We have a peach tree that just won’t die! A number of years ago Christy and I planted a peach tree in our back yard. It grew well for a couple of years and then one summer it started to lose its leaves and dried up. I waited until spring to see if there was any life left in it, and when it truly still looked dead I cut it down. That summer a shoot started growing out of the roots and eventually grew into a tree. It had peaches, but they were different than the ones on the original tree as it had grown from beneath the graft. We harvested peaches off that tree for several years, but last year the tree split in two and ended up resting on the fence. I left it until we could get what fruit there was on it and then cut it down. There is once again a new little tree rowing out of the stump.
I thought of that tree today as I was reading a little book by James M. Hamilton Jr. entitled “What is Biblical Theology?” In a section speaking about imagery in the Bible, the author spoke of the biblical image of a tree. He deals with it briefly – just a couple of pages. I have been fascinated with the trees in the Garden of Eden at the beginning of the human race, and those trees that are in the New Jerusalem at the end of time. The entrance to that new heaven and earth is possible because Christ died on a tree. Those are some things to mull over, but that is beyond the scope of what is covered in that small book.
What Dr. Hamilton deals with primarily is the powerful image found in Isaiah. It starts as a bit of a mixed metaphor as Israel is seen as a vineyard that God plants in chapter five. As Israel rejects God, He sends Isaiah in chapter six to preach until their hearts are hard and then, picturing them like a tree He uses the Assyrians as an axe to chop down that tree and burns it. There is, however, a shoot from the stump of Jesse that grows and bears fruit. That is Jesus, our savior, who comes from the “root of Jesse” and who grows and bears fruit. His leaf will not wither nor will His fruit fail. It is through death and new life that he makes our salvation possible. If we trust in him we can also be like that tree that is planted by water (Psalm 1).
I really should cut that peach tree down and plant a new one. Its fruit is not all that great. But for today, I think I will just go out to the back yard and take a picture of that which pictures Christ: life out of death. I am so glad that by trusting Him I have died with Him and now have new life! In this Easter season as you see new life springing up all over, take a moment to reflect on the reality of the new life that is possible through the resurrected Christ. If you have not experienced that life, ask God for it. If you have come from life to death in Him, praise Him for it!