workers were assigned to to build the crosses
for executing criminals. A group of workers were assigned to gather wood
for the crosses. Before long, every Roman official knew the best
wood came from these gatherers of execution wood, so those workers
||Two thousand years ago, few trees in the Middle
East were not big enough to construct anything. However, one tree
was valued above the others for its thick trunk and fine, strong wood.
When the Romans came to rule over Jerusalem, their government used this
same timber to build the crosses for executing criminals. A
One day, the wood gatherers received
a special request. An officer of the Roman court came and said, "The
King of Jews is to be put to death. Deliver an extra-large cross made from
your finest wood." So, a fresh tree was cut from the forest of the
trees with thick trunks and fine, strong wood. An extra-tall (and
extra-heavy) cross was quickly made and delivered.
Three days after the death of Jesus
of Nazereth, the chief wood gatherer got alarming news. "All of our finest
trees are withering!" the messenger whispered. The wood gatherer hurried
to the forest and saw that it was true.
Several years later, the chief
wood gatherer heard that every spring many people visited the old forest
that had once made his job so easy. Despite his advancing years, he set
out to discover why. He saw the remains of forest, now like
a salty bottoms, with only a few trees still standing tall, baked, lifeless
But what was this? As he
drew closer, his feeble eyes could make out the people walking among
thousands of beautiful, flowering bushes. Seeing one of his own workers
there, the old man said, "No one could ever make a cross out of this twisted
wood. Our finest tree has gone to the dogs!" He noticed the beautiful
white flowers, each blossom looking as if it had been burned from the touch
of a miniature cross.
So...an old and beautiful
legend has it that, at the time of the crucifixion, the dogwood was comparable
in size to the oak tree and other monarchs of the forest. Because of its
firmness and strength it was selected as the timber for the cross, but
to be put to such a cruel use greatly distressed the tree. Sensing
this, the crucified Jesus in his gentle pity for the sorrow and suffering
of all said to it: "Because of your sorrow and pity for My sufferings,
never again will the dogwood tree grow large enough to be used as a gibbet.
Henceforth it will be slender, bent and twisted and its blossoms will 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 with red -- and in the center of the flower will be a
crown of thorns, and all who see this will remember.