By Gary Piper
“Long ago God spoke many times and in many ways to our ancestors through the prophets. And now in these final days, he has spoken to us through his Son. God promised everything to the Son as an inheritance, and through the Son he created the universe.” (Hebrews 1:1–2, NLT) This morning (March 6, 2015) God proved to me Jesus is still speaking today through the Holy Spirit. There was no booming voice echoing across the sky. The ceiling in my living room did not separate revealing Jesus sitting next to God in heaven. No lightning flashed, no thunder rolled. There was just a quiet whisper of the truthfulness of seven words from Creighton University’s Lenten Pray webpage, “You made the cross the tree of life.”
“The Lord God placed the man in the Garden of Eden to tend and watch over it. But the Lord God warned him, “You may freely eat the fruit of every tree in the garden—except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If you eat its fruit, you are sure to die.”… “Then the Lord God said, “Look, the human beings have become like us, knowing both good and evil. What if they reach out, take fruit from the tree of life, and eat it? Then they will live forever!” (Genesis 2:15–17, 3:22, NLT)
Since just a kid I’ve known the tree of the knowledge of good and evil as the Tree of Life standing in the middle of the Garden of Eden. One illustration of what the tree may have looked like is an apple tree with nice round big red juicy apples hanging from its branches. I’ve never really stopped to think about what the tree actually looked like after all there were only two people who really saw the tree and after they bit into one of those big round red beauties the garden was locked up tighter than Fort Knox.
Although I am not sure the Tree of Life actually was an apple tree Adam and Eve saw or not. But I do know what the Tree of Life in the middle of our lives looks like the apostle Paul explains. “But Christ has rescued us from the curse pronounced by the law. When he was hung on the cross, he took upon himself the curse for our wrongdoing. For it is written in the Scriptures, “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.”” (Galatians 3:13, NLT)
“What if they reach out, take fruit from the tree of life, and eat it? Then they will live forever!” That’s right the Tree of Life is the cross and the “Fruit” that gives us life that lasts forever is Jesus! “For I have come down from heaven to do the will of God who sent me, not to do my own will. And this is the will of God, that I should not lose even one of all those he has given me, but that I should raise them up at the last day. For it is my Father’s will that all who see his Son and believe in him should have eternal life. I will raise them up at the last day.”” (John 6:38–40, NLT)
At first I found myself wondering why the LORD thought I needed another image of what Jesus and the cross means after all the bible is so clear in so many places when it comes to Jesus, the cross, and salvation that it takes little effort to believe and accept Jesus’ sacrifice. But spending a few hours thinking and praying about it a plausible reason began to immerge from the many thoughts filling my mind. In addition to an added testimony to the validity of the bible (something I really didn’t think I really needed) perhaps what impacted me the most the fact that God through the Holy Spirit communicated to me. Which brings me back to the verse you read earlier from Hebrews.
“Long ago God spoke many times and in many ways to our ancestors through the prophets. And now in these final days, he has spoken to us through his Son. God promised everything to the Son as an inheritance, and through the Son he created the universe.” (Hebrews 1:1–2, NLT)
One of the most important things God has said not just for the times of the Peter, James, and John but for all times (including YOU time) went like this, “Then a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my dearly loved Son. Listen to him.”” (Mark 9:7, NLT)
These four statements of Jesus I will always cherish deep in my heart. Please excuse me for quoting them as one but when I put them together they are for me “spiritual fruit” for life that comes from the Tree of Life.
“…Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light… And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you… The Spirit alone gives eternal life. Human effort accomplishes nothing. And the very words I have spoken to you are spirit and life… I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” (Matthew 11:28–30, John 14:16–17, John 6:63, John 16:33, NLT)
Celebrate Jesus! Worship God! Celebrate Life!
Anticipate! Experience! Believe! Be transformed!
Grace and PEACE, Amen!
Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13 LEB)
“Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.”