Skip to content


Trees are very important in our lives. They are lovely to look at when they begin to leaf out in the spring, when they cover the hills in the summer, and when they display their splendor in the fall. They provide shade from the heat. They help to clean the air. Perhaps most importantly, they take in carbon dioxide and give off oxygen; we need both actions to happen or we will die. If the Brazilian rain forest were removed, we would be in dire straits.

However, there are more significant trees than these.

Centuries ago, our great-grandparents came face to face with a tree and made a decision that changed everything. It was the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, and their decision was to eat of its forbidden fruit. The change that took place centers on the words of the Creator: “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” (Genesis 2:16-17) It was not the tree itself that brought chaos and catastrophe to the world; rather, it was what man did with the tree. By rejecting the will of God and eating the fruit, our primogenitors (first parents) turned the world upside down. Thereafter, instead of life, there was death; and the shadow of death spread over everything. Instead of joy, there was sorrow. Instead of health, there was sickness. Instead of ease, there was hard labor. Instead of harmony, there was strife. Instead of righteousness, there was sin. Behold the first world-changing tree.

For 4000 years after this, believers lived in hope—a hope resting upon many promises. Then, 4,033 years after creation, a tree, fashioned into the shape of a cross, was raised up on Calvary. This tree was the site of a momentous change for the sin-dead world, a reversal of what happened with the first tree. It was there that the promises were fulfilled.

As with the first tree, it was not the tree on Calvary that brought a change for the world, but what God did with that tree. On Calvary, God’s Son “Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed.” (1 Peter 2:24) Wonder of wonders, on that second tree, Jesus brought healing to this sin-sick world! “It is finished,” said the voice from the center tree. Finished was the work of the Suffering Servant. Finished was the onslaught of the serpent of old. The curse of the first tree was laid upon the Man on the second tree. Thus, “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree’).” (Galatians 3:13)

Now, in the peace of redemption, we await a third tree. “To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.” (Revelation 2:7) Yes indeed! There is a Tree of Life, whose fruit will be for the everlasting delight of all who “die in the Lord.” We, who by faith have tasted the “fruit” of the second tree, will eat of the Tree of Life in Paradise.

Prayer: It is truly meet, right, and salutary, that we should at all times and in all places give thanks unto You, O Lord, holy Father, almighty, everlasting God. On the tree of the cross, You gave salvation unto mankind that, from where death arose, there Life also might rise again and that he who by a tree once overcame might likewise by a tree be overcome, through Christ, our Lord; through Whom with angels and archangels and with all the company of heaven we laud and magnify Your glorious name. Amen. (TLH, page 25)

John Pfeiffer

John Pfeiffer is retired from the pastoral and teaching ministry. He is a former president of Immanuel Lutheran College.