Thursday, April 14, 2011

But for a tree

When I was young I used to love going out to my grandparents house.  They had this large farm house on the highway with large hedges in the front that we would look on in amazement in the winter with the beauty of Christmas lights, and in the summer we would throw grasshoppers into the spider webs and watch as the poor insects were slowly cocooned by silk webbing and drained of their blood.  The yard was very large setting up on a field that encompassed 2 sides, and a cherry orchard on the the other.  I discovered quickly that there is nothing as sweet as the taste of a fresh picked cherry on a summer day, except maybe two, but we never stopped at less then five.

The only downfall of the cherry trees?  We weren't allowed to climb them.  This made for a difficult childhood of tree climbing as there were many grandchildren that wanted to be in the trees.  The answer to this was the one large tree that was on the side yard, just off from the cherry trees.  I am not sure what type of tree it was, but I remember large white blossoms at times.

This tree was twisted in various directions, so many limbs shooting off reaching out for just a little more sunlight and rain.  A swing that had long been neglected for the beckoning of the top branch, who could reach it first.  Many family photographs were taken in front of the tree, with many children in the tree, some with only legs showing, others hanging upside down.  That tree made summer at my grandparents the focal point of my childhood.

But for a tree I would remember only the other trees that we were not allowed to climb.

There is another tree that made wonderful memories in my life.  Maybe you've heard about it, maybe you have found yourself in the same place I have.  At the base, looking up in amazement to the only one who climbed the tree and conquered it.  Perhaps you have seen the look of guilt and anguish on others faces as they walk by, or even anger, pity, disdain and unbelief.  But I have found a place at the bottom of the tree and I have gazed up in wonder at the maker of the tree, who is also the one hanging on the tree.

I have come various times in various states.  Alone, confused, frustrated, lost, and I have wrapped my arms around the trunk pleading for one more chance to get it right.  I have cried on the tree, laughed near the tree, danced around the tree, and been embraced by the one who came down from the tree.

Jesus found his way to the top of the tree.  The horrible, t shaped, heavy, twisted, maniacal, shame filled, death proven, life giving, beautiful, unrelenting, grace and love anointed, glorious tree. 

He climbed that tree, though pain and sadness filled his body, he climbed with a purpose, and a sense of joy.  This tree will make a difference.  It wasn't his first encounter with a tree, he had cursed a tree once that was not bearing fruit.  This final tree would bear fruit, it would bear pain, humiliation, scorn, and death.  But it would also bear life, as the author of life rested upon it.

The joy of the cross is often missed, we see the bruised, beaten and bloodied savior on the tree, the cross and wonder why he would do such a thing.  To live a perfect life and then be strung up and destroyed.  But the joy in his heart as he hung there on a Friday, was the knowledge of the eternal value he was setting forth for any who would believe.  He paid it all as a lamb led to slaughter for the eternal value of our souls.

Jesus climbed that tree and while he was on the top he began to weep, perhaps in the same way he wept at Lazarus' tomb, maybe with a little more intention and passion, maybe with a fire in his eyes that no one saw because they were swelled shut.  But Jesus wept, and when he cried out 'it is finished' he conquered the tree, and no one else ever did.

But for a tree you and I have been made free.  
But for a tree the blood of Christ would not be seen.
But for a tree the wrath of God would be released.
But for a tree the love of God can now take seed.
But for that tree you have been saved.


  1. Wow, Larry, a wonderful Easter message and beautiful reminder. thanks for sharing


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