The Cross Stands for Strength

May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. Galatians 6:14

It is said that in Japanese culture the tree stands for strength. 

Trees are mentioned in the Bible in various connections. The thought of strength and durability is suggested in Isaiah's reference to the believers as "oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD" (Isaiah 61:3). Fruit-bearing trees are symbols of spiritually productive Christians. In Psalm 1 a righteous person is compared to a tree that "yields its fruit in season" (Psalm 1:3). The individual cedars of Lebanon and other trees were used for Solomon's temple, symbolizing the individual believers who together constitute the holy Christian church, the communion of saints. In Jesus Christ, as Saint Paul writes to the Ephesians, "the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord" (Ephesians 2:21).

Trees give wood for both constructive and destructive purposes. The Romans used wood to make crosses for the execution of their victims. Yes, a tree somewhere in the Holy Land became the cross on which Jesus was sacrificed for the sin of the world. Saint Paul makes this clear: "Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: 'Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree'" (Galatians 3:13).

The tree on Mount Calvary takes us back to the Garden of Eden where the devil used a tree to tempt Adam and Eve into sin. It was altogether fitting and right that the devil be himself overcome by a tree--by the accursed tree of the cross. This tree is now for us the symbol of our salvation in Christ. Now there is again a tree of life in the heavenly paradise. "To him who overcomes," writes Saint John, Christ "will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God" (Revelation 2:7).

Yes, the tree of Christ's cross stands for strength in this life and for eternal life in the world to come.

PRAYER: Lord God, give me the strength and joy to always glory in the cross of Jesus Christ. Amen.