The Tree of Life
There were two trees in the Garden of Eden – “The Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil,” and “The Tree of Life.” After partaking of the forbidden fruit, Adam and Eve were cast out of the garden, and [were] not allowed to return and partake of the “Tree of Life.” And from there, it seems as though the entire Bible is a saga of man’s continued fall from that mysterious tree. What was that tree, and how do we get back to it? Well, there’s the story.
Thirty-four centuries later Nephi saw the “Tree of Life” in a vision. He described it as beautiful, white, and precious above every other tree. He described the fruit as most desirable to make one happy. What is this tree and how do we partake of its fruit. That was Nephi’s question?
While Nephi pondered the Tree and its meaning, He was caught away in vision and saw the most beautiful and fair of women in the village of Nazareth. It was Mary, the mother of Jesus, who would not be born for another 600 years. The next thing he saw was Mary caught away in the Spirit of the Lord, and when he next saw her, she was carrying that Baby in her arms.
After seeing these things, Nephi was then asked if he understood now the meaning of the tree.
“…Yea,” he said in answer. “It is the love of God, which sheddeth itself abroad in the hearts of the children of men…” (1 Nephi 11:22)
You see? God’s love is like a great and beautiful tree shading and nourishing this earth. “The Tree of Life” was a representation of God’s love manifested in the coming of Jesus Christ. Indeed God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son. Christ is the living embodiment of God’s love for us. His word and Gospel, like a rod of iron, leads us back to that “The Tree of life or Tree of Love.” Christ came to lead us back to that very tree from which Adam and Eve were barred. And when we partake of that love by the Spirit, there is nothing in this world more powerful, more pure, more joyous to the soul than the love of almighty God. Nephi would later say, “He hath filled me with his love even unto the consuming of my flesh” (2 Nephi 4:21). To receive that love is our most desirable mortal experience. To know that love, is to live abundantly, and to live without that love is only to exist.
Life has always been, and still is, all about love – God for His Son, the Son for us, and us for each other. That perfect, pure, and unfailing love is called charity. May it take root in your heart and become a “Tree of Life” – that reaches toward Heaven, and nourishes and shelters your family and friends.
Sources: 1 Nephi 8-11, 12:16-18, 15
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