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Welcome to a very special edition of The Point of Purity Podcast. Normally I would wait to do a Christmas special until the actual week of Christmas. But to be honest with you, I’m too excited to wait. In this episode we are going to dive into the Scriptures to discover how we can use the Christmas Tree to teach our family and friends the Gospel message of salvation through the finished work of Christ on the cross of Calvary.
I’m Steve Etner – author, national speaker, and purity coach for The Pure Man Ministry. Welcome to this Christmas Episode entitled: “The CHRISTmas Tree!”
In Deuteronomy 6:4-9 we read: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”
What is God telling the Israelites to do? He wants them to talk with their family about God’s deliverance from bondage to Egypt. AND make sure the things you have around you (especially the things you put up in your house) are used in a way that reminds you of God’s mighty deliverance on your behalf.
Look again at verse 9 - Even on the doorframes and foundation of your house! God is saying – Everything you say and do, including the things you put in your house, should be used to teach your family about the deliverance from bondage and the amazing salvation God provided.
Even today God is challenging us - what we put up in our house should be used to teach our children about God’s deliverance from bondage to sin and the amazing salvation that God has provided us! Deuteronomy 6:20-21a tells us that when your child asks you “what is the meaning of this,” you should be able to tell them.
Why not a bushel of apples or stack of books? How can a pine tree teach us about God’s deliverance and gift of Salvation? Remember: it’s not just about “Christmas.” Why am I putting up a tree inside my house? What’s so special about a tree that I would re-arrange my stuff just to put it in a special place?
Think about this: If I just put up a tree as is (no lights, no ornaments, etc.) it’s just a tree standing in my living room. Is that very Christmassy? No! So, it’s not the tree itself that is special - it’s that which is hung on tree that makes people say, “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.”
Remember … the things I put up in my home should be used as a teacher / symbol of the salvation / deliverance from bondage to sin that God provided. For us today - what is that deliverance? If I’m going to go through the effort to put up a Christmas tree in my home, it needs to be a teacher / symbol of gift of Eternal Salvation God has provided.
So how is a Christmas tree a symbol of Salvation? Acts 5:30 says: “The God of our fathers raised Jesus, whom you killed by hanging him on a tree.” (see Acts 5:29-32) God has delivered us from the power of sin, and He did it by hanging His Son on a tree.
Acts 10:39 tells us that “they put him to death by hanging him on a tree.” And Acts 13:29 says, “They took him down from the tree and laid him in a tomb.” Understanding that which is placed in my home should be a testimony of our deliverance / salvation – the Christmas tree is a beautiful picture of the Cross of Calvary.
Remember I said, “It’s not the tree but that which is hung on the tree that makes you say, “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.” It’s the same for the cross. In and of itself, the cross is nothing special. If we never had Christ on the cross, the cross would mean nothing. It’s that which was hung on that cross that provides salvation to all. I submit: the message of the Christmas tree shouldn’t focus on the Birth of Christ, but upon His death.
Remember Deuteronomy 6 – everything placed in the home should be a testimony of God’s deliverance. I submit it should be the same with our Christmas tree. So, I asked the question: why a tree - I then asked …
Our answer is found in what the Christmas tree represents. What does the tree represent? It’s a symbol of Christ’s death on the cross for our salvation.
What is another name for a Pine tree? “Evergreen!” An “evergreen” is a plant that retains its life thru all seasons. Alright, pause ... think about that. An evergreen retains its life thru all seasons. In other words, no matter what it always has life. Think about what Jesus says in John 3:14-16. “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”
Jesus died on a tree to give us Eternal Life. So, a Pine tree, an evergreen, is a symbol not just of the cross – but of what was accomplished ON that cross … gift of Eternal Life.
By the way, there’s another reason for using a Pine tree as opposed to some other kind of tree. What shape does a Pine tree resemble? When you step back to look at it, it kinda looks like an arrow. What is the purpose of most arrows? (To point / provide direction). Look at what Jesus says in John 12:32 “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” (And John 14:6 “Jesus said ... I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”). Thru His death on the cross Jesus points the way to Heaven - it is through faith in him.
Let me share with you a 3rd reason for using a Pine Tree. One of the unique features of a pine tree is that it doesn’t have leaves – it has needles. Those needles are a reminder of how Christ died on that cross. Acts 2:23 says He was “put to death by nailing him to a cross.” And Thomas told the disciples in John 20:25 “unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were … I will not believe.” Those needles on that pine tree are a picture of the nails that pierced his hands and feet.
