Crossbearer and thorn-crowned King, then you can with joy and rejoicing feel His gracious presence, then the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, will come, which will remind you of all that He has said formerly. Amen.