Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree. (Galatians 3:13)
For most of my adult life I have bemoaned the blatant commercialization of Christmas. Long before the satanic observance of Halloween, Christmas displays start showing up in stores enticing consumers to bring their offerings to the god of mammon. Featured in every display is a wide assortment of Christmas trees in all shapes, sizes, and styles all professionally adorned to put the buyer in the Christmas spirit. Who cares if it is still 90° outside in Texas! What would Christmas be without a Christmas tree!
What does a Christmas tree have to do with Christmas anyway? Google is a wonderful thing and a great resource for information on a number of things, including Christmas trees. Generally speaking, the Christmas tree has pagan origins typically associated with the winter solstice and the lengthening of daylight. The evergreen tree symbolizes life, and the arrival of longer days shows the triumph of life over death and darkness. One can easily see the association of the evergreen with eternal life and the coming of the “Sun of Righteousness” (Malachi 4:2). However, it is doubtful that the “Sun of Righteousness,” whom we celebrate, arrived during the winter solstice.
Not long ago I discovered a sweet story about Christmas trees. It is “The Legend of the Three Trees.” The story tells of three young trees and their dreams of what they wanted to be when they grew up. The first wanted be made into a beautiful chest and hold a wealth of treasure. The second wanted to be made into a great ship that would carry kings. The third just wanted to stay atop its high hill and point men to God. As the story concludes, the first tree was made into a feed trough which held the greatest treasure ever – the Christ child. The second was made into a simple fishing boat that carried the King of King and Lord of Lords. Finally the third was made into a despicable cross on which the Lamb of God was sacrificed. Atop that lonely hill, that ugly tree pointed the way to God.
Perhaps that is the best image of a Christmas tree – the old rugged cross with God’s greatest gift hung on it. “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:14-16). No brightly lit and decorated tree could be more beautiful than God’s Christmas tree!