A Tale of Two Trees

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. Galatians 2:20

There is a strange and inexplicable theological error that has plagued the church of Jesus Christ since its inception: A one-sided understanding of Jesus’ accomplishment on the cross.

A simple question illustrates the problem. How often have you heard the words “Jesus died for me/you/us”? Compare that with the amount of times that you have heard people saying “Jesus lives for me/you/us”. There is usually no comparison. Christians have an odd habit of celebrating the death of Christ and its implications, rather than the resurrection and life of Christ with its implications. We prefer to wear crosses around our necks, not empty tombs. And we ignore the fact that the cross once was a tree. It symbolises that which once was alive, whereas the empty tomb symbolises that which once was dead! Indeed, nothing illustrates the curse and wages of sin better than a dead tree, especially if it spreads its infection and causes others to die. This is why we read “cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree.” Christ became that curse, and through his resurrection he broke it. Our ancestors ate from the forbidden tree – the tree of death – and caused the other tree to become forbidden. Through Christ, however, we once again have access to the tree of life. Christ’s life was not only given. It was also received!

Perhaps our misunderstanding in this regard has to do with the fact that we appreciate the idea of forgiveness, but that we are reluctant to consider the idea of a changed life. Whatever the reason, the Bible is clear that the Christian life is a life lived by the risen Christ inside of us. And so the secret of Christianity is to be found in our union with Jesus Christ. Paul refers to this as a mystery that has been revealed in the words “Christ in you, the hope of glory.”

To try and live the Christian life by self-effort is the most futile exercise ever. The sinful flesh can conquer itself no more than Beelzebub can drive out Beelzebub. It is a simple impossibility. This is why God sent his beloved Son to the world. Not to only die in our place, but to live in our place. Christianity is more than someone paying for your sins. It is to experience the power of an exchanged life on a daily basis!


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