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Ash and Oil: Easter!

The resurrection is central to our faith! “If Jesus is not raised from the dead,” Paul says, “then our faith is futile.” In fact, he goes on to say, “We of all people are most to be pitied!” (1 Cor. 15:19)

But, how is it central? Historically, we understood Jesus was taking the punishment for our sins – the sins of humanity. Our transgressions and their consequences are placed upon Jesus as he hangs on the cross. In so doing, satisfaction for sin is provided, and God is appeased.

But is that the only way – in fact, is it the best way – to understand the transaction on the cross? While it has provided us with assurance of individual salvation, perhaps, extended to our families, it has done very little to focus us on the cross as redemption for all of creation.

This Resurrection Sunday, I find myself viewing the cross differently. My thoughts take me back to Genesis 1 and 2. There, in the centre of the garden, is the Tree of Life. It is this tree from which our first parents decline to eat, focusing instead on the fruit held out to them from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. It is the Tree of Life, however, that offered them the fullness of God's plan and purpose – eternity in fellowship with God and all of God’s creation.

We move forward to the end of the biblical narrative and once again find the Tree of Life, now divided, one on each side of the River of Life proceeding from the throne of God (Revelation 22). This time it produces 12 crops of fruit in season, its leaves are for the healing of the nations, and it appears that it is this fruit from which we consume life and realize God’s eternal gift.

But the third reference to the Tree of Life is key. In Galatians 3:13, Paul notes, “Christ redeemed us from the curse…by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: ‘Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.’“ Jesus transforms the consequence of the curse into the Tree of Life! In the beginning, there was the Tree of Life; at the ending, there is the Tree of Life. The circle is made complete by the third Tree of Life – the cross!

Pray: Creator and Sustainer of all help us to genuinely expand our human-centred understanding of the work accomplished on the Cross that will include all of creation – help us to consume the fruit of the Tree of Life.

Next Steps: Re-examine the ways in which your theology, while articulated with creation in mind, nonetheless causes you to live in the continued consumption of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, not the Tree of Life.

[Image: Flickr user Julie Falk]

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