Once the tree is up – the next thing we do is put the lights on it
Remember: Deuteronomy 6 says that the things I put up in home should be used to teach our children and guests about God’s wonderful gift of salvation. Let’s look at 1 John 1:5 which says, “This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.” Revelation 21:23, speaking of the new Jerusalem says: “the city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp.” And who is the Lamb? (Jesus) And in John 8:12 Jesus says, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
I grew up with the concept that we HANG the lights on the tree. What did Jesus – light of world – do on the cross? He hung upon it! The Light of the World hung on the tree. Remember Acts 5:30? Jesus was “killed by hanging on a tree.” So, we HANG the lights on the Christmas tree as a symbol of The Light of the World hanging on the cross for our salvation.
Now, let me share with you another observation regarding the lights on the tree. Listen carefully to what Hebrews 7:26 says. “For it was indeed fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens.” Jesus was “holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners.” 1 John 3:5 tells us that Christ “appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin.” In our household we hang white lights on tree to remind us that Jesus was Holy / Pure / without sin. So, when we look at our tree, those white lights are there to declare that the thrice holy God - the light of the world, he who knew no sin - hung on that cross to pay penalty for my sin and yours!
Now we have colored lights on the tree as well. Isaiah 53:4-6 tells us that Jesus “has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned – every one – to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.”
Jesus took up OUR infirmities. He carried OUR sorrows. He was pierced for OUR transgressions and was crushed for OUR iniquities. “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.” (1 Peter 2:24) And Galatians 3:13 says “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us – for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree’.” Those colored lights remind me that it was MY sin that hung Christ on that cross. MY sin was crucified with Christ. The Light of the world took OUR sin upon himself!
Remember: I was determined that in putting up the Christmas tree in our home it would be a teacher / symbol of the amazing Salvation God provided. So, how is Garland a symbol of our deliverance / salvation? More specifically – since the Christmas tree is a picture of the cross, how does Garland fit in? Think about it this way: How do you place Garland on a tree? You wrap it.
“When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who also was a disciple of Jesus. He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate ordered it to be given to him. And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen shroud and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had cut in the rock. And he rolled a great stone to the entrance of the tomb and went away.” (Matthew 27:57-60) Wrapping a tree with Garland is a reminder that Christ did literally die, and His dead, lifeless body was taken off that cross, wrapped and placed in tomb - evidence of his literal, physical death for us!
Why put Tinsel on a tree? How is Tinsel a symbol of salvation?
What did they do to Jesus before putting him on cross? John 19:1 tells us that Pilate took Jesus and scourged Him. They whipped his back, tearing his body to shreds. Isaiah 53:5 and 1 Peter 2:24 tells us that “by His stripes we are healed.” If you hang Tinsel on your Christmas tree, when you sit back to admire your tree, I challenge you to remember what Christ endured for you. Remember Isaiah 52:14 “his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any man and his form marred beyond human likeness.”
After we wrap our tree in garland (or hang tinsel on it) we begin to hang the ornaments
Continuing with our Biblical mandate to have the things we put up in our home teach / symbolize our spiritual deliverance from bondage to sin - how do Christmas ornaments point to the Salvation God provided us at the cross?
In Leviticus 17:11 God declares, “The life of the body is in its blood. I have given you the blood on the altar to purify you, making you right with the Lord. It is the blood, given in exchange for a life, that makes purification possible.” (NLT) As you look at our tree, the predominant color of our ornaments is red. Note that God says it is the blood that makes atonement for our sin. In 1 John 1:7 we read that “the blood of Jesus, God’s son, purifies us from all sin. Ephesians 1:7 tells us that it is “In (Christ) we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace.” Red ornaments are wonderful symbol of His blood shed for us.
The 2nd ornament we place on our tree is purple balls. This is to remind us of John 19:2-3. “The soldiers wove a crown of thorns and put it on his head, and they put a purple robe on him. ‘Hail! King of the Jews!’ the mocked, as they slapped him across the face.”
The 3rd ornament are silver balls. However, you will only see three silver balls clustered in one spot on our tree. We use those three silver balls to represent the 30 pieces of silver used to betray Christ. (See Matthew 26:14-16)
The 4th ornament you’ll find on our tree is gold ornaments. Romans 6:23 says that the “wages of sin is death but gift of God is eternal life.” Where will we spend that eternal life? In Heaven with God. Revelation 21 tells us the streets of Heaven are paved with Gold. What a great symbol on our tree of the salvation God has provided.
The 5th ornament you’ll see on our tree is blue ornaments. John 3:16 says, “God so loved world that He gave His one and only Son…” When you look at earth from space – what color is predominant? (blue) “And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world.” (1 John 4:14)
On I could go about ornaments. I challenge you to think about yours. For example, one of the more unique things you will find on our tree are sheep. This is because of what Jesus says in John 10:11 that “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”
Once our tree has been decorated, the last thing we do is put a star on top (some put an angel).
