Back in December there was a tree standing in our living room. Freshly chopped down from a nearby forrest, it was watered, decorated, and sparkled bright with strung lights and Christmas cheer. But with the coming of January and the end of the holidays the tree that had once proclaimed festive hope was stripped of its tinsel and ornaments and thrown outside. And there it sat. Dozens of winter storms buried it in snow. The color began to fade, needles dropped off, branches became brittle. The tree slowly died out there by the shed, unnoticed by all, save passing deers who nibbled at what was left of the once vibrant tree.
As winter began to fade into spring and the season of Lent grew heavy in anticipation, I revisited that dead tree. With hacksaw in hand I knelt beside it, slowly removing each branch from the trunk of the tree. The symbol that stood for the hope of Christmas a few months ago was becoming a new symbol. With twine I wrapped two parts of the trunk together. The tree had become a cross.
Glory beaten to death. Light squelched. Noble trees hacked into gnarled crosses. That’s the story of Good Friday. All that we celebrated in December, all that we rejoiced for, the presents exchanged and the decorations put up, they were all there to prepare us for now. That little baby asleep on the hay was growing up for what He would do today. Born to die. Living for death. That was the path of our Messiah.
Those wooden beams cut from a tree were thrown at Christ. He shouldered their weight and stumbled up the hill to His place of death. The carols that had been sung with glowing hearts had become mockeries chanted by coldhearted opponents. Step by step He took that tree to Calvary. Blow by blow nails were driven deeper into those outstretched hands: attaching Christ to the tree.
He died there on that tree. The celebration had become a funeral. Hope had turned to despair. Stars that shone bright to announce His birth had been covered to observe His death. No longer was the sky reverberating with the sounds angels singing, and instead the earth was shaking in anguish at the killing of its maker. The tree had become the cross.
Christ redeemed us from that self-defeating, cursed life by absorbing it completely into himself. Do you remember the Scripture that says, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”? That is what happened when Jesus was nailed to the cross: He became a curse, and at the same time dissolved the curse. And now, because of that, the air is cleared and we can see that Abraham’s blessing is present and available for non-Jews, too. We are all able to receive God’s life, his Spirit, in and with us by believing—just the way Abraham received it.-Galatians 3:13-14