How God’s plan for man is rooted in trees
At the core of the gospel story of God’s love and Jesus’ sacrifice is a tree, writes Gordon Allan
Man’s relationship with trees has been varied and interesting. We have climbed them for fun, used them for protection and construction, and have created beautiful ornate pieces of furniture out of them. Trees are important, they are ‘the lungs of the world’ replacing CO2 with oxygen in the atmosphere, while others talk to them and hug them...
My Bible tells me that our story – ‘his’ story – also focuses on a tree (Genesis 2:9). Adam was told not to eat fruit from it and we live with the consequences of him rejecting God’s way to live.
Men have chosen (and failed) to navigate their way through the sin-scarred landscape of the world in general and their souls specifically. In a glimpse of hope, at the end of days Revelation 22:2 reveals a ‘tree of life’ in heaven, an emblem of a holy, horticultural healing of creation and a restored relationship between God and man that breaks sin’s curse.
At the core of the gospel story of God’s love and Jesus’ sacrifice is another tree. It is a tree of shame, guilt and death in a place of execution and exclusion. It was outside the city wall in Jerusalem, it was a cross, and it symbolised the curse of sin (Deuteronomy 21:22-23; Galatians 3:13).
Anyone crucified was considered to have fallen foul of the authorities and broken God’s covenant law to such an extent that an extreme punishment was required. Being beaten and nailed to a tree naked, slowly suffocating to an agonising death, was both man’s punishment and God’s judgment for sin, and ended in death outside of God’s covenant.
No middle ground
My children function in an educational system of regular assessments throughout the year. In my day results were declared by the teacher with each pupil mentally calculating where they ranked in the league table of swot or shame.
Many exams today are either ‘pass’ or ‘fail’. There is no middle ground to beg for that precious half-mark to claw your way up the class pecking order.
And so I invite you to meet me at the tree. As you stand
before ‘the tree’ of Jesus’ cross, come with the mess, stress, issues and sin of life. There is no middle ground. It is there that our lives’ report card displays an ‘F’ for fail or ‘S’ for sin. Certainly no one has a ‘P’ for pass. Our failures are constant, daily and far more ‘epic’ than most featured in epic YouTube ‘fail’ videos.
Adam’s sin affects everyone. We are born under its curse. Jesus is the second Adam (1 Corinthians 15:45) who breaks sin’s curse and restores all that Adam lost when he ate of the fruit of that tree.
To the Jews the curse of the cross was the ultimate example of why Jesus couldn’t be God’s Messiah. But in reality, only the Messiah could be our perfect sacrifice and sin-bearer.
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