Why the tree, God?
In the beginning, God created the world. It was perfect, nothing wrong with it. And then they ate that fruit from that tree of knowledge of good and evil and ruined everything. And now there is sin in the world. What a shame. If only they had resisted that temptation. But, what was the tree doing there in the first place? Have you ever wondered that? Have you ever asked, “Why the tree, God?”
You know God had a reason — a good one. After all, it was after he had created that tree of knowledge of good and evil and after he had given the command not to eat of it, that God’s infallible word says that he looked at everything he had made, and it was very good. So, why the tree?
Well, when God made us, when he made humankind, he didn’t just zap us into being, he formed man like a potter molds his clay; he built the woman like a skilled craftsman applies his specific design for a specific purpose. We’re not just random mutations of zapped muck. God formed each of us, as different as we may be, with one purpose — to worship him.
So why did God put the tree there in that first home for our first parents? It was an opportunity for us to fulfill our purpose — in a real way — not some manufactured, automated, zapped way. Think about that. How would Adam and Eve have been able to do anything for God, unless he asked them to do something, or not do it as the case may be? How else would they have shown him thanks and praise? That tree of knowledge of good and evil was their altar, their church. Every time they walked past it and thought, “I don’t want to eat of that because my awesome God asked me not to,” they were worshipping.
So why the tree? Because he loves us and wants to give us opportunities to worship. He didn’t want us to burst with appreciation — we needed an outlet. Of course, we don’t have access to that tree anymore — but he has given us opportunities to worship, hasn’t he? “Do not give up meeting together,” he tells us. “Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly,” he says. “Offer your bodies as living sacrifices.” “Bring the whole tithe into my storehouse,” he says. He’s given us all sorts of opportunities to worship him, and not just on Sunday mornings — but with our whole lives — putting him first in it all.
But, of course, he knew we’d fail, just like he knew Adam and Eve would fail. So, why the tree? Well, the full version of this sermon (available at www.abidinggrace.com) has all sorts of other reasons from the text, but really it all boils down to this. Why the tree? Because God loves us. And that shows itself never so clearly as on that second tree. You might call it the tree of life — no not the one in the Garden of Eden. The one on that hill, just outside Jerusalem, that wood positioned between those two criminals, where Christ gave his life for our life. Why the tree? So that our failures could be paid for by the blood of God’s own son. Why the tree? So that God’s love could shine through our darkness as he sacrificed everything to prove our worth in his eyes. Why the tree? As Paul says, “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” This is God’s word.
Pastor Jonathan Scharf Abiding Grace Lutheran Church
In John, chapter 6, we are told the story of Jesus performing the miracle of feeding 5,000 people with only five small barley loaves of bread and two small fish. After doing this, Jesus said: “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty” (John 6:35).
Bread has been a staple food and is referred to as the “staff of life.” What bread is to our bodies physically, Jesus is to us spiritually. Notice that: Jesus is the true bread. In John 6:32, He said: “I tell you the truth, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven (speaking of himself).”
Jesus is the living bread. In John 6:51, He said: “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”
Jesus is also the life-sustaining bread. In John 6:48-49, Jesus said: “I am the bread of life. Your forefathers ate the manna in the desert, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which a man may eat and not die.”
Jesus is the bread from heaven. He said he was the true bread from heaven (verse 32); that He had come down from heaven (verses 33, 50, 51, 58); and, as the bread of life, he had come down from heaven to do the will of the Father. (verse 38)
One of the elements of the Lord’s Supper is unleavened bread. Jesus is the bread of life, and the bread represents his flesh, his body, which was crucified for the sins of all humanity on the cross.
It is not enough to know “about” Jesus. We need to “know” Jesus personally, and partake of his fresh, living bread, by faith. Come to Christ and enjoy fresh bread that truly satisfies, not only here on earth, but eternally. The next time you have bread with a meal, remember Jesus who is the true bread of life, and be thankful.
The Rev. Wayne Rutherford LifePointe Church of the Naza-
Our heritage is very important in determining our future. Karl Marx once said that people without a heritage are easily led. He certainly talked a lot of people out of their heritage.
There was many years ago a sea captain from Italy who sailed the coast of Africa. Captain Stephen was walking on the beach and discovered a missionary who had been beaten. He discovered that the missionary was Italian and took him aboard his ship to try to help him. The missionary knew he was dying and asked to be brought on the deck. The captain, thinking that he would want to take one last look at the land that had been his, honored his request. The missionary pointed instead across the Atlanta toward America and said, “There is a land of people who need to be saved. Go and tell them about Jesus.” Captain Stephen passed this story to his son, and his son passed it his son, and his son passed it one to his son.
The boy whose very name means “Christ Bearer” did that very thing. This boy was Christopher Columbus. This story of Columbus is a good example of how important our heritage is.
Most of our church history books have been written by while men and so have failed to include the rich Christian heritage of black people.
When my people in England knew nothing of Jesus, we find Christianity alive and well in Northern Africa. In fact, some 600 years before Christianity was in England, we find the most extensive library on Christianity located in Alexandria, which was a center of Christian theology and church government. Saint Augustine was the Bishop of Hippo in Africa from 396-430 A.D. Saint Augustine was very active. His letters were powerful and went everywhere. He wrote some 230 letters.
Islam, the religion of the Arabian people, overran North Africa and must of the Christian heritage was lost to our world.
When we see the powerful black preachers of today, such as T.D. Jacks, Carlton Pearson and Myles Monroe, to name a few, we know this heritage is still alive. God has a plan and a purpose for each of our lives. He says, whosoever will may come. He didn’t leave any of us out. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whoever believes in him, should not perish but have everlasting life.”
We read in Galatians 3:26-29, “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”
What a rich heritage we can all have through God’s grace and our trusting in Jesus Christ as our lord and savior.
A life is a tenable thing to waste. Give your life to Jesus, find out what he wants you to do and do it. Dean Doyle West
Christian Life School of Theology