Out of all the emblems we could’ve chosen …why did we choose a tree?
Is it because trees come from seeds and soil? Who would’ve come up with that system??? Take these nearly invisible specks called seeds, sow them into a seemingly insignificant substance called soil, and the next next next next next next next next next thing you know – you’ve got a tree!
But what good is a tree? …What perks proceed from a tree?
Well, for starters – there’s this colorless, odorless, gas in the air all around us called carbon dioxide, which is really no big deal as far as we are concerned except for the fact that it is harmful to human beings. If only there were something else all around us that could offset this detrimental dioxide. Wait a tick …TREES!, maybe they could help us out a bit!? It just so happens that trees actually have quite the appetite for carbon dioxide, and while they are busy gobbling up the CO2 we are subsequently liberated from the encumbrance of this invisible gas! But now you will say, “Is that it? Don’t those bum lazy trees do anything besides eat all day!?” First of all, I wonder what is making you so rancorous? Why are you peeved at the trees? …is everything alright at home? …are things stressing you out at work? Let’s grab a beer and talk about your woes my friend, you clearly need to get something off your chest. Secondly, in answer to your question – in addition to saving us from CO2 poisoning, the trees also magnanimously supply us with bountiful emissions of oxygen! I’ve never met a single person in all my days who wasn’t pro-oxygen!!! In short, trees absorb something harmful, and provide something helpful (sounds like a guy I know). But that’s not the primary reason we chose a tree for our trademark.
Who doesn’t like treehouses? Who doesn’t like hardwood floors? When have you ever heard someone complaining about shade on a hot day? Where’s the nincompoop who disdains tire swings? What would the world be without paper? How would you enjoy banana smoothies without the trees produce’n dem delicious bananas? Besides breathing …there are all sorts of ways we rely upon, and revel in the reality of, trees! But that’s not the primary reason we selected the tree as our insignia.
When God created man and placed him in the garden He said, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 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” (Gen. 2:16-17). Much like Peter’s enthusiastic declaration of devotion to the LORD of lords (see Luke 22:33), one can imagine our first parents ardently agreeing to uphold this crucial commandment, which fundamentally holds any and all lies of self-sufficiency at bay. However, in the very next moment (or at least it seems about that sudden) Adam and Eve are partaking of the one tree out of all the trees in the garden that they are absolutely, and at all cost, to avoid ingesting. From this moment, and for the rest of their lives, our first parents would see trees in a way reminiscent of the way Peter saw roosters [see Lk. 22:34] …as a constant reminder of the tragic transgression …as an aide-mémoire of the devastating denial.
If redemption was dependent upon our “accomplishments” then all hope is lost, and the only “sensible” thing to do is diligently deny the reality of our sin, and incessantly attempt to cover up and hide our flaws and failures.
But this reminder of our transgression is NOT our resting place – the LORD plainly insists that we seriously see our sin, and reckon with the reality of The Fall; but His will is NOT that we wallow in our own shame and self-loathing.
God’s will is that we SEE His work of absorbing the wrath we deserved, and His comprehensive atonement for our transgressions. His will is that we would SAVOR the news that though the tree was corrupted by our sin and contrived into an instrument of crucifying our Creator (Acts 5:30), God has taken the curse upon Himself and converted it into the essential emblem of salvation!”
He who could write himself down ‘chief of sinners’ (1 Tim. 1.15) had a deep sense of his own guilt and corruption. But then he had a still deeper sense of the length and breadth of Christ’s righteousness imputed to him. He who could cry ‘O wretched man that I am’ (Rom. 7.24) had a clear view of the fountain of evil within his heart. But then he had a still clearer view of that other fountain which can remove ‘all sin and uncleanness.’ He who thought himself ‘less than the least of all saints’ (Eph. 3.8) had a lively and abiding feeling of his own weakness. But he had a still livelier feeling that Christ’s promise, ‘My sheep shall never perish’ (John 10.28), could not be broken.” – JC Ryle
Fruit comes via repentance, and our boasting is in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. The tree reminds us that we are not to be trusted; it reminds us of our devastating decision to reject the only true and living God …it puts us in our place; it humbles us, and bids us to REPENT. But even more so – it reminds us of the marvelous redemption that is found in a God who harnesses the very curse of the cross in order to save the very sinners who hung Him there!