Monday, February 12, 2018

Maker of the Redwoods

When my sons were growing up our family camped every summer in the coastal redwoods of California. We loved the state parks – Big Basin, Patrick’s Point, Prairie Creek, Portola, Butano, Grizzly Creek, Henry Cowell. 

Being in an old growth redwood forest is like being in a cathedral. You are humbled by the scale of these trees – both their height and their age. They tower 200 feet above you, and some of them are over 2000 years old.

My wife and I don’t camp much anymore, but a few years ago we got to go back to Big Basin Redwoods. One morning as I hiked through the forest, I thought about the forest’s Creator. The Lord made these trees! He made them grand and beautiful and long-lived.

Then it occurred to me – Jesus Christ was on earth when some of these trees began to grow. Of course there are no coastal redwoods in Israel, so it’s not like He ever saw them. Right?

But wait – Christ created Big Basin. He planted this forest! So after He “emptied Himself” to become a man*, did He ever have “divine memories” of what it was like when these trees first began to grow? During His earthly sojourn, did He ever mentally inventory the beautiful vistas He made on this planet before His incarnation? Could He, did He, ever revel in the beauty He created in other parts of this planet, like Big Basin?

Well, of course I don’t know. But my musings illustrate a wonderful and mysterious truth about Jesus Christ – He is perfect God, and perfect man. The eternal Christ added a human nature, and from the moment the cell divided in Mary’s womb, Jesus Christ has been and always will be, the God-Man.
The first verses of Hebrews are written in praise of Christ. They are in awe of Him. And so we are given seven great descriptions of Jesus in only two verses (vv. 2-3). Last time we talked about Jesus as HEIR OF ALL THINGS. This time I hope you’ll consider with me how He is also THE CREATOR. Here’s Hebrews 1:2:
but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.
If you stopped with "heir of all things,” you might be tempted to conclude that Jesus was only a man whom God appointed to a special role. Certainly I tried to explain how His appointment was connected to His humanity, and specifically His redemptive mission.

But the next words blow apart any limitations you might assume by the first description. Hebrews doesn’t allow us to think of Jesus as “just a man,” or even as a superior, angelic being whom God uniquely favored. No, the same one who is “heir” is also the one through whom also he [the Father] created the world.  Actually “world” isn’t really the best translation. The Greek word is “ages,” and means Christ created the whole universe, time and space included.

Obviously the Son existed before creation. He is not a created being at all, like angels. John 1:2-3 says He was in the beginning with God.  All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. So also Colossians 1:16:  For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.

So the world that Christ entered as the humblest, most vulnerable creature, as a baby in the womb, that very world was His creation. He filled His lungs with the air He Himself made. He learned to walk under the gravity He designed.

I’d like to imagine Him sitting at sunset, refreshed by a wind off the Sea of Galilee, and, just for a moment, remembering with pleasure the beginnings of a redwood forest that would in time rise far above the coastal landscape of North America and give Him praise.

What we know for sure is that the iron He put in the ground was forged to become the nails and spearhead that pierced His body, and a tree He planted was milled into the cross upon which He suffered and died.

*See Philippians 2:6-7. "Emptied himself" does NOT mean Jesus gave up His divine attributes, but that He didn't use His deity to His own advantage. He didn't give up His deity, but added a human nature - became a servant.