Legend has it that there was one forest in Israel that was valued above all others for its many dogwood trees with thick trunks and fine, strong wood. When the Romans came to rule over Jerusalem, their governors used this same timber to build the crosses for executing criminals. One day, Pontius Pilate put out a special order; “The King of the Jews is going to be put to death. Build an extra-large cross made from your best wood.” So the carpenters hurried to the forest and cut down the biggest, best tree they could find. Later that day, Jesus of Nazareth was crucified on that very cross.
Three days after Jesus’ crucifixion, the carpenters went out to the forest to gather more wood to make new crosses. Imagine their surprise when they discovered that all of their tall, beautiful trees were rotting and useless! No one knew why this was happening and there was nothing they could do to stop it! Because the forest was rotting and useless, the carpenters had to search for new trees to use for their crosses.
Several years later, the chief carpenter heard that many people were going to visit the old forest every spring. Out of curiosity, he decided to go and see what the attraction in a dead forest was. He saw the remains of the forest with its rotting tree stumps, but there was something else. As he drew closer, he could make out thousands of beautiful flowering bushes! With disgust, he wondered how anyone could make something out of the twisted wood of the shrubs. Little did he know that he was viewing a miracle of God!
On the cross, Jesus felt the sadness of the wood that it was being used for such a cruel purpose. Out of his infinite kindness, Jesus told the dogwood “Because of your distress, never again shall the Dogwood grow strong enough to be used as a cross. From now on, its wood will be warped and twisted and its purpose shall be for beauty instead of pain.” Its flowers are in the shape of a cross; there are dark discolorations on each petal, as if blood- or rust-stained; and at the center is a crown of thorns to remind us of the suffering Jesus went through on the cross. So now the Dogwood tree serves as a reminder to all who see it of God’s mercy and love toward all living things, as well as a beautiful message of hope, for Jesus was not defeated by the cross, but rose again on the third day!
Though this is just legend, we still view the Dogwood tree each spring around Easter time as a beautiful reminder of Jesus’s sacrifice. As these trees begin to bloom around Atlanta, The Family Tree staff want to wish everyone a happy, healthy spring!