The dogwood tree with its beautiful flowers has always been a spring favorite of mine. A few years ago I shared an arrangement of the blossoms with a bible study group of senior citizens at the local assisted living. They so appreciated the opportunity to view the flowers up close, and while we sat in awe, I shared the legend that has developed around Christ’s crucifixion and the dogwood tree.
Legend has it that at the time of the crucifixion the dogwood tree grew to the size of an oak. The tree was so strong that it was chosen as the timber of the cross. To be used for such a cruel purpose greatly distressed the tree, and Jesus, nailed upon it, sensed this. In His gentle pity for all sorrow and suffering, He said, “Never again shall the dogwood tree grow large enough to be used as a cross. Henceforth it shall be slender and bent and twisted and its blossoms shall be in the form of a cross …Two long and two short petals. In the center of the outer edge of each petal, there will be nail prints, brown with rust and stained in red, and in the center of the flowers will be a crown of thorns, and all who see it will remember.”
Of course, Christ never said this and we doubt that dogwood was used to make the cross since it was not mentioned in biblical times. Please keep in mind that a legend is defined as an unverifiable story handed down by tradition. Most sources think it was actually made of olive wood, cedar of Lebanon, or cypress. I share the story with you though, because it causes me to think of Christ’s death on the cross every time I see a dogwood tree. In its beauty I am reminded of the gift given by Christ Jesus, His very life, in order to pay the ultimate sacrifice for our sin debt in full. How blessed we are!
Thank you, Father God, for the gift of your Son. May the tree always remind me of Your love, His love, and the blood that was shed on the cross for all who believe. In His precious Holy Name, I pray. Amen