Wednesday, December 22, 2010
Trees have played an important role in our history, but have we considered the impact that the tree has made throughout Christianity?
A tree was the instrument of the first sin, man’s fall, original sin.
Genesis 3:3: It is only the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden that God said, “You shall not eat it or even touch it, lest you die.”
The Old Testament refers to trees at other times as well, including the fig tree symbolizing prosperity and health, olive trees were also thought to be a sign of richness. The mention of trees spills over to the New Testament as well.
Luke 2:7: “She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.”
The first place Jesus was placed was in a manger, a wooden structure.
Matt 13:54-54: He came to his native place and taught the people in their synagogue. They were astonished and said, “Where did this man get such wisdom and mighty deeds? Is he not the carpenter’s son?”
Jesus spent his growing up years learning the trade of carpentry. He would learn to carve, yield, and bend wood to his will. He learned how the different types of wood and their attributes such as knots, moisture, and growth tendencies. The wood yielded to Jesus, he mastered it.
He mastered it.
Acts 5:30: The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom you had put to death by hanging Him on a tree.
I’ve always wondered why crucifixion was the form of death that Jesus had to endure. Was it because it was the most humiliating form of death at that time or was there something else?
I don’t think anything is left to chance when God is involved. It was the tree that was the first instrument of sin, the death of mankind in original sin. It was a tree that became the final instrument of death and the first symbol of life since we are all redeemed through the cross.
But I don’t think it ends there. Since nature was involved with our first sin, God made sure the tree became the symbol of redemption as well. God renewed everything, including nature. He is the Master of all.
One of the things I contemplate on the most when thinking about the cross, is the position of Jesus’ arms. They were stretched out as wide as they could go. It reminds me of when a child stretches his arms out and says, “I love you this much.” I believe that’s exactly what Jesus was saying when he accepted the cross.
What I love even more is when I see a manger scene with baby Jesus holding his arms out. The infant welcomes us in the same manner. His birth as a human showed his willingness to redeem us and his forthcoming love as our Teacher, Counselor and Redeemer. He loved us that much.