The great gardener, Himself, not only made all the beautiful and delicious plants to grow in the Garden of Eden, but he put two other trees there as well. Genesis 2:9b, says, “The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” These two trees are singled out because they represent death and life. Eat from one of them and you will live. Eat from the other and you will die. Now, it’s not because one tree was poisonous. No, both trees, in my opinion, were beautiful to look at and they were both edible and even delicious.  Living in communion with God in Paradise however, demanded an open and honest understanding and recognition of God. It involves trusting God to be a good and loving God who always has our best foremost in His mind, even when it doesn’t look like it. It’s trusting Him to know what’s best and resting in that trust.

Picture with me, if you will, on our left is the tree of life. It was given as food. It must have been one of those that not only looked good but tasted good also. But then on the right side is the tree of the Knowledge of Good and evil. This tree was forbidden to us by decree from the great gardener himself. But man listened to the lies of the great father of lies, the great deceiver, and they, seeing that it too was one of those trees that were both beautiful and good for food, decided to believe the lie and ate from the forbidden fruit, the tree that became the source of our sin. Since then, it’s been the other tree that has been forbidden from us. The tree of life that is now forbidden awaits all those who have washed their garments in the blood of the lamb. That’s the symbol of a third tree we should imagine between the two others. The middle tree, the cross, where the curse of death we accrued at the first tree, was taken by Jesus himself for us, and through which we gain access to the other tree, the tree of life. Jesus promises us “eternal life” instead of death. John 3:16 is key here. It reads, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believes in him will not perish but have everlasting life.”

Now consider the three trees standing on the hill called Golgotha, the place of the skull. On the left we have a tree on which hangs a thief, that would take what did not belong to him and yet have no remorse or repentance in his heart. On the other tree is a thief, a sinner of the same kind as the one on the other side, yet he was filled with remorse and acknowledged the penalty as just and sought not to be delivered from his just deserts, but looked to the one between them suffering innocently and cast his lot with that one. The figure on the middle tree, said to him, “Today, you will be with me in Paradise.”