The pitted dirt road jostled the muddy pick-up truck as it made its way through the narrow rows of Florida orange trees. Years in the sweltering sun and heavy rains had aged the white truck as much as its driver.
Putting the truck in park next to a young orange tree and creaking open the door, Jerry carted over the necessary equipment. Studying the tender trunk of the chosen tree, Jerry’s expert eyes surveyed where the grafting procedure would take place.
With one weathered hand holding the lower trunk and the other hand firmly gripping a sharp blade, Jerry began removing some upper branches of the young tree. Though the roots and trunk of this particular tree were healthy and strong, Jerry knew this rootstock would not produce an impressive orange harvest when it was full grown. Because of that weakness, some of the scion (upper portion) of the tree was being removed by Jerry’s sharp blade. In the cut places, healthy branches from another orange tree would be grafted on.
Jerry brought over freshly cut branches from another young tree in the orange grove. These branches came from a breed that faithfully produced superior oranges. The fruit from this other tree would be sweet, juicy, and bountiful.
With a farmer’s tenderness, Jerry tightly bound the new scion to the original rootstock with grafting tape. Then gathering up his tools, Jerry climbed back into the driver’s seat after tossing the worthless tree branches from the original tree into the bed of the truck. The dead branches would be added to the growing wood pile out back to be used for the family’s bonfire that weekend.
A wound is made to the original plant.
God created Adam out of the dirt. Noah was chosen among the sinful men roaming the earth. Abram was called out of a pagan land. Isaac was brought to life in a dusty womb. Moses was tasked with leading the Sons of Israel to a land of promise. David was chosen to be king and his lineage was promised to endure forever.
Over and over, God’s blessing rested upon a people He had chosen to love. Like a mother hen, His protective wings sheltered the love of His heart from destruction and death.
In spite of their holy legacy, God’s people eventually despised their Creator, Rescuer, and King. Through the prophet Jeremiah, God sent His people a scathing message:
“Your ways and your deeds have brought this upon you. This is your doom, and it is bitter; it has reached your very heart. For my people are very foolish; they know me not; they are stupid children; they have no understanding. They are ‘wise’ in doing evil! But how to do good they know not.” (Jer. 4:18 and 22)
In His anger at their rebellion of heart, God brought utter destruction to the nation of Israel.
The scion is bound to the wounded part of the rootstock.
Though the nation was laid to utter waste, a remnant and a future hope remained. God would not abandon the covenant He had made with His people. Though his people failed, God would not falter. Hope was coming.
The prophet Isaiah foretold:
“In that day the root of Jesse, who shall stand as a signal for the peoples – of him shall the nations inquire and his resting place shall be glorious. In that day the Lord will extend his hand yet a second time to recover the remnant that remains of his people.” (Is. 11:10-11a)
Callus tissues form a bridge to connect the scion to the rootstock.
The Promised One came. Through his death and resurrection, Jesus crushed the power of death under his heel. The path to victory was painful. Jesus was rejected, betrayed, mocked, beaten, and nailed to a cross to die wreathed in humiliation.
As he cried out a final breath, the earth quaked and the temple’s inner curtain was ripped in two. The thick veil that separated man from the innermost sanctuary of the Most High had been torn down. Jesus created a way for sinful men and women of every nation to bow in faultless purity before the holy throne of God.
Genealogy no longer mattered. All peoples had equal access to become “fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God.” (Eph. 2:19)
