“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God” (Revelation 2:7).
IN A SENSE, THE THING WE’RE LOOKING FOR IN THIS WORLD IS THE THING THAT WAS LOST IN EDEN. And what God has in store for us beyond this world is described in terms that hark back to the original Garden: “To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.”
Beyond our longing for many other things, it is really “life” that we long for. And though we cling to biological life as if it were our most prized possession, what we really desire is something more: we long to be alive spiritually. Jesus Christ claimed to be the Giver of life on that level. “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).
When Adam and Eve sinned, desiring to know all that God knew, even if they had to disobey Him to get that knowledge, they were expelled from Eden and their access to the Tree of Life was cut off (Genesis 3:22–24). As the long years of their mortality wound down, they surely must have regretted their decision many times. And we, their heirs, should be warned: our own quest for knowledge is a poor substitute for the life that we have lost. Lord Byron’s lines were never more true than today: “Sorrow is knowledge: they who know the most / Must mourn the deepest o’er the fatal truth, / The Tree of Knowledge is not that of Life.”
Yet through the gospel of Jesus Christ, we can have all that the word “life” was ever meant to convey. And the amazing thing is, the life that is available to us right now in Christ is, at its very best, only a foretaste of the fuller life that awaits us. That life is what we’re reaching for, straining toward it with every ounce of our strength. And the confident, powerful hope of that life releases us from the fear of letting go of this life — for to the faithful Christian, physical death has become the door to real life, that which is life indeed. “Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage” (Hebrews 2:14,15).
“He who lives to live forever, never fears dying” (William Penn).