I wiped the tears away as they fell from my eyes. With every passing minute, the itching and watering eyes was making my effort to see as I drove more difficult. “Achoo.” Great, now the sneezing is starting. “Achoo…..achoo…..achoo…..”
I was driving in the Texas Hill Country. It was a hot day in February. The air conditioning in the car wasn’t working and I had my car windows open. The Mountain Cedar was doing its thing.
It grows naturally and is the most allergenic tree in Central Texas. The Mountain Cedar (MC) is an evergreen tree with grey-brown shredding bark; it grows to a maximum height of approximately 30 feet on the limestone plateaus of central Texas, and in smaller favorable areas of Texas, New Mexico, northern Mexico, Arkansas, and Oklahoma. The Junipers have male and female plants. At the ends of its scale like leaves, the male tree proliferates numerous reddish-brown cones 3 to4 mm in diameter tipped with pollen, while female trees bear fewer 6 – 8 mm diameter dark blue-green berries (cones). The pollens from the male tree appear as some in the air if the branch is physically disturbed.
I could see the dark smoky haze of the male tree’s pollen across the landscape in front of me. I will need to stop at a store and get some allergy medicine before continuing on this journey. “Achoo….”
That was my first personal experience with the Mountain Cedar tree. Several times since then I have encountered the Mountain Cedar. Every time, I have a reaction.
It’s like Jesus.
Time and time again in God’s word we see people as they encounter Jesus react.
As the story is written in the book of Mark, “as a young man was setting out on his journey, he ran up to him and knelt before him and asked, ‘Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?’” Jesus responded by asking a question and then making a statement. “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.” Jesus went on to reference some of the Ten Commandments, speaking each one to the young man. The young man responded right away with verbal affirmation that he had kept those commandments since he was young. “Looking at him, Jesus felt a love for him,” and gave him a directive to go and sell all he had and give to the poor. The young man, turning away, with shoulders slumped and head down departs from Jesus.
We don’t know if the Rich Young Ruler pondered those words of Jesus and came to a conclusion different than his original reaction. But this we know. An encounter with Jesus caused a reaction.
In another instance, “As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth.” His disciples were with him and they began to question Jesus. They thought his blindness was the result of the sin of the man or his parents. As Jesus responded, we see neither was the case. Jesus’ answer indicates that because of the man’s blindness God’s works would be revealed.
Spitting on the ground, Jesus mixes his saliva with the dirt and makes some mud. Taking some of that mud in his hand, he reaches up and covers the blind man’s eyes with it, telling him to, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam.”
“So the man went and washed and came home seeing.” An encounter with Jesus caused a reaction.
At dawn one day, Jesus appeared in the temple courts. Many people gathered around to hear him teach. Some of the religious folk of that day brought in a woman who had been caught in adultery. Making verbal reference to the Law of Moses that would have demanded stoning this woman for her sin, they ask Jesus, “Now, what do you say?”
Jesus bent down and began writing in the ground with his finger. Finished he stood up. Looking at them he said “Let any of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again, he bent down to the ground and wrote. This sparked a reaction, as one by one they began to leave, first the older ones, then the younger ones. When no one was left, Jesus stood up, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
“No one, sir.”
“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
An encounter with Jesus caused a reaction.
Brooks, Dr. Edward G., Cedar: The Allergy Plague of Trees
Accessed 18th April, 2013
Scripture References: NASB Mark 10:17-27, NIV John 9:1-7, NIV John 8:1-11
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