Dogwood trees in our part of the world are blooming beautifully now. Perhaps you have heard or read the Easter legend of the dogwood: “Because Jesus Christ’s cross was made from a dogwood tree, the once tall and straight dogwood is now cursed to a life as a small and stooped species.” To my knowledge there is not one shred of evidence, biblical or otherwise, that this legend is true. The scripture says nothing about the kind of tree used to form the cross.
The Bible does tell us plenty about Christ’s death on the cross and why it was necessary. Here are a few examples of the truth from scripture about the death and resurrection of Jesus:
It was the third hour (9 am) when they crucified him. (Mark 15:25)
At the sixth hour (12 noon) darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour. And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mark 15:33-34)
With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last. The curtain of the temple was torn in two from the top to the bottom. (Mark 15:37-38)
John’s Gospel gives us the words of Jesus’ last loud cry.
“It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
John’s Gospel also gives us a beautiful synopsis of why Jesus came into the world and willingly gave up his life on a cruel Roman cross.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
While we do not know the kind of tree used to fashion the cross on which Jesus died, we do know the reason he died on that cross. He died to atone for my sin and your sin and to make a way for you and I to be forgiven and have eternal life.
One more thing we know. Jesus did not stay dead! Hear the words of the heavenly messenger to the women who came to his tomb early on Sunday morning.
“Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! See the place where they laid him…” (Mark 16:6)
Yes the dogwood petals are beautiful this time of year. Take a close look at those four petals surrounding the tiny dogwood blossom. Be reminded of the cross. Be reminded of Christ’s enormous sacrifice for you.
Jack Chelf Jr. Interim Pastor