Summary: The tree we should not forget about during Christmas. From the real tree of Christmas, we can find three things on display for us to stand wonder of His love.
Text: 1 Peter 2:21-25 MS-76 Sullivan 12/21/08
Title: The Tree to Remember at Christmas
I lived in Oregon and Washington as I was growing up. And there are millions of acres of pine trees, and lots of sizes, some with short needles, some with long ones, some tall and lean, others short and stubby. It was a Christmas tree paradise. And it’s not long after Thanksgiving that you see balls and bells, glittering tinsel, tiny blinking lights of every color, and figurines surrounding them with bails of hay, and stars and angels on the top of these trees, with a clutter of packages of every shape and size underneath.
This morning I want to talk about the real Christmas tree – the tree we should not forget about during Christmas. In fact, we might even call it The First Christmas Tree.
It wasn’t standing in a palace or in a country cottage, or at the mall of the capital city – but on a hilltop just outside the huge walled ancient city of Jerusalem. It wasn’t a green pine tree, nor did it have short or long needles. In fact it was kind of bare, with two branches stretching out both sides of its trunk. It didn’t have balls and bells and tinsel, but it was decorated with a quickly made decoration on the top of it – a piece of dull, brown, ragged parchment with a few words scrawled on it in three languages with a saying written on it: “Jesus, King of the Jews.” There were no colorful, blinking lights; in fact, there was no light at all for several hours because even the sun refused to shine on it that day.
But the tree did display a Gift that was fastened to it by three giant nails. The Gift was a body of a naked man. And He was decorated on His hands, face, brow and feet with ribbons of crimson blood. And the Gift was signed “To: Mankind From: God with love”.
It was an expensive Gift; one that only God could afford to give – the Gift was His only begotten Son.
A beloved friend of this Son of God recorded the Christmas message that was behind this Gift – “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.”
A Cousin called this Son of God “the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world.”
A close friend, who had denied His friendship three times looked back at this first Christmas Tree and Christmas Gift and wrote “Who His own self bore our sins in His own body on the tree, so that we being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness, by Whose stripes we are healed.”
There has never been a Christmas tree since that has displayed such a priceless Gift as did this tree on the hilltop of Golgotha. And no Giver has paid such a high price as the One who spared not even His only Son, but freely gave Him up for us all. (Ro. 8:32)
And why such a Gift? So that we could have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, and a life that is dead to sin and alive to righteousness.
At this time of the year, in homes all across America, you will find a Christmas tree with a least a few presents underneath. Some would say that believers should have nothing to do with Christmas trees because of their pagan origin. But the Christmas tree has become a part of our season and celebration, and its pagan meaning lost long ago, just like the days of our week have lost their original pagan meaning.
But from the real tree of Christmas, we can find three things on display for us to stand wonder of His love.
1. Our Pattern vss. 21-23
These verses tell us that on the Tree Jesus died on, He left us a pattern, an example, a template, for how to endure affliction.. He suffered on the tree of Calvary as an Example for us who might find ourselves suffering for righteousness sake, for doing what is right and true. He’s our example of to react to our difficult situations, just as we saw how Mary and Joseph reacted to their difficult circumstances.
When we actively obey God and our faith is active obedience, it may lead to suffering and difficulties and trials. But the love Jesus showed on the Tree that day was our pattern. He was doing it all from the motive of love – love for those who hated and despised Him. We’re seeing a lot of those who are willing to suffer and commit suicide for their god, but their motive isn’t love, it’s hate.