How is angel / star a symbol of Christ’s death on cross?
1st let’s talk about the Star. Remember: our tree is symbol of cross of Calvary (not the birth of Christ). Luke 23:38 tells us they put a sign at the top of the cross to identify who was hanging there and what their crime was. A thief, a murderer, etc. So, when we put a star on top of our tree, we’re identifying who was hanging on that cross. Numbers 24:17 prophesies of Jesus saying, “a star will come out of Jacob.” In Revelation 22:16 Jesus is called the “Bright and Morning Star.” So, the star at the top of the tree reminds of who is hanging on that tree.
2nd let’s talk about the Angel. Remember: our tree is a symbol of the cross / Christ’s death (so this angel is not about the angelic announcement of Christ’s birth). In Matthew 28:1-6 we see that an Angel sat on top of the stone to announce that Christ was no longer dead but has risen! So, the angel on top of the tree reminds us that Jesus did indeed die on the cross and was buried in a tomb – but He is no longer there, He lives!
A Christmas present is a special gift selected with you specifically in mind. It’s a special gift given specifically to meet your need. What is it that you & I need? Romans 3:23 declares that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” And Romans 6:23 tells us that “The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Your greatest need is that which no human being on planet earth could every provide you with – salvation and a life with God for eternity. So, God has selected the perfect gift to meet your greatest need!
Ok – so I’ve selected the perfect gift … now what? Before you can go through the gift-wrapping and gift-giving process, you must first purchase the gift. There is a specific price that you must pay. Again, I refer to Romans 6:23, “the wages of sin is death.” Romans 5:8 tells us that “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” He paid the price to provide you the gift. “For our sake (God) made (Jesus) to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21)
OK – so I’ve selected the perfect gift and paid the price necessary to secure it. Now I need a proper box to hold the gift. Think about it this way: you must receive the box to receive gift inside it. Not just any ol’ box would do to contain gift eternal life. Jesus says in John 14:6 “I am the way, the truth and the life, no man comes to the Father except by me.” The “box” that contains the “gift” of Eternal Life is the Person of Jesus Christ. You cannot receive the gift without receiving Christ.
Ok – so I’ve selected the perfect gift. I’ve chosen the box to place the gift in - now what? I need to wrap the box. When you wrap a present, you choose a paper that fits the occasion - right? Who wants to open a Christmas present that’s wrapped in “Get Well” wrapping paper! Listen to Hebrews 10:5. “When Christ came into the world, he said to God, ‘You did not want animal sacrifices or sin offerings. But you have given me a body to offer.” (NLT) The wrapping paper represents the body of Christ. (More on that in a moment)
Ok – so I’ve selected the perfect gift. I’ve chosen the box to place the gift in. I’ve wrapped the box – now what? I put an ID tag on it so that it’s identified as YOUR gift. God loved YOU so much that He died for YOU, to provide YOU with His gift of Salvation! It’s YOUR gift! John 3:16 declares, “For God so loved the world (He loved YOU – so put your name here), that he gave his only Son, that whoever (again, that’s YOU) believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”
Now, once the present is selected, purchased, boxed, wrapped and identified ... the present is placed where? (Under the tree). In our household, you must come to the tree to get your presents. It’s a picture of coming to the cross of Calvary to receive the gift of eternal life.
Remember I told you we’d say something more about the wrapping paper. When you open the present, are you careful not to tear the paper? Of course not! You are so anxious to get to the present inside that you rip that paper to shreds. If you recall, we use the wrapping paper to represent the fact that Jesus came to Earth in human form. He took upon Himself a human body. And that body was torn to shreds when He was crucified - all so that we could receive the gift of salvation!
Well, I pray that this episode was a real blessing to you – and a challenge to make Christmas in your home a whole lot more than just Santa Clause, pretty lights, snow, and presents.
I look forward to next week’s episode as we dive back into our new miniseries on finding meaning and purpose to life in the midst of all the chaos, craziness, and confusion that is going on all around us in our world today.
So, until then, this is Steve Etner – author, national speaker, and purity coach for The Pure Man Ministry reminding you that to glorify God in your everyday living, He must first be glorified in your every moment thinking!
Please understand that your involvement in this program does not provide any guarantee on the part of Steve Etner, The Purity Coach or The Pure Man Ministry. In other words, we are coming alongside of you for the purpose of coaching you toward accountability and purity. I am not a professional counselor and I cannot guarantee you specified results. I am, however, a man who has been where you are and has seen God work in my life in a mighty way. This program is what changed me. And God has used this program to impact the hearts of countless men across the globe!
I'm here to encourage you, to challenge you, to pray with you, and to share with you what God has taught me. I look forward to coming alongside of you in this journey!