For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: Isaiah 53:2a
Much of how Christians celebrate Christmas is traditional. Now, there are some good traditions (2 Thessalonians 2:15) which are all Bible-based. Tradition lends to consistency, and also strengthens overall memory when it is observed wisely.
The normal family home will be filled with such traditions that are rich in meaning and history. Candy canes resemble the shepherds’ crooks that steadied them as they hurried to see the birth of Jesus. Lights on the tree and upon the house reflect the announcing angel and heavenly host that praised God with, “Glory to God in the highest!” Gifts remind us of the treasures of the wise men, and also of the greatest Gift, the Saviour in the manger. And lest you think it just convenience to go home for the holidays, recall the pilgrimage Joseph and Mary made to Joseph’s hometown on the eve of that wonderful birthday.
Many traditions can find their source in Scripture, without stretching at all. Which leads me to ask: “But what of the tree?” It seems to be the centerpiece, and yet in the nativity story in every Gospel and prophecy, I see no tree. The studious Bible-believer will be quick to inform me of pagan rituals they assume represent in Christmas tradition. But I would like to dig deeper, and see if there is a Scriptural basis for a tree in this Christmas gospel.
I find my first clue about trees in a garden. Go figure. Genesis 2 tells me that God made two trees centerpiece, and in verse 9 it mentions the first clue: “the tree of life also in the midst of the garden.” Though the tree of life is the lesser-known of the two trees, it proves that God’s first offer of eternal life was in the fruit of an everlasting tree. If I was going to guess a kind of tree, based on the this fact, it would have to be an evergreen tree.
Quickly now, follow me to Psalm 1:3 “And he shall be like a tree…” There are many similitudes drawn of men and trees in the Bible. Suffice it to say, nearly all references to trees are prophetically or spiritually tied to either the Lord Jesus, or the Antichrist. This clue tells me, then, that our search for a tree in the nativity may have been a false start. Perhaps this “tree of life” is also the “Blessed… man” of Psalm 1?
Hurry through your Bible to Isaiah 53:3. It all comes together here. “For HE shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground.” It’s unbelievable, I know, but the proof is irrefutable: The traditional Christmas tree was the Baby bedded down in the feed trough that night. God’s Tree of Life uprooted from the Heavenly orchard and transplanted into a cursed wasteland.
Jesus said, “I am the vine, ye are the branches.” So it happened, some 33 years after His birth, the Vine was attached to an old, dead tree to be killed, and give life to all who would receive Him.
And that’s how the tree fits into Christmas tradition. Have a wonderful weekend! If you have a special Christmas tradition, please share it with me in the comment section below.