Jesus Christ: The Tree of Life

The Tree of Life: Partaking of His Divinity

God’s original intention is to share His life with us. As recorded in Genesis, He wanted men to eat from the Tree of Life, but Adam and Eve failed.

John Wesley once wrote in a hymn,

“He deigns in flesh to appear,
Widest extremes to join;
To bring our vileness near,
And make us all divine” – John Wesley

We often forget that the goal of Jesus coming in flesh to die for us is not simply to save us, but to share His life with us – to make us all divine – in the word of Wesley. Our God came down in the form of humanity so that we can partake of His divinity in eternity.

Perhaps some who prefer a literal understanding of books like Genesis and Revelation at all times may find it unacceptable to view the two trees in the garden as metaphors, but Charles Spurgeon is among those who believe the trees to be symbolic,

“But here we translate the metaphor—we do not understand that tree to be literal. We believe our Lord Jesus Christ to be none other than that tree of life whose leaves are for the healing of the nations!’ – Charles Spurgeon

However, as said, Adam and Eve did not eat from the right tree which symbolizes the life of Christ who has always existed eternity past. Therefore, the Lord came down as a man so that we can share in His life. Is it merely a coincidence that the Lord was hanged on a tree for us? Our Lord, who died hanging on a tree, said that He came so that we “may have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10). He is the Resurrection and the Life (John 11:25).

Therefore “God’s intention is that He Himself would be life to man, but because man became fallen, God had to change in form from the tree of life to the Lamb. God as life came in the form of the Lamb to take away the sin of the world. According to the record of the passover in Exodus 12, the lamb was not only good for redeeming but also good for nourishing. The blood of the lamb was for redeeming, and the meat of the lamb was for nourishing. ” – Witness Lee

Complete Dependence

Eating from the Tree of Life also signify a complete dependence on God.

“God wants us to have no activity apart from Him. He wants us to die to ourselves. He wants us to attach ourselves to Him as if we could not even move without Him. God does not want us to initiate anything by ourselves, but He wants us to act according to His instruction in everything. God wants us to realize that we are helpless and that we should depend on Him wholeheartedly. We should reject any independent act apart from God. It is altogether of the self to do anything, try to do anything, or have done anything without praying, without waiting for God, without seeking His will and clearly understanding it, without recognizing the self’s weaknesses and impotence, without helplessly turning to and depending on God, and without the assurance (through the inspection of the conscience) that nothing of the self is involved. In God’s eyes, without this assurance, what we do just involves sins. ” – Watchman Nee

“But it was also a symbolical tree. It was a symbol of Adam’s dependence upon God for his life. Every time he saw it and ate its fruit, Adam was reminded that his life came from God, was preserved by God, and belonged to God.” – Don Fortner

The Source of Life

The Tree of Life also symbolized that God is the source of life.

What else in the Bible is real and material, yet at the same time symbolises the life which is in Christ and points us repeatedly to Him? Something in which Christians share, and which reminds them that Jesus’ death brings us life? It is the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper. Now, let us return to the Garden of Eden. I want to suggest that the Tree of Life was there to perform such a sacramental function. If Adam passed the test of obedience, it would be the means of God’s imparting eternal life to him, not by magic, but by the working of his Spirit ‘by, with and under’ the fruit of the Tree. – W. Peter Gadsby

“You see, that tree of life was a picture, a symbol, a type of the Lord Jesus Christ. — He is a tree of life to them that lay hold upon Him (Proverbs 3:18; Revelation 2:7; 22:2, 14). Christ is our Life! He is the Author and Giver of Life! As our Mediator, He asked the Father for our life. As our Redeemer, He purchased a right to life for us with his own blood. As our Advocate and Intercessor in heaven, He secures us in life in himself. — “Your life is hid with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:3; John 10:27-30).” – Don Fortner

The Tree of Knowledge

The tree of knowledge, on the the other hand, reveals our sinful nature of wanting independence from God, our desire to set our own laws on deciding what is good and evil, or even more so, our craving to become God ourselves. Watchman Nee gives us a clear picture on this topic,

“The meaning of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil is man acting apart from God, man pursuing goodness according to his self-will, man hastily and impatiently seeking after the knowledge that God has not granted, and man pursuing progress by his own means rather than by trusting in God. What all these mean is that man is simply acting alone and independently, outside of God. Dear brothers, this is the first sin committed by man. In God’s eyes, the meaning of sin is not necessarily related to committing many defiling acts. As long as man seeks anything, does anything, or acts in any way by himself, he has sinned, regardless of whether the thing he seeks after or does is good or bad.” – Watchman Nee

Greg Boyd has also offered his interesting view on this matter,

“We have failed to understand and internalize the biblical teaching that our fundamental sin is not our evil—as though the solution for sin was to become good—but our getting life from what we believe is our knowledge of good and evil. Our fundamental sin is that we place ourselves in the position of God and divide the world between what we judge to be good and what we judge to be evil. And this judgment is the primary thing that keeps us from doing the central thing God created us to do, namely, love like he loves.” – Greg Boyd

Further Reading

  • Read “The Forgotten Tree” from Jesus Manifesto by Frank Viola for free here
  • Read “Christ The Tree Of Life” by Charles Spurgeon for free here
  •  The Tree of Life, by Witness Lee

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