Back in our seminary days, we often stopped by the seminary book store after lunch. My first year there, I noticed one of the hundreds of books for sale. It was entitled: All The Plants Of The Bible. My second year it was still sitting there on the shelf.
My third year I left to be a vicar. When I returned for my fourth and final year, there it was, gathering dust.
“Who in their right mind would buy it?” we joked. Some poor soul had way too much time on his hands – All the Plants of the Bible?
I still don’t think I would buy it. But I do increasingly understand how one could gather enough material for the book.
From the hyssop plant that the Israelites used to paint the blood of the Passover lamb on their doorframes (the same plant stalk used to lift a drink to the lips of our dying Savior) – to the grape vineyards, olive groves, fig trees and kernels of wheat in farmers’ fields which peppered the parables of Jesus – the Bible uses the imagery of plants, gardens and fields quite often.
“I am the Vine, ye are the branches…” said Jesus to His disciples on the night He went forth to Gethsemane.
Yet, as Isaiah, Zechariah, and today’s gem from Jeremiah tells us, Christ Himself is “a righteous Branch,” springing up when everything seems dead and lifeless.
“Behold, a Branch is growing,” says the old Christmas hymn of the Savior’s coming into the world.
On Palm Sunday, the multitudes were waving palm branches …tokens of celebration and the royal victory of the coming King.
So it is with the scene in heaven portrayed by St. John in the 7th chapter of Revelation: “They were holding palm branches in their hands…” What a victory parade that will be!