“I love to see some of the gnarled old trees; cedars and bristle-cone pines are favorites of mine, for so often they live where it doesn't seem possible to live. They grow right out of rocks, gnarled and twisted and old . . . but strong, stronger than anything but time, and they are part of time.”
--Louis L'Amour (Under the Sweetwater Rim)
"He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper."
--Psalm 1:3 (NKJV)
The story of two trees...
The first tree was in a lush environment surrounded by varied forms of shrubs, trees, and grasses, all fine to look at and admire. However, to walk in this wondrous garden that was teeming with beauty, eyes would constantly go to the trees in the middle of the garden. Of all the trees there was one that invited closer examination. The foliage of this tree was full and of vibrant green. It may have had beautiful and fragrant blooms similar to a magnolia tree, but it also carried the most delicious and tantalizing fruit.
The fruit of one tree, the one called the tree of knowledge of good and evil, seemed to not only offer a delectable flavor, but it seemed that there was something there that offered something to the soul as well. The longer and more often a person looked, the more it seemed to draw them, until one day--that fateful day when Adam and Eve ate of the forbidden fruit. God has said, "And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, 'Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die." (Genesis 2:16-17, NKJV) Man ate--the earth was cursed as was man. Part of the curse was death. To look upon this tree there seemed to be the promise of a tasty fruit, but to eat of it brought the curse of death.
The second tree is quite different. Whereas the first tree ended with a curse, the second tree begins with one. “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree” (Galatians 3:23, Deuteronomy 21:22-23). A body could not be left overnight if a tree was used as an instrument of execution. This leads to us looking at the second tree more closely. The environment in which it was found was a rugged, rocky area. This tree was rough and therefore full of splinters. It was not a pleasant sight to look at. It was a means of torture and ultimately death. "And He, bearing His cross, went out to a place called the Place of the Skull, which is called in Hebrew, Golgotha" (John 19:17, NKJV).
This second tree was unseemly. It was rough and it represented death. It did not look luscious like the tree in the Garden, but to look at this tree--this cross--would bring terror and cause the soul to shudder at its viciousness. This tree, and instrument of death, was meant to take lives, but instead when the Son of God was crucified it removed the curse of the first tree. Amazing, isn't it? Luscious equaled death--death meant the curse was removed and now eternal life could be offered to all men.
Which tree do you find yourself longing for? Which tree gathers your attention? Which tree do you gaze at? One offered life but brought death. The other upon which Jesus was crucified offered death but brought life.
"Oh, that old rugged cross so despised by the world,
Has a wondrous attraction for me;
For the dear Lamb of God left His glory above,
To bear it to dark Calvary.
In the old rugged cross, stained with blood so divine,
A wondrous beauty I see;
For 'twas on that old cross Jesus suffered and died,
To pardon and sanctify me."