God removes branches from his tree and adds others to it
In Romans 11 Paul talks about graft. Not political graft but the biological kind. In this case, grafting takes a branch from one tree and attaches it to the stock of another tree. When done correctly the added branch will grow into the trunk of the other tree and will thrive.
Farmers often do this to combine the fruit produced by one tree with the hardy stock of another. In this way they get a resilient tree that yields desirable fruit.
Paul uses this type of grafting as an analogy to teach us about God’s kingdom and us.
Think of God and his people as a tree, with him as the root and us as the branches. Some branches of the tree are unworthy, and he breaks them off. But he also takes branches from other trees and grafts them on. The result is a beautiful hodgepodge of different branches all growing on one tree, God’s tree.
From this Paul makes several points, implicitly about Jews and Gentiles:
- When people reject Jesus, as some Jews did, God will remove them from his tree.
- When people on the outside, Gentiles, accept Jesus, God grafts them onto his tree; he unites with them.
- Just as God grafted Gentile branches onto his tree, even more so can he reattach the Jewish branches he once removed. This is exciting news.
- Last, just as God removed some Jewish branches from his tree, so too will he remove some Gentile branches if they don’t produce fruit.
This analogy gives us much to ponder. It provides hope for all people. But along with it comes a serious responsibility to not take our standing with God for granted and to make sure we produce fruit.