From: T.M. Schoewe
Looking out our large bay window into the backyard—which normally looks like a garden full of God’s green glory with a wide array of flowering perennials—we saw this morning many squirrels scrambling around running up and down our trees, and birds visiting several feeder. Then suddenly we began to wonder about the giant black walnuts and a great hackberry, plus two large apple and numerous wild plum trees, along with a chokecherry and a dwarf apricot, all taking their winter rests. My mind ran around our country like those squirrels in our backyard. We thought of our Southland’s delightful magnolias and wide-spreading oak and the water loving cypress of the swamps. Then out west and up north we have the giant sequoia and the many different varieties of pine and spruce. And I can’t help mention the tree-like giant saguaros of the Southwest. Trees indeed are the work of God! So the poet claimed “Only God can make a tree!”
One wonders why man has had little regard for these works of God and why he so wantonly has destroyed them by the hundreds of thousands, thinking little about reforestation or replacement. Today we protect trees more than in past years and that is a good thing. But years ago we cut down acres for Army and Air Force bases. We cut cross ties for railroads, taking what we wanted and leaving the greater part to rot in the forest. We celebrate Christmas with trees, cutting millions and throwing thousands of them away each year. Yet we say TREES are beautiful!
Looking into the Scriptures, there is a tree that is spoken of as highly undesirable, one which came to mind as we looked out into our backyard, and one which we need to write about this morning. It is the ACCURSED TREE. It is not a naturally grown tree but a man-made tree. It is the tree of the CROSS!
The Bible connects this tree with a curse. If you will read Galatians 3:13 we learn “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us, for it is written: ‘Cursed is everyone that hangeth on a tree.’” Paul is referring to Deut. 21:23, “he that is hanged in accursed of God.” The Romans considered the crucified one accursed, and chose that very form of death penalty for Jesus for that very reason.
Jesus had such an accursed tree as His very own, on which He was nailed and raised high among men as a spectacle for all to witness. He had told Nicodemus “as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” Also read Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53. All this prophecy was fulfilled on that day when Jesus bore that wood from a tree and then was hung on it! That most terrible agency of torment and execution was also used to bring the grandest good into the world for all mankind. Now we can truthfully and joyfully sing, “In the Cross I glory towering over the wrecks of time, all the light of sacred story gathers round its head sublime.” And “For Him it pleased the Father that in Him should all fullness dwell and having made peace through the blood of the cross, by Him to reconcile all things unto to Himself.”
Please note that the accursed tree stood between sinners, one on the left and one on the right, and sinners down below them all around. Some think one of the malefactors was a Jew and the other one a Gentile, to represent the whole human race among which Christ hung for the reconciliation of God, the Father of us all.
So much for the accursed tree. It is now the cross which was, is, and always will be there for you and me because Christ our Lord hung there for us. So enjoy trees and let them remind you of the Cross.