The Word and the Tree

Rev. Mark Buetow

One question people love to ask pastors, and maybe you've asked it too, is "Pastor, if God knew Adam and Eve were going to sin, why did He put the Tree of Knowledge in the garden in the first place?" Well, I'm going to tell you the answer. The reason the Lord put that tree of knowledge there in the Garden was to teach Adam and Eve that the most important gift He had for them, above all else in creation, was His Word. Everything was made by His Word. They lived by His Word. If they ignored His Word or let go of it, they would die. Which is why the devil comes and questions God's Word. It's why it's such a shame when Adam, who's standing RIGHT THERE, doesn't rebuke the serpent with God's Word and remind Eve of what the Lord had sad. Take away God's Word and there's nothing but sin and death. And what about after the Fall? What's the most important thing? Still the Lord's Word. Because when Adam and Eve wrecked everything, the Lord's Word was a promise. The promise of a Savior.

You see, Adam and Eve tried to separate God's Word from the tree. When they did that the tree was nothing for them but death and misery. So how does God save them and the world? By making sure His Word is stuck to the tree. Not the Tree of Knowledge now but the tree of the cross. Jesus, the Word-Made-Flesh is nailed to that tree because only God's Word attached to a tree will save you from death! Just as God's Word attached to the Tree of Knowledge would have saved Adam and Eve, so the Word nailed to the Tree of the cross saves us from our sins. And this time, there can be no failure because Jesus is the One keeping God's Word, Himself on that tree. Jesus won't let go of the Word. When the devil throws all those temptations at Him, Jesus throws the Word back in his face and he overcomes those temptations. Then, on the cross, there's that really big temptation the one thief tosses out: "Save yourself and us!" And the people: "Come down from the cross!" Those are all just ways of telling Jesus, "Separate the Word from the tree!" But Jesus won't. He can't. If He does, you'll be doomed. So the Word and the tree stay together. Jesus stays nailed to the cross. Unto the moment of His declaring it is finished. Unto the moment of His death. The Word and tree, forever joined for your salvation. Sure, they took Jesus down and buried Him but He arose because where the Word and tree are, life has to follow. There's been a transformation. Where the Word and tree are now becomes for you the Tree of Life.

You don't keep the Word and the tree together. If you could have eaten the fruit, you would have. You do every time you sin. Every time you turn away from God's Word. When you remember what your pastor taught you in the catechism about loving God and loving your neighbor and then just shrug your shoulders and do it anyway. When the devil comes and says, "Hey, try this!" You say, "Lead the way!" That's what sinners do. Our sin is just another way of telling God, "I want to ignore your Word attached to that tree and eat its fruit anyways because it looks delicious!" Worst of all is when people try to separate Jesus from His cross, as if our religion is something other than Jesus the Word attached to that tree to save us! That's why Jesus won't let the Word and tree be separated. Why He keeps them together. When Jesus attaches His Word to something, it sticks. He was attached to the tree to save you. Now He attaches His Word to the water of the font to wash away all the fruit juice of sin staining you. He attaches His Word to your pastor to speak the forgiveness of sins. He attaches His Word to bread and wine to deliver His body and blood. Do you see? The tree to which the Word Jesus was attached, the cross, gives you the fruit of life. The Words, "Father, forgive them." Water and blood flowing from His side to font and cup. Eden. Calvary. Same Lord. Same Word. He does things the same way. No matter what you do and what happens to you, it is His Word and tree that save you. Jesus is the Word. He holds to the Word. He keeps that Word attached to the tree and in His gifts keeps His Word and promises attached to you. Now go, the opposite direction of Adam and Eve, clothed with Jesus, back into paradise forever. In the Name of Jesus. Amen.

Created: February 24th, 2015