18th April 2019

Two Trees, Three Crosses

“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
John 8:12 (NIV)

When Christians think about the first prophecy in the Bible announcing Jesus’ work of salvation on the cross, they are often drawn to Genesis 3:15: “he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” This is seen as a reference to the crucifixion where Satan struck Jesus’ heel by having him crucified, but Jesus crushed Satan’s head, as it was his ultimate defeat (Colossians 2:15).

But I would suggest that the two trees mentioned in Genesis 3 are an earlier type and prophecy of the cross. Satan tempted Adam and Eve by offering them a counterfeit of something they already had. If you take to yourself the right to determine good and evil you will be like God, he said, yet they had already been made in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:26-27). In choosing to be independent of God, our first parents accepted the counterfeit and fractured their relationship with God.

Fast forward to the crucifixion scene. One thief looked upon Jesus and saw the good in him and, perhaps for the first time, saw the evil and wickedness in himself. At that moment the cross of Christ became the tree of the knowledge of good and evil for this brigand. When the man said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom” and Jesus replied, “today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:42-43), the cross became the tree of life for that man. Interestingly, the Greek word paradeisō can have the meaning ‘garden;’ Eden was being restored.

On the other side of Jesus was a man equally as guilty as this thief, but there is no repentance—rather he hurled insults at Christ (verse 39). The cross of Jesus had become a dividing line between the two thieves. One turned to Jesus for the knowledge of good and evil and received life through the grace of God; the other maintained his independence and remained in spiritual darkness.

The cross of Christ still stands before us today as the dividing line between light and darkness or life and death, and humanity is called to choose: the counterfeit of human independence, self-will, self-governance, and self-determination; or the authentic of looking to Christ for the knowledge of good and evil and to receive life. As Indiana Jones was told by the Grail knight, “choose wisely, for while the true Grail will bring you life, the false Grail will take it from you.”

Father, as we look to the cross of Jesus may we see the light and life he brings.

Study by Barry Robinson

About the Author:
Barry Robinson is an Elder and pastoral worker in the Greater London area, particularly the Camberwell and North London congregations of the Grace Communion International.

Local Congregation:
Grace Communion International Camberwell
The Salvation Army Hall
105 Lomond Grove

Meeting Time:
Saturday 11 am

Local Congregational Contact:
Barry Robinson
Email: camberwell@gracecom.church

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