THE CENTER TREE
The other day I was at the Christmas festivities for our small town. At the center of the event was a Christmas tree. It is not uncommon for cities to place the traditional Christmas or “holiday” tree in their town square. The tree lighting is a big event, and the festivities center around the tree. Many families have a Christmas tree in their home. It becomes the center of attention as gifts are placed beneath.
The Christmas tree is in the center of the event and provides much joy, but there is another Tree.
On one of my missions trips to Africa, I learned about the legend of the Abiriba Achi Tree. Abiriba is a village in Abia State, in southeastern Nigeria. In the center of town is a large, ancient Okpu (Achi) tree. To the local citizens, the tree is both symbolic and spiritual in nature. There are many mystical stories that surround the Achi Tree. When giving directions, they always begin at the Tree. Former NFL Eagles defensive end N. D. Kalu, now a successful radio personality, said, “Whenever I am lost, I look for the (Achi) Tree, and I know where I am.”
The Abiriba Tree is in the center of town and provides direction, but there is another Tree.
We learned about this last Tree from Jesus in Matthew 10:38. He called it a Cross while referring to criminals who would carry their means of death upon their shoulders. It was a prophecy of what Christ Himself would do. The cross represented the trial or affliction that leads to death and greater glory. In the timing and providence of God, Jesus was lifted up on that Cross that was placed at the center between two thieves.
It was the Apostle Peter who first referred to the center Cross as a Tree in Acts 5:30 and Acts 10:39. Peter wrote about Jesus in 1 Peter 2:24, “Who Himself bore our sins in His own Body on the Tree.” The sacred Tree Peter spoke of brings joy and direction.
The Christmas Tree is seasonal. The Cross is for all time and Eternity. The Abiriba Achi Tree stands in a small town where few will see it. The Cross reaches around the world and provides Salvation and direction for every race, nationality, and culture.
Three Trees. But the Cross of Jesus stands above them all and is at the center. It was Justin Martyr who said of Psalm 96:10, “Say among the nations, the Lord ruleth by wood (meaning the Cross).” Or as the ancient Latin chant Vexilla Regis stated in the year 600, “Regnavit a ligno Deus.” (The God who has ruled us from a tree.”)
Have a blessed Christmas! Please visit my Website at www.davidroseministries.com