In medieval Europe, Plays were performed throughout the year based on the lives of Bible characters. December 24 was declared Adam and Eve’s Day and the setting of this day’s drama was the Garden of Eden. Remember what happened? The serpent tempted Eve to disobey God and eat the forbidden fruit. And she did. The play ended with God sending Adam and Eve out of paradise as a consequence of their sin.
There was only one minor problem in staging this drama: finding a fruit tree in winter! Some Renaissance stage director must have discovered that with a little smoke and mirrors, he could turn a pine tree strung with apples into the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. This “costumed” tree delighted the audience an become the star of the show.
The decorated evergreen delighted audiences, even upstaging the actors. Years after the medieval plays were no longer performed, German families continued to decorate their own evergreens with shiny red apples on December 24 and call them ‘paradise trees.”
Through the years, the decorations became more and more elaborate. Mothers hid gingerbread cookies in the branches. Nuts dipped in sugar were nestled among the pine needles. Fruits an vegetables formed from marzipan candy hung from the boughs. The family Christmas tree become so sugar-coated, it was often appropriately referred to as the “sugar tree.”
But no matter how sweet the treats, the most important ornaments were tiny round wafers of bread hidden among the other decorations. These thin biscuits represented forbidden fruit, through which death entered the world, were signs of Jesus Christ, the One who gives us eternal life.
As we decorated our Christmas tree we should be reminded of Romans 5:19- ” Because one person [Adam] disobeyed God, many people became sinners. But because One other person [Jesus] obeyed God, many people will be made right in God’s sight.”
As we can clearly see, one person’s [Jesus Christ] choice to obey GOD has within it the seed to bless all of mankind. This gift is freely given but has to be accepted by each soul.
What gifts might your choice to obey God on even deeper levels produce in your relationship with God, and in terms of blessings for yourself and others? Obedience is better than sacrifice!
1.What thoughts and images come to mind when you think of the word obedience?
2.Decide together what you believe is the best definition for the word obedience.
3.Discuss how the following verses relate to obedience. Take a fresh look at each passage, searching especially for (a) God’s commands and standards to keep, (b) someone’s example to learn from, (c) a promise from God to believe, (d) a warning to heed, or (e) a challenge to face.
·Genesis 12:1-4·Exodus 19:5; 23:20-33·Joshua 11:15·1 Samuel 15:22-23·Ezra 7:10·Psalms 25:10; 40:8;119:56-60·Matthew 12:50· Luke 17:7-10; 22:41-42· John 13:15; 14:15,23·Acts 5:29· Hebrews 10:26-29·James 1:19-27·1 John 5:2-3
4.What vital, fundamental principles can you see in these passages (principles which are consistent with other Scriptures you know)?
5.Finally, answer these questions, especially in light of what you’ve observed in the passages above: (a) What does God want me to understand most about Himself? (b) What does God want me to understand most about others? (c) What does God want me to understand most about myself? And in light of all this, what would He have me do?
RESOURCES: The Adventure of Christmas, by Lisa Whelchel and The Complete Bible Discussion Guide: New Testament, © 1993 by Questar Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved.)