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The Word on the Week

The Wrong Tree

Tears and anger were vented at the felling of the “holy hawthorn” of Glastonbury. Someone with a chainsaw stretched over the circular fence which surrounded it and severed the ancient tree leaving a six foot stump. Apparently the last time it was cut down was by Cromwell’s soldiers. They seemed to have done a better job as only the roots remained. These roots were allegedly planted in 1951 to product this tree and three others growing around the town. Of course the original tree is attributed to Joseph of Arimathea who brought the seed (along with the “Holy Grail” the chalice which Jesus used at the last Passover) to Somerset. Why he should have brought either to “England’s green and pleasant land” is a question that only a British Israelite could answer! The fence surrounding the tree is shown festooned with token rags reflecting the devotion of many to their belief in pantheism. Perhaps someone will tell the mourners that hawthorn has a habit of sprouting so they can look forward to a “resurrection” in due course! My question is, are they barking up the wrong tree? What does the Bible say about trees? There are three notable trees in Scripture. The first in Genesis is called the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The description of such knowledge encompasses the entire spectrum of moral experience. Nothing is omitted. This is why the tempter could accurately say that with this knowledge they would be like God. But the knowledge came with a promise – that of death – which in its immediate form was separation from the God who had made them. At the end of the Bible we read of another tree. The Apostle John is given the vision of death removed and healing completed. “The tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him.” Revelation chapter 22 verses 2/3. For this change to become possible the separation caused by sin had to be removed so that we could enter into that intimate relationship with our creator God for which we were made. The third tree is referred to by St Peter in his first letter when he calls the cross a tree. Indeed it was a wooden cross, a Roman gibbet, an instrument of execution. Referring to Jesus he writes, “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live for righteousness. By his wounds we are healed.” Chapter 2 verse 24. Christians are those who by faith have seen their sins laid on Jesus and recognise that his death brought that life to them which Adam forfeited in the garden of Eden. This healing comes, not when we trust in a tree, but in a living saviour.