The Judas Tree

Pike County Spring 560Earlier this spring Rob wrote a blog about dogwoods and noted the legend that associates the dogwood bloom with Jesus’ crucifixion.  Did you realize that there is another beautiful spring tree that also has a legend associated with Jesus’ Passion?  It is the redbud tree.

The redbud tree, which is putting on a magnificent display in the mountains of Kentucky right now, is also known as the Judas tree.  According to the legend, Judas Iscariot used an Old World relative of the redbud to hang himself after betraying Jesus.  The story goes that this is why the tree is now so weak-wooded; it refuses to grow branches strong enough to hang another person.  Another part of the legend says Judas’ act of betrayal caused the tree to blush with embarrassment, turning the normally white flowers to pink.

I love redbud trees and look forward to their blossoms every spring.  For that reason, I don’t like its other name—the Judas tree.  Why should something so beautiful be associated with such a dastardly character?  Of course, I’ve often wondered the same thing when I’ve visited gorgeous examples of God’s Creation and seen names like “Devil’s Tower,” “Dirty Devil River,” and “Devil’s Canyon” attributed to natural features that are actually quite divine. 

redbud 661I guess the only thing I like about the Judas tree legend is that it reminds us that God can make something beautiful out of an ugly situation.  That, in fact, seems to be God’s specialty.  This glorious truth is nowhere presented more clearly than in the death and resurrection of Jesus.  God took the worst thing that could ever have happened and turned it into the best thing that could ever happen.

God’s ability to bring good from bad situations offers hope to us all.  The apostle Paul once said, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him…” (Romans 8:28)  Even in the bad situations of our life we have the assurance  that God will do all He can to bring good from them.  That might be something to think about the next time you see a redbud tree.

–Chuck

(The redbud images included here were taken this week here in Pikeville.)