Happy New Year Brothers! I hope this past year has been full of blessings and that the year to come will be full of even more. No matter what has happened this past year, however, anyone who has joined us for the this year of reading the New Testament cannot say it wasn’t a blessing. Now I’m not bragging on myself. It wasn’t my commentary that made it a blessing. It is God’s Holy Word that is the blessing. Reading God’s Holy Word is a great blessing in and of itself and it has been my pleasure to enjoy that blessing with you!
Today we end our reading of the New Testament. I made the observation just the other day that in terms of the Bible, we have come full circle. Genesis began with man in right relationship with God and it will end with man restored to right relationship with God. Of course the New Testament has its own full circle as well; it begins with the first coming of Christ and ends with His second coming. God’s message of love and redemption is a solid through-line found in every book of the Bible. I can say that with confidence because Jesus is found in every book of the Bible. Don’t believe me? Join us in 2013 as we read through the Old Testament in a year. We’ll look for Christ in every book of the Old Testament together.
Let me tease this journey of discovery by show Jesus to you in today’s passage and then how He similarly appears in Genesis.
Revelation 22:1-2 ESV
“ Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb  through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.”
A couple of times in this last chapter of the Bible we see references to “The Tree of Life”. You may not be aware that Jesus is the Tree of Life. You may remember that during His earthly ministry Jesus referred to Himself as the water of life and as the bread of life. He was making it clear that He is what sustains and refreshes spiritual/eternal life; He is the source of Life. In the verses above we read of the river of the Water of Life. We see that this river flows right through the middle of the Tree of Life. Notice that verse 2 says the tree, singular, is on either side of the river. Jesus is the Tree of Life – the River of the Water of Life flows through Him.
Where else in the Bible have you heard of the Tree of Life? It was one of the two trees in the middle of the Garden of Eden wasn’t it? Remember that place? God created His perfect world and He created man to tend the garden and walk with Him in the cool of the evening. That was paradise. God gave only one rule. He said that man was not to eat of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. We all know what happened. Adam and Eve wanted to be their own god so they broke the rule; they ate of the tree.
What we usually miss in this story is the fact that there were two trees in the middle of the garden and the Tree of Life, the other tree, was not forbidden them. They could have, at any time, eaten of the Tree of Life. I suspect if they had, they would have lost the desire to be their own God, and the long separation of man from God would never have occurred. But they didn’t choose to eat of the Tree of Life. They rejected right relationship with God and in essence ran away from home.
I was discussing kids and their relationship with their parents with my parents earlier today. We were marveling at how kids don’t seem to understand how good they have things until they lose those things. Kids will sometimes run away from home because they reject their parent’s authority over their life. They think life will be better if only they can call their own shots. Only a few of those kids come to realize how good they had it and return home to the loving arms of their parents; the others are lost forever. The biblical story of the Prodigal Son is an illustration of this very phenomenon. Well, you and I brothers, just like Adam and Eve, have rejected right relationship with God and run away from home. Those of us who have submitted our lives to Christ have returned home.
At the end of the age those whose names are found in the Lamb’s Book of Life will once more be able to eat of the Tree of Life. We will have been restored to right relationship with God. We will acknowledge that He is God and we are not; and we’ll not only be okay with that, we will rejoice in that. Guys, I look forward to being home again!