I love how the Lord provides for his people in unexpected ways.
Peter doesn’t know where the cash will come from to pay the temple tax, so Jesus tells him to go fishing. He pulls out a fish with a gold coin in its mouth. Another time the disciples tell Jesus to send the crowds away so they can go into the local towns and grab some food. But Jesus comes out of left field again and turns a few fish and rolls into a picnic for thousands.
Three days after the Israelites watch God split the Red Sea and engulf the Egyptian army, they come to a place called Marah (Ex 15:22). Three days and they have yet to find any water. Their lips are cracked and their throats parched. So when they see desert sun glinting on water their hopes soar. But when they run to taste it, it’s brackish. It’s obviously Moses’ fault. He should have done a Google search for the nearest pure watering hole before leaving Egypt. “Hey miracle man, what are we going to drink?” they gripe. They were obviously suffering short term memory loss. Hadn’t God miraculously saved them from Pharaoh just 3 days earlier? How often our first response to any trial is to grumble and plunge into instant unbelief.
Moses does the wisest thing to do when in trouble – he cries out to the Lord. Immediately, God shows Moses a log, or tree (ESV footnote). Moses takes the tree, tosses it into the filthy water, and it becomes not merely drinkable, but sweet!
Approximately 1500 years later God again unexpectedly provides for his people by a tree. When our lives are bitter and brackish with sin, when there is no earthly way to cleanse our putrid souls, God takes his sinless Son and nails him to a tree. A Roman cross, drenched in the blood of Jesus, makes our bitter lives sweet.
“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’” (Ga. 3:13).
Obviously, it isn’t the Roman cross that sweetened our lives, but the One nailed to the tree, taking our bitter curse so he could give us his sweet forgiveness and peace. Praise God for his unsearchable wisdom and unexpected salvation! Praise Jesus for immersing himself in our polluted world and by his death giving us life and sweetness and light.