For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life. — John 3:16 (KJV)
“The Passion Tree” tells the greatest story ever told. God’s Word never ends. His story never ends. And we are part of His story! There are a lot of hidden pictures and symbolism to find. See how many you can answer.
- Why is the tree so large in comparison to the people?
- Why is the garland red?
- How many events are depicted from the Old Testament and the New Testament?
- How many lights are on the star at the top of the tree? Why that number? Is there something strange about the crown of thorns at the top of the tree? Why would there be a Golden Crown at the top of the tree?
- Look at the red ornaments on the tree. What do they form?
- How many candles are on the tree? Why that number? Can you see a suggestion of Christ in each flame? What could that symbolize?
- Can you find the map of the world?
- Can you find the reference “John 3:16” hidden in the stars?
The story is told of a man who rejected God for years. His family followed Jesus, and one Christmas Eve while they were at church, something happened that changed his life forever. It was cold and snowy, and while he was sitting in his nice warm home, he heard a thump on his front window. Then there was another, and another. A flock of geese were lost and trying to find a safe place. They were worn out from wandering around in the cold and he wanted to help them, so he ran to his barn and turned on the lights so they would know where to go. But they wouldn’t go in where it was warm, so he tried putting seeds and food along the path to lead them to safety. He even tried to get behind them and shoo them in. But everything He did only scared them more. Finally he gave up, but he was so sad; he thought, “If only I could be like one of them. Then I could show them the way, and they wouldn’t be afraid of me.” Just then he heard the church bells ring, and understood what God had done for him. God came to earth as a tiny baby, Jesus. He became a man just like us to show all of us the Way. This Christmas Day as we give gifts to each other, we’ll offer Him our gifts of praise and honor, and thank Him for His wonderful gift to us. “For God so loved the world that He gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes on Him will not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16
Today's PrayerGod and Father, thank You for loving us and wanting us to know You. Thank You for sending Your Son, Jesus, to give us the way. What a gift! We give gifts to each other today because we want to show our love. How sad we would be if we went to all the trouble of giving a gift to someone and they wouldn’t even take it! Christmas Day shows You have given us the greatest gift of forgiveness and everlasting life. Thank You for Your gift, Jesus!
Today's Activity:Each day of the calendar is a bigger picture of an ornament on “The Passion Tree.” Both tell the story of God’s plan for the world from Genesis to Revelation. Have the children locate their favorite event depicted on the Passion Tree and talk about one thing they learned about that story.
#1 - The Tree - The tree represents the entire message. You’ll notice the tree is scaled much too large for the landscape. This is to illustrate the incomprehensible dimensions of God’s Word and His Plan for us.
Seek & Find Answer to the question above:
#2 - The Red Garland - The red garland that is woven throughout the tree never ends. It connects the ornaments and candles and represents what some have called “the crimson thread.” It symbolizes the blood of Christ. His life is woven through all history from eternity past to eternity future.
#3 - The Story - The story begins in the paintings of the ornaments, starting at the lower left on the tree and chronologically follows the crimson garland coursing to the topper. There are 12 ornaments that show events in the Old Testament and 12 ornaments that illustrate events in the New Testament.
#4 - The Crowns and Star - The red garland continues past the last ornament into the crown of thorns, which is now budding with life because Jesus is alive! At the top of the tree you’ll see a star representing the glory of God. The seven lights remind us of the perfection of God and His seven-fold nature. In the center of the crown of thorns there is a majestic crown that conveys the confident truth that Jesus is coming again and will reign, as KING OF KINGS and LORD OF LORDS, forever and ever.
#5 - Red Ornaments - Down the center of the tree, the red ornaments form a cross. Believing in Jesus and His sacrificial death on the cross is the only way to heaven. The Bible says, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12 NIV
#6 - 33 Candles - There are 33 candles. Jesus was born and walked on earth for 33 years in the form of a man. You can see an image of Christ in each flame, which illustrates the fact that in this dark world, He is the only true Light.
#7 - Map of the World - There are some people under the tree carrying the Light to others who are walking in darkness. The snow-covered landscape suggests a map of the entire globe because this Message is for every person on the face of the earth.
#8 - John 3:16 - The reference is found in the stars next to the Baby Jesus ornament. God loves you and has prepared a way for you to live with Him in heaven!