Oaks of righteousness will have the strength to withstand prevailing tempests

Hope Church, Pine Hill. PHOTO: PETER MCINTOSH
Hope Church, Pine Hill. PHOTO: PETER MCINTOSH
We get buffeted and blown around by the storms of life, but oaks of righteousness have deep roots Stu Crosson writes.

Last Sunday Hope Church celebrated our first Easter in our new premises in Pine Hill.

Since February we have been worshipping in the previously named St Mark’s building which we bought last year from the Presbyterian church. What a joy this was.

On Good Friday we reflected on Jesus’ death on the cross. On Easter Sunday in the morning, we celebrated the central truth of Christianity; that Jesus was raised from the dead and then on Sunday night we held a baptism service for three of our people who have come to believe that Jesus is Lord of all.

The Bible uses different images to help us understand the significance of Jesus’ death and resurrection; one metaphor is the image of a seed falling to the ground, to be reborn into a new plant.

I love the biblical imagery of the acorn turning into a giant oak tree. I picked up an acorn last week in Jubilee Park as my wife and I were walking our dog there and we both marvelled at the profound potential wrapped up in a tiny acorn.

There is wonderful passage in the prophet Isaiah that speaks about becoming oaks of righteousness. It begins: "The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the broken hearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion."

Early in Jesus’ ministry he applied these words to himself. If ever there was a time for it to be revealed in both Dunedin and in Israel, it is today.

The church of God sees her calling to be a part of this ministry. Binding up the broken hearted, proclaiming freedom for the captives and prisoners and proclaiming good news to the poor. Jesus conquering death lies at the heart of this good news.

The passage wonderfully goes on to say that the people of God who embrace this word of truth will be called oaks of righteousness.

The beauty of an oak tree is that they can withstand the storms. Their roots go down deep so that when other trees get flattened, the mighty oak stands strong.

That is true of the person who has accepted the truth of Jesus into their heart by faith. We might get buffeted and blown around by the storms of life but our roots have gone deep into God’s word and so we don’t fear these storms. We know God can and does sustain us through the storms of life.

If we think about the message of Easter for a moment. The world threw its worst at Jesus: he was betrayed, he was mocked, he was beaten, he was deserted by his friends, he was falsely accused and then he was nailed to a Roman cross to die in the most horrific way possible — but God would not let him go.

God ordained that the death and resurrection of his Son was the only means of our rescue. The basis upon which we could be forgiven and brought back into a right relationship with God. That’s how we become oaks of righteousness by saying yes to Jesus and no to ourselves and our sin.

On the third day after his death the scriptures record how Jesus appeared to several women and then the other disciples. He commissioned them to proclaim the good news, and to baptise other believers into the love, grace and power of God (Father, Son and Spirit).

Last Sunday night Hope Church did just that with three new believers who have come to trust Jesus as their Lord, getting baptised. Their lives have been radically changed by the power of God revealed in Jesus and are on their way to becoming oaks of righteousness.

If you find yourself in a dark place, struggling to find your purpose in life and failing to make sense of your current situation, then let me encourage you to consider Jesus.

There is an old chorus that says: "Because he lives, I can face tomorrow. Because he lives all fear is gone. Because I know he holds the future, life is worth the living, just because He lives."

You may feel like a fragile, insignificant acorn right now, but when you place your life into the loving arms of Jesus, you will grow to become a mighty oak tree — an oak of righteousness no less.

■ Rev Stu Crosson is the Senior Minister of Hope Church, Dunedin.