The Tree of Life

     Everyone must have been startled when they heard Jesus say, “Truly, truly, I say to you, except you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink His blood, you have no life in you” (John 6:53). A large gathering of people had been following Him, but after He had made that controversial statement, the crowd swiftly diminished to a handful of faithful disciples.

     It was not surprising that Jesus’ words would disperse most of His followers at that time. After all, they were Jews. Jesus had just told them to “drink His blood.” To ingest blood was strictly forbidden to a Jew. It was a commandment that God had originally given to Noah; - “But the flesh with life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall you not eat” (Genesis 9:4).
     When an animal was slaughtered for food, the blood was drained out, then carefully salted and soaked to make sure that no blood remained to be eaten.
     I am sure that when Jesus told the Jews who were following Him to “drink His blood,” they received this as a hard statement, a blasphemous statement.

     Jesus looked at His disciples who remained and He asked them if they were going to leave Him, too. Peter replied, “To whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God” (John 6:68).

     So His disciples followed Him to His sacrifice and witnessed His blood pour out and disappear into the mud beneath their feet (John 19: 17-22).

     Jesus’ disciples were Jews, too. They knew the law, the word that God gave to His servant, Moses. They had heard the declaration that reiterated God’s original command to Noah – “The life is in the blood and I have given it upon the altar to make atonement for the soul. It is the blood that makes atonement for the soul (Leviticus 17:11).
     God has never changed this requirement for the remission of sin.

     The first sacrifice that the Bible records was made by God Himself; Adam and Eve had disobeyed God’s command not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. When that knowledge came into their souls, they realized that they were naked and attempted to rectify the situation by covering themselves with leaves; leaves that would eventually wither and disintegrate, exposing their nakedness all over again. Likewise, all human effort to obtain a righteousness that can cover our sins will also be ineffective. The prophet Isaiah confirms this principle – But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away (Isaiah 64:6).

     The account in Genesis also tells us that God made them coats of skins and clothed them. - Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them (Genesis 3:21).

     And as history attests, from that point on man has associated sacrifice with forgiveness and reconciliation.

     One of the great lessons of the Original sin of Adam and Eve is that we all must live with the consequences of our choices. And what we do affects others; we cannot sin without hurting someone else, including ourselves and our God, who is grieved and grieves for us when we err.
     Adam and Eve chose to disobey God, even though He had warned them that if they disobeyed Him they would die - And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you shall not eat of it: for in the day that you eat thereof you shall surely die” (Genesis 2:16, 17).

     Adam and his wife were forgiven, but they had to live with the results of their disobedience as we do to this day, we all die.

     Adam was given life by the “breath” - And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul (Genesis 2:7).
     In the original Hebrew the word “breath” is neshamah. The word for God’s Spirit is Ruach. Adam was not given life by God’s eternal Holy Spirit, therefore his life force, or spirit was not eternal. Our first parent’s longevity was obtained through their diet.
     After they had sinned, they were blocked from the tree of life – And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of Us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever: Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the Garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. So He drove out the man; and He placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life (Genesis22 –24).
     The fruit from that tree was the element in their diet that enabled their lives to continue indefinitely. When that staple was removed, Adam, Eve and their descendants would experience death just as God had said.

     They must have grieved for the loss of that valuable food, yet they could comfort themselves as they felt the soft, skins that clothed them through the blood that was shed; clothing provided for them by a loving God, to keep them warm throughout the cold days ahead.

     The pattern of sacrifice for the remission of sin was established and continued through their offspring.
     Their son, Cain, brought an offering to God from the fields, the labor of his hands from ground that God had cursed (Genesis 3:17). His brother, Abel, gave to God an offering from his flock. God rejected Cain’s gift and accepted the animal -
For the life is in the blood.

     When Abraham was told to sacrifice his son, and he was willing to obey; God provided a ram to take the boy’s place because -
The life is in the blood.

     When death threatened God’s people in Pharaoh’s domain, Moses was told to put the blood of a sacrificed lamb upon the doorposts of their houses and they would be saved because –
The life is in the blood.

     When God’s people sinned by worshipping the works of their own hands and danced around the golden calf; God gave Moses the pattern that contained the provision for their forgiveness through the sacrifices in the tabernacle plan because –
The life is in the blood.

     And the prophet Isaiah looked forward to the time when a new tree of life would arise –

“For He shall grow up before Him, as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground…”(Isaiah 53:2).
to be cut down, to be
“wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities….(Isaiah 53:5);
Whose soul would be an offering, a sacrifice for our sins (Isaiah 53:10),
Because –
The life is in the blood.

     And the tender plant that died would live again to “see His seed,” (Isaiah 53:10) He would witness His offspring; those who believe in Him. He would grow again….For God would not leave His Holy One to corruption and decay in the grave (Psalm 16:10) because -
The life is in the blood.

     The disciples watched the life in the blood being poured out from Jesus’ wounds, softening the cold, hard ground with its warm moisture to return to the earth from where the first man was formed and life began – where seeds die and come to life again.

     “For as the Father has life in himself; so has He given to the Son to have life in himself;” Jesus told His disciples (John 5:26). They may not have understood what He meant at the time. He illustrated the principle for them when He died and came back to life as prophesied confirming that -
the life is in
His blood.

     He told them that He was the Vine and to live in Him they must abide.
He showed them the wounds in His hands and His side,
And they realized that they were beholding
A new tree of life.

As they beheld the resurrected Savior, they remembered Him saying,

“Eat My flesh and drink My blood” – and you shall live forever- For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him, should not perish, but have everlasting life (John 3:16).

And God commands us to eat from this tree of life.

Eat His flesh, His words, and believe;
Drink of His blood, His Spirit, because
The life is in the blood
of the slain Lamb of God.

Eat of the fruit of this Vine,
This tree of life,
For you are clothed with the warm covering of His sacrifice,
And your soul shall live forever.

And know what God has been saying throughout the centuries;
To those who have been listening –
You are loved and forgiven.

Then Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, except you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink His blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats My flesh, and drinks My blood, has eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For My flesh is meat indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. He that eats My flesh, and drinks My blood, dwells in Me, and I in him. As the living Father has sent Me, and I live by the Father: so he that eats Me, even he shall live by Me. Truly, truly, I say to you, He that believes on Me has everlasting life – John 6:53, 57, 47.

Copyright 2012 by H.D. Shively

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