Tidbit Thursday: The Sycamine Tree and Forgiveness

As Jesus was walking with His disciples in Luke 17, He paused by a sycamine tree to make a specific point about forgiveness. Why should we care about this tree and what does it have to do with forgiveness?

And the Lord said, If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye might say unto this sycamine tree, Be thou plucked up by the root, and be thou planted in the sea; and it should obey you. (Luke 17:6 KJV)

The sycamine tree had a robust root structure that plunged deep into the desert soil to tap into underground water sources. Because of its deep roots, drought or sheering it off at the base posed little threat. It was incredibly difficult to eradicate once established. It would inevitably resurface.

Scripture talks about not allowing any bitterness to take root in our heart because eradicating unforgiveness is incredibly difficult. It grows deep, watered by any offense that lies hidden in the soil of our heart. Left alone, unforgiveness will establish deep roots and produce bitter fruit that surfaces through angry thoughts, words, and deeds.

But there is more.

The spiritual parallels between unforgiveness and the properties of the sycamine tree are chilling.

Wood from the sycamine tree was the preferred material for building coffins and caskets. It grew quickly and was readily available in many places. In fact, Egyptian archaeologists have discovered small boxes made from sycamine wood at the base of mummified sarcophagi. These sycamine boxes remained uncorrupted for at least 3,000 years. Unforgiveness remains in us, corrupting our heart and mind until we allow God access to eradicate it.

Also, the sycamine tree was only pollinated by wasps. The wasp stuck its stinger into the heart of the fruit to initiate the pollination process. The tree had to be “stung” in order to reproduce. Think of how many times you have heard someone say, “I’ve been stung by that person once, but I’m not going to be stung like that again!” You can almost see the poison of unforgiveness pollinate every bitter word they utter. Can you hear the pounding of the casket maker’s hammers?

Finally, the sycamine tree was planted where two paths met. Its large trunk and stout branches offered shade to travelers as they paused to decide which path to take. When you and I get hurt – emotionally, mentally, or spiritually – we stand at a crossroads.

We have the choice between the dark, burdensome path of unforgiveness or the Son-drenched, freeing path of forgiveness. The choice really is ours.

As children of the living God, we must believe that the process of eradicating bitter roots is never a hopeless endeavor. Jesus told His disciples in Luke 17:6 that uprooting unforgiveness is possible if a person has the faith of a grain of mustard seed.

In Him is our only hope of freedom from destructive bitterness. Since that gift of hope comes from God (Ephesians 2:8), we have access to an abundant, unlimited supply of the poison’s antidote.

Regardless of how deep the hurt or how long we have let it reside, it is never too late to surrender our unforgiveness to God for permanent eradication.

In God’s hands, the casket maker’s career is short lived.

Bible study on Forgiveness.

Tidbit Thursday: Epiphany Around the World

People around the world are celebrating Epiphany today, January 6th. Meaning “manifestation” in Greek, Epiphany has been celebrated since around 361 A.D.

To Western Christianity, it marks the arrival of the Magi (or Three Kings) to the toddler Jesus in Bethlehem. In Eastern Orthodoxy, Epiphany commemorates Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan River.

Since Epiphany arrives twelve days after Christmas, it is also known as Twelfth Night. People across the globe celebrate it in many interesting ways:

  • In the United States and the United Kingdom, Epiphany marks the day to take down Christmas decorations since many believe that it is bad luck to do so before January 6th.
  • In some Eastern Orthodox countries, Greece, and Bulgaria, priests bless crosses and throw them into frigid waters. Young men dive in after them believing that the first to find the cross will be blessed with good luck for the new year.
  • In Spain, the Philippines, and some Latin American countries, Epiphany is known as “Dia de los Reyes Magos” where Three Kings bring gifts to good boys and girls who leave out their straw-filled shoes the night before. It is traditional to bake a Rosa de Reyes cake and hide a small doll inside that represents the baby Jesus.
  • In Italy, children eagerly await the arrival of a kind, wise witch named “La Befana”, who leaves gifts for them.
  • In Belgium and the Netherlands, Epiphany is called “Drie Koningen.” Children dress as the Three Kings then visit neighbors’ homes to sing songs and receive treats and coins.
  • In Ethiopia, Epiphany is called “Timkat“, where tradition holds that Three Kings brought the Ark of the Covenant to their country. A miniature Ark is placed on the church altar, and they re-enact Jesus’ baptism. Since Ethiopians do not follow the Gregorian calendar, they celebrate two weeks after January 6th.

For Christians, Epiphany – also called the “Thirteenth Day” of Christmas – centers on the visit of the Magi from the East. Epiphany emphasizes the manifestation of God in the flesh of Jesus Christ. Jesus has entered our darkness and shines His true Light (Isaiah 60:1–2).

There is beautiful symbolism in the Magi’s three gifts to Jesus: With gold they confess His royalty; with incense, His deity; and with myrrh, His priestly sacrifice (Matthew 2:11).

As the Magi were guided by the star find and worship the newborn King (Matthew 2:5–11), so God calls us to look to Him to find and worship the Lord (Isaiah 60:3–6).

I pray that we diligently seek Him in 2022, full of His hope, His love, and His light.