Dear Friends, in the concluding part of our series titled “Centrality of the Cross”, today let’s focus on two “Trees” in human history…
Cause and Counter…
First things first! For the uninitiated, let me unravel the full meaning of the phrase, “turning the tables”…
The Oxford dictionary sums it up as reversing one’s position relative to someone else, especially by turning a position of disadvantage into one of advantage.
To illustrate… Loius Braille, who had been blinded by an awl whilst playing with it in his childhood, used that same instrument to create a “raised dotted system” of all the 26 alphabets by piercing holes suitably on the pieces of leather. Thus the blind could read using their sense of touch. Today, the Braille language is used universally so as to serve as virtually “a lamp in the darkness” for the blind.
In the spiritual realm too, Dear Friends, our Almighty wise God would use for a “counter strike” on the Enemy, the very objects or situations that initially were a “curse” in order for them to become a “blessing” later on!!!
If sin (along with it curse) came by the tree that was attractive to the First Adam and company (SeeGen. 3:6), then Salvation had to come through no other means other than a tree, which though repulsive to the final Adam (SeeLuke 22:42-44), would pave the way for reconciliation of the estranged relationship between Man and His Creator (See2 Cor. 5:17-21/2 Cor. 6:1-2). Let me repeat: The tree (read Cross) alone would be central to the Almighty’s redemptive plan.
While historically Crucifixion was invented by the Persians in 300-400BC and developed, during Roman times, into a punishment for the most serious of criminals like the Seditionists, David prophesied about the mode of death of the Saviour a good 1000 years before the first Good Friday: “…They have pierced my hands and feet.” (Psalm 22:16b NLT).
Let’s once again unravel the secrets behind the Saviour’s crucifixion and marvel at God’s sovereignty in ensuring the Saviour completed the redemption plan only on the tree (“When he was hung on the cross, he took upon himself the curse for our wrongdoing. For it is written in the Scriptures, ‘Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.'” Gal 3:13 NLT), and not at any other place or through any other means. Charged by the Sanhedrin as He was of blasphemy (SeeMatt 26:59-66), why then didn’t His enemies kill Him by stoning as per the law (SeeLeviticus 24:10-16,23/1 Kings 21:11-14) as they ostensibly killed Stephen, the first Christian martyr (SeeActs 7:54-60)? The Almighty God in His plan borne out of infinite wisdom (SeeRom 11:33-34) had pre-arranged everything in a way that the Saviour died an atoning death only on the tree. Let the Scripture take over at this stage…
“The Jews said to him, ‘It is not lawful for us to put anyone to death.’ This was to fulfill the word that Jesus had spoken to show by what kind of death he was going to die.” (John 18:28-32 ESV/ See alsoJohn 12:32-33).
How come Romans only are permitted to execute someone? What exactly happened was that in 28 AD, the Sanhedrin, under Roman pressure, divested itself of executing the death penalty (Source: Talmud Sanhedrin 41a; “Maimonides” Laws of Sanhedrin 14:13). In the case of Stephen’s stoning, the Sanhedrin had “clean” consciences, ascribing the stoning to “mob fury”. In all probability the Jewish legal body got away from the investigative Roman authorities too, ascribing Stephen’s stoning to an instance of public outrage. As Stephen was not-so-popular, the whole issue could be “brushed under the carpet”; but in the mind of the crafty Sanhedrin (about 4 years earlier), executing the popular Jesus haphazardly represented an act fraught with the risk of His followers rebelling against them (“When they tried to put their hands on Him, they were afraid of the many people. The people thought He was One Who spoke for God.” Matt. 21:46 NLV). However, as determined as they were to eliminate Him, they brought the Romans into the picture. Look at how the Sanhedrin changes “colours” in front of Pilate. Not one word is spoken about about the Jesus’ act of blasphemy at the beginning, for it would not cut much ice with Pilate as he would not be much interested in that accusation (SeeLuke 23:1-5/John 19:7-16). So they forcefully sing the “accusatory” song of sedition before Pilate. Now as sedition was the ground of accusation, it followed that crucifixion was the mode of execution of the death penalty that sedition entailed. One look at the chain of events brings to the fore our Heavenly Father’s sovereignty in ensuring the tree would be the central part to the Redemptive plan (SeeActs 3:18).
If love for God which can be exhibited only by implicit obedience to His commands (See2 John 1:6), and this love was conspicuous by its absence in the behaviour of the first Adam when exposed to the lure of Tree of Knowledge, then by stark contrast the final Adam (read Jesus…1 Cor 15:45) personified obedience by willfully hanging on the cruel tree (SeeGal 3:13) as per the Father’s will (SeeJohn 6:38/John 14:30-31). Further on the subject of “turning of the tables”, let’s factor in this truth as well. If Adam fell on account of a “tree” planted in the middle of his “world” (read Garden of Eden — SeeGen 2:9/3:1-3), then our Heavenly Father ensured that the final Adam completed the redemption plan using yet another tree that was “planted” for Him in the middle of the world of His times (Jerusalem was in the middle of the World in Biblical times –SeeEzekiel 5:5).
If the first Adam hid behind a tree to hide his shame, then the final Adam, to cover up our sin and shame, would be fastened to the front side of the tree, completely naked, to bear shame on our behalf (SeeHeb 12:1-2). Do not go by paintings which show the Crucified lot wearing loin cloth, but rathercheck history to accurately to know the exact truth about the Crucifixion ordeal.
If tree of knowledge sprouted spiritual ignorance then the so-called tree of foolishness (1 Cor 1:18) has been the source of enlightenment to many who came under its shade, as it were.
Finally Dear Friends, if I began my message with a Desi chant, then let me conclude it as well with a Desi one marveling at the person of Christ, who completed the mission of saving mankind on the Tree that was central to God’s redemption plan…
“Jab Suraj aur Chand bhi mit jayega, Yesu tu hamesha hamare paas prakash banke rahega”. In English, the gist would read likeRev. 21:23: The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. HALLELUJAH!
An unworthy servant
J and SM Ministries