High in the Wasatch Mountains of Utah stands a magnificent aspen forest. If you could visit that place today, you would be amazed by the beauty and abundance of life beneath that golden canopy. What would be less obvious is that what appears to the eye as a massive forest is, in reality, just one tree. That's right: one tree. At the center of that forest stands a particularly ancient tree that researchers have dubbed "Pando"—a Latin word meaning "I spread." Over the ages, Pando spread out its roots across a span of more than 100 acres. It sent up more than 47,000 individual offshoots. Each of these shoots became a new spire reaching toward the heavens, a new crown of leaves moving to the wind, a new sanctuary for the creatures who find life beneath Pando's sheltering arms. Many regard Pando as the world's most massive living entity.
But that honor truly belongs to Another. Following his crucifixion, the body of Jesus was taken down from the cross, prepared for burial and laid in a tomb like a seed in the ground (Luke 23:50-56). Fearing that his disciples might try to steal the corpse and propagate the myth of his resurrection, the local religious leaders went to the Roman governor, Pilate, and convinced him to secure the grave. Pilate ordered the tomb sealed and an armed detail posted at the entrance to guard against any possible invasion (Matthew 27:62-66). What no human authority anticipated, however, was that the source of invasion would not be from outside the tomb but from within it.
As Jesus had promised, his seed had fallen to the ground and died. It was now about to rise up again and spread out into the world with a power and productivity no human eye could yet see (John 12:23-34).
On Easter morning, the disciples went to the tomb and found the guards gone, the stone rolled away and the corpse of Jesus missing. The grave clothes in which they'd wrapped his body now lay on the ground like an empty seed casing. To their utter shock, they met the "dead" man, now clearly alive in a way that recast forever their understanding of Life and proved the reliability of all that Jesus had taught them (Luke 24).
Over the next 40 days, Jesus appeared to his followers at many times and places, in a manner that seemed designed to demonstrate conclusively that this was no hallucination (1 Corinthians 15:1-8). Jesus continued to teach his disciples about the kingdom that God sought to bring forth on the earth (Acts 1:3). Finally, Jesus told them that it was time for him to leave them, but gave the assurance that they would not be left alone. Christ promised to send his Holy Spirit to them and that this Spirit would supply them with all they needed to accomplish the next stage of God's purposes in history. "Do not leave Jerusalem," he said, "but wait for the gift my Father promised" (Acts 1:4).
The disciples were filled (as we often are) with misgivings (Acts 1:6). They saw a world in need of such dramatic change and could not imagine how the work of Christ could go on without him walking next to them.
But Jesus clarified his plan even further. He said, "You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth" (Acts 1:8). You will become the body through which I now live on earth. You will be the ones through whom I draw the world to myself. I will supply you with the power to accomplish my purposes.