Where is the Tree of Life?
Lately I’ve been meditating on the phrase “tree of life.” It occurs in only three books of the Bible: Genesis, Revelation, and Proverbs.
In Genesis, we find the tree of life in the garden of Eden, while in Revelation the tree of life is mentioned in the book’s concluding chapter, which addresses the new heaven and the new earth that will be created once all things have been made right. Some people see the tree of life as a reference to Jesus, be it symbolically or literally. He was there at creation and will be there at the culmination of all things.
Proverbs puts a different twist on tree of life, preceding it with an indefinite article, as in a tree of life. According to Proverbs, a tree of life is:
- Wisdom (Proverbs 3:13-18)
- The fruit of righteousness—that is, the results of doing good (Proverbs 11:30)
- A longing fulfilled (Proverbs 13:12)
- A tongue that brings healing (Proverbs 15:4)
Is there a connection between this list (a tree of life) and Jesus (the tree of life)? Perhaps the link is that those who follow Jesus will become more like him, exemplifying these, and other admirable, characteristics. While we will never be the tree of life, I think that we can be a tree of life; we will never be the Christ (the Messiah), but we can become a Christ or “little Christs,” that is, someone who is a Christian in actual practice. Then, as a tree of life, we can effectively point people to the tree of life.
Do you think we can be a tree of life?
Peter DeHaan writes about biblical spirituality, often with a postmodern slant. He seeks a fresh approach to faith and following God through the lens of scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.