“I’m gonna go out on a limb for you.”
If you’re like me, you may have heard those words spoken or implied by someone who took a risk in support of your idea, or, in you. Like many idioms in language, it makes no sense literally and the origin is often lost in history. Sometimes the application in life is a paradox.
Someone I esteem is going out on a branch in support for me, yet I need to support their weight so the branch doesn’t break.
Many times that trust is the tool needed to inspire and energize. But, sometimes that trust is too big, too heavy to hold, or in the wrong season of life and the branch breaks from the weight of another’s expectation.
One night I heard a crash outside my bedroom window and rushed outside in the frozen winter night to see that many of the branches on my neighbors’ tree broke from the weight of the ice. Here in Salem Oregon, we don’t get many ice storms and this tree could not bear the weight of the ice. The broken branches hung down, held on to the trunk with the last shred of bark like a noose around a dead man’s neck.
The hanging tree is more than a concept made popular by Katniss Everdeen. In American history, it was a form of legal execution in many states. Sadly, many noble old trees became instruments of murder and suicide.
This month we head towards Good Friday. Two people, in particular, hung from a tree that week. Judas and Jesus.
Judas put his trust in a false expectation of who he thought Jesus should be or do. When Jesus did not do what Judas wanted or expected he betrayed him. Afterward, when Judas was sorry for what he did he returned the blood money but it was too late. He knew that Jesus would be executed and he acted again on a false assumption that there was no hope. He hung himself. If only he had waited three days. He would have seen a risen Christ.
Jesus also hung on an object made by a tree. He chose to die on the cross to pay the price for sin. He did not come to Earth to defeat Roman rule, but to conquer death, and make a way for salvation.
- Galatians 3:13: “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:”
- 1 Peter 2:24: “Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.”
When I think of the events that lead up to Good Friday I think of the hanging tree that Judas turned to in his time of desperation and guilt. In Acts 1:18-20 it says that Judas fell and his body broke open and showed gruesome results of his suicide. The branch broke from his dead weight.
If Judas would have waited and turned to Jesus, the one who died and rose again, he would have been forgiven. He went out on a limb for 30 pieces of silver and lost.
How many time do I think that Jesus must be or do based on a false image of who he is? Do I lose faith because He doesn’t do my bidding? Is the Jesus I follow still on the cross or has he risen in power?
I have often put expectations on myself that I couldn’t bear. Times when I have boasted of some plan, resolution or idea only to overestimate my ability and underestimate the task. I would go out on the limb for my pride, only to have the branch break. If I forget that “Sunday” is coming, I could be overwhelmed with the broken pieces of life.
I don’t want to be like Judas. I must not stop with a Good Friday mindset of hopelessness, making it a dead end. Sunday is coming.
We may all have hanging trees in our life, but I know that my Saviour Lives and He is not shaken over the broken branches in my life.