The sky was a cloudless blue. He looked at her and knew that she was just what he had been waiting for. He could hear the birds calling, "What a great Creator we have. Let us give him the glory due his name."
He nodded, his heart too full to speak. And then he looked to the centre of the garden.
"Eat your fill. But do not touch that tree." No worries. Easily done. He gave it not another thought.
But, the snake was present and the woman listened.
God’s wrath descending. Laying blame. Passing the buck.
Kicked out of all they ever knew. Experience pain, sorrow, anger, murder.
Lord, is this the end?
"As a tree has cursed you, so one will save you."
And through the ages, they looked to the promise.
And in Bethlehem, a babe was laid in a manger made out of wood. Splintery, cold, dirty, filled with straw and cow dung.
Lord, is this the conqueror?
No, this is not the end of the story. If it was, would Christmas be something to celebrate? What can a baby do to rule the world and crush the serpent’s head?
The answer comes later. A tree is cut down for the most horrible use of all. Blood spilled, a thief is saved. And the hoarse cry, "It is finished."
Finished? The death of a miracle worker, an illegitimate baby from Nazareth? What does this mean? Scoffers laugh. Disciples despair. Yet, the answer is clear. So sin came through one man, so we will be saved by one man. So Satan used a tree to undo man, so God used a tree to make all well again.
This Christmas, you will probably sit in front of your evergreen tree, dazzling with lights and decorations. But, as you celebrate, do not forget the tree shaped like a cross and the babe, grown man, who died for sinners such as us.