Sakura and the Hope of a Savior
Aven and I just recently returned from a two week scouting trip to Japan. I will write something of a report about our trip later because we first need some time to process and think through what we experienced. However, I wanted to share one story now.
The blooming of Sakura (Cherry Blossom) trees in Japan is a very special time. Millions of people across the country join in on the festivities, enjoying the beauty of these flowers and participating in “Hanami” picnic parties held under the trees. When we were there the blossoms where just starting to open and even then people were gathering and taking photos, anticipating the beauty of these wonderful trees.
To give you an idea of how excited Japanese people get about Sakura you really need to watch the weather forecast on Japanese television. The man in the box (see picture below, a feature on every Japanese show) Goes wild with excitement as the weatherman shows where Sakura has started to bloom. (They start in the south and move north)
Also, everything in the shops begin to take on the theme of cherry blossoms. Even Starbucks Coffee has a special drink to celebrate the Sakura.
All this to say; Japan loves Cherry Blossoms, they not just fond of it, its part of what makes Japan…Japan. Stay with me, this story DOES have a point 🙂
During our stay in Tokyo we were hosted by a wonderful South African couple. On one of the nights Aven joined in for their midweek Bible study, held in their home. (I was unfortunately sick in bed, got hit with flu on the second last day of our trip). The topic was the resurrection of Jesus and Aven was content to simply sit in and listen. However, one Japanese lady struggled to understand how people in the Old Testament could be saved if the resurrection happened after their time. After more explanation regarding Old Testament sacrifices and trusting in a future sacrifice she still did not understand. Aven prayed that God will help her with a simple way of explaining to this lady and right then she noticed a rose on the coffee table and it made her think…SAKURA!!! And we were there at the right time because the blossoms were just starting to bud. Aven explained that just like people look forward to the Sakura blossoms people in the Old Testament looked forward to the Messiah by faith. Everyone in Japan believes the Sakura will blossom, it’s just a matter of time. Christians in the Old Testament looked forward with that same sense of anticipation. The sweet gospel of Jesus coming into full bloom at his death and resurrection. We really wanted God to use us in some way while on this trip and not just do investigation. I believe God has and this is one of the wonderful ways. After this simple illustration, the lady nodded that she understood!
But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.Galatians 4:4-5