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Summary: THIS IS A GOOD FRIDAY MESSAGE ON THE NATURE OF SIN, THE PENALTY OF SIN, AND THE VICTORY OVER SIN, ALL SHOWN THROUGH THREE TREES MENTIONED IN SCRIPTURE.

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THE THREE TREES OF EASTER

MARK 15:33-39

LET ME BEGIN BY WELCOMING YOU TO OUR GOOD FRIDAY SERVICE. GOOD FRIDAY IS A VERY UNUSUAL DAY. IT’T TITLE IS ALMOST OXYMORONIC. WHAT IS SO GOOD ABOUT REMEMBERING THE BRUTAL DEATH OF JESUS CHRIST?

THE FEELING AROUND THIS HOLY DAY IS ALSO UNUSUAL. IT’S QUIET AND FILLED WITH SAD ANTICIPATION UNTIL ABOUT 3:00 P.M. WHEN WE FINALLY SAY “IT WAS FINISHED, JESUS IS DEAD.” PEOPLE WHO HAVE SAT IN HOSPITAL ROOMS ANTICIPATING THE DEATH OF A FRIEND OR LOVED ONE, RESIGNED TO THE FACT THAT DEATH WAS COMING AND COMING SOON, KNOW THIS FEELING WELL.

AS CHRISTIANS WE KNOW THAT THE TOMB IS EMPTY AND THAT JESUS IS ALIVE. TODAY THOUGH, WE EMPATHIZE WITH THOSE WHO TOOK JESUS’ BODY OFF THE CROSS, LOVINGLY CARRIED IT TO THE TOMB AND PREPARED IT FOR BURIAL. WE HEAR THE DEAFENING THUD OF THE ROCK AS IT IS ROLLED INTO PLACE, AND STAND IN HOPELESS SILENCE WONDERING, “NOW WHAT”.

PERHAPS THIS IS WHAT MAKES EASTER SUNDAY SO SPECIAL. THE DEPTH OF OUR SADNESS TODAY IS TRANSFORMED BY THE REALIZATION THAT JESUS IS ALIVE AND VICTORIOUS OVER THE GRAVE. THE FEELING ON THAT DAY IS RELAXING HAPPINESS AND JOY BUT THE SAME QUESTION REMAINS, “NOW WHAT”?

TODAY THOUGH, WE REMEMBER JESUS’ AGONIZING DEATH ON THE CROSS. WHY, BEFORE THE FOUNDATION OF THE WORLD DID GOD CHOOSE TO USE THE CROSS TO ACCOMPLISH THE PLAN OF SALVATION FOR PEOPLE?

2 TIMOTHY 1:9: HE HAS SAVED US AND CALLED US TO A HOLY LIFE—NOT BECAUSE OF ANYTHING WE HAVE DONE BUT BECAUSE OF HIS OWN PURPOSE AND GRACE. THIS GRACE WAS GIVEN US IN CHRIST JESUS BEFORE THE BEGINNING OF TIME,

FIRST TREE: KNOWLEDGE OF GOOD AND EVIL

A KEY TO UNDERSTANDING THE NECESSITY OF THE CROSS, IS TO COMPREHEND, AT LEAST PARTIALLY, THE DEPTH OF OUR SINFUL STATE. TO DO THIS WE GO BACK TO THE GARDEN CALLED EDEN.

EDEN WAS A PERFECT PLACE BEFORE THE FALL OF HUMANITY. ALL THAT WAS IN IT, INCLUDING HUMANITY WAS CREATED VERY GOOD. HERE HUMANITY HAD THE POTENTIAL TO LIVE FOREVER. PAIN MAY HAVE BEEN FELT, BUT IT WAS ONLY FOR POSITIVE REASONS. ALL FORMS OF PLANT LIFE WAS THERE AND MAN WAS ALLOWED TO EAT ANY OF IT, EXCEPT FOR ONE.

THE TREE OF KNOWLEDGE OF GOOD AND EVIL WAS A TREE OF CHOICE. IT WAS NO DIFFERENT THAN ANY OTHER TREE IN THE GARDEN, BUT IT OFFERED HUMANITY A CHOICE NO OTHER TREE IN THE GARDEN COULD, AND THAT WAS THE CHOICE TO BE OBEDIENT. THE NAME WE GAVE TO THE TREE SPOKE TO THE CONSEQUENCES WE WOULD SUFFER IF WE EAT FROM THE TREE.

WHILE SATAN TEMPTED ADAM AND EVE HE HAD THE ADVANTAGE OF KNOWING THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN GOOD AND EVIL AS HE HAD ALREADY CHOSEN EVIL. HIS OBJECTIVE IN THE GARDEN WAS TO GET HUMANITY TO CHOOSE EVIL AS WELL.

SATAN OFFERED THE CHOICE TO KNOW TWO WORLDS, THE WORLD OF GOODNESS BUT ALSO THE WORLD OF EVIL, AND ONCE THE CHOICE WAS MADE IT COULD NOT BE TAKEN BACK. IT COULD BE FORGIVEN, BUT IT’S EFFECTS COULD NEVER BE REMOVED. THE ONLY WAY WE COULD LEARN EVIL WAS TO COMMIT EVIL, AND ONCE THAT HAPPENED OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD FOREVER CHANGED.

THE CONSEQUENCES OF THE FALL WERE DEVESTATING AND ABSOLUTE. THE SIN NATURE WAS PASSED TO ALL HUMANITY, AS WELL AS THE CONSEQUENCE.

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