(*A link to all chapters is provided at the end of this article.)
THE TREE OF LIFE
Jesus said: “Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God” (Luke 18:25).
“He must become greater; I must become less” (John the Baptist, John 3:30).
The True Guide – The Good Shepherd and his sheep – The True Gate
“Very truly I tell you Pharisees, anyone who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.”
Jesus used this figure of speech, but the Pharisees did not understand what he was telling them. Therefore Jesus said again, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them. I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved [or kept safe]. They will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”
Do you remember the Scripture passage mentioning Joshua in the very first chapter? Joshua represents a type of Jesus in the Old Testament. The similarity between these verses attests to the fact. We have here a true prophecy announcing the coming and ministry of the Lord Jesus.
In Numbers 27:15-18 Moses told the people: “May the LORD, the God who gives breath to all living things, appoint someone over this community to go out and come in before them, one who will lead them out and bring them in, so the LORD’s people will not be like sheep without a shepherd.’ So the LORD said to Moses, ‘Take Joshua the son of Nun, a man in whom is the Spirit, and lay your hand on him.‘”
Next morning early, after breakfast, Theophilus took leave of his newfound friend, thanking him for his kind hospitality.
Thus, day after day, he encountered Joshua’s brothers who helped him recover from his ordeal. His sight was improving and his hope to finally get out of the desert gave him an increase in courage and a new direction towards a definite goal. He was eager to meet this Master who caused the blind to see and healed the hardened hearts.
One shared his light, the other the coolness of his shade. Another listened to him patiently and attentively. All gave of what they had received with gladness and unselfishness. The peace that ruled in their hearts, the words of wisdom and encouragement, the fidelity to their beloved Master went beyond any human value that he had known in his world.
He learned that his name meant “friend of God.” What a contrast with the life that he had lived until now!
One night after an interesting conversation, he had a very different dream from those that usually haunted his conscience. He found himself, unconscious, almost dead in an operating room, surrounded by a team of nurses in white coats.
Next to him, another man about thirty years old was lying on another table just beside him with an intravenous needle in his arm. A tube connected another needle inserted in his arm. The blood in the man’s arm was turning into a liquid light when going into his vein, washing his heart that started beating again. His brain became filled with the light that was spreading throughout all the parts of his being through the system of arteries and veins irrigating his lifeless body. A breath filled his chest and he opened his eyes.
The Tree of Life
Theophilus woke up with tears of joy flowing from his eyes. He was watching an unforgettable scene.
There, in front of him, stood up a Joshua tree, majestic and radiant that bore an uncanny resemblance with the man from his dream whose blood had saved his life. He fell down, prostrate on his face against the hot desert sand. He knew without the shadow of a doubt that he was in the presence of the Master of the Joshua Trees. He didn’t dare move from his position, such was the power emanating from the glorious appearance. An indescribable ripple of fear coursed through his being.
“Rise, Theophilus and look at me.” The commanding tone of voice was enough to make him obey. He was reluctant at first to lift his gaze directly into the eyes of the Master. Lifting his head up slowly, he saw the pierced feet, then, the pierced wrists. He gathered enough courage to focus on the chest where a scarlet wound in the shape of the tip of a lance or the eye of a needle remained from a cruel wound.
“Don’t be afraid; look at me. I am Yeshua, the Master of the Joshua Trees. What is your quest? Why do you want to meet me?”
While the Master was asking these questions, his eyes whispered softly words Theophilus never heard before, words of love that penetrated deep in his heart.
“Master, I am looking for the desert exit door. Your trees told me that you possess the keys and that a word from you can set the captives free, can give sight to the blind, make a poor man rich, and heal the afflicted. You can also give knowledge to the ignorant who think they are wise, and you can clothe with your pardon and righteousness the nakedness which I try to cover with my religion and good deeds.”
“It’s true. But you have too big a notion of yourself to be able to go through this door. First, you must answer a few questions.”
“Yes, master, as you wish.”
“What is your name? Who are you?”
“Well, before, they called me Theophilus, but I will accept whatever name you wish to call me.”
“Where do you come from?”
“From the land of deadly illusions and appearances, a world filled with violence and deception.”
“Good; are you rich, or do you intend to be?”
“Well, before now, I had credit cards, bank accounts, a good and profitable business, cars, a beautiful house, but all that didn’t help me very much. To tell you the truth, I will accept whatever you want to give me.”
After these answers, Theophilus was feeling his body shrink little by little. What a strange sensation!
The Master continued: “What about your reputation?”
“Alas, people looked at the appearances. But I can see that you know me, and I desire to become what you want me to be.”
“What do you hope to gain from me?”
“Freedom from the chains that keep me tied up and hinder my walk, understanding truth and knowing which way to go.”
“Good; I can do that for you. But what will you do once you are free if I give you the key to the door?”
“Master, I want to belong to you and serve you, for you are the one who saved and healed me.”
Each of Theophilus’ responses was followed by a change in his size until, at last, the Master’s stature appeared gigantic in comparison without overwhelming him. Then, the Master bent forward; and catching him tenderly in the palm of his right hand, he lifted Theophilus up to his chest and hugged him close against the wound shaped like the tip of a lance or like the eye of a big needle.
On his way up, Theophilus was helplessly watching on the screen of his memory the video from his first meeting with the touchstone at the crossroad of his destiny, the first step of a stairway which led to the royal capital of the heavenly kingdom, illumined by the eternal light. He possessed a law of gravity defying lightness, with no desire to resist the attraction propelling him towards a universe of unconditional freedom. Being transported on this celestial stairway, this bridge between two worlds without any effort on his part, he was about to enter a territory invisible to the human eye and yet so real.
Instantly, going through the open door at a breathtaking speed, Theophilus found himself standing on the desert floor that he had just left.
“Welcome to the kingdom,” announced the Master in a warm tone of voice. “Open your eyes and look at yourself.”
His eyes opened by the voice of his Master, Theophilus looked at his legs, his trunk, his arms and discovered that he had turned into a Joshua tree with soft scars in the place of the usual armor of thorns. Yeshua spoke to him solemnly:
“From now on your name will be Joshua Theophilus O’Call because I called you to my service and you responded with good will.”
Tears of joy mixed with gratitude flowing from his eyes, Theophilus answered:
“Master, where do you want me to serve you?”
“Right here in the desert to help guide those who have lost their way or those who have wandered from the way of truth and need help in finding me.”
“Yes, Master. But I have a question. How do your trees find food and drink? There is nothing in the desert but inhospitable sand, rocks, vipers, scorpions, a lot of deceiving mirages with here and there a few enduring, beautiful flowers and refreshing oasis as refuges for weary pilgrims.”
Yeshua touched his eyes, and now he could very clearly watch a fantastic scene through the desert floor as if it were made of transparent crystal. From the feet of the Master, roots full of a sap that resembled light amber honey extended all the way under the feet of the Joshua trees and fed them constantly night and day.
“Please, Master, what do you want me to call you?”
“Call me Lord Jesus, for I am both Savior and King.”
“Lord, I can see the trees, the roots, the leaves and the cactus flowers, but where are the fruits?”
“Every time one of my servants extended to you love, kindness, goodness and patience, they shared their fruits with you. When you enjoyed their light, their protective and refreshing shade, their peace, their wise words of counsel, comfort or encouragement, those are the fruits that grow from the source of life that I give each one of them.”
“Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever” (Revelation 22:1-5).
“This is what the LORD says:
‘Cursed is the one who trusts in man,
who draws strength from mere flesh
and whose heart turns away from the LORD.
That person will be like a bush in the wastelands;
they will not see prosperity when it comes.
They will dwell in the parched places of the desert,
in a salt land where no one lives.
But blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD,
whose confidence is in him.
They will be like a tree planted by the water
that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
and never fails to bear fruit.
The heart is deceitful above all things
and beyond cure.
Who can understand it?
I the LORD search the heart
and examine the mind,
to reward each person according to their conduct,
according to what their deeds deserve'” (Jeremiah 17:5-10).
Dear reader, if you have been touched by this allegory and can identify in some way with Theophilus, I invite you to meet the Lord Jesus, the Savior of fallen humanity, the One who has the key to the Kingdom of God, the One who is the Door that leads to true freedom, to the knowledge of the Truth, to Life abundant and eternal and the only Way to the Heavenly Father. Without Truth we cannot know the Way to the Door of the kingdom and to the Life in Jesus, without whom we are reduced to a mere existence without hope.
To hear the “The Joshua Tree” eBook on audio (1 hour and 12 minutes), go to:
*All Chapters 1-5 can be read at this link after an introduction by Jean-Louis: https://thelightseed.blogspot.com/2011/02/joshua-tree-desert-parable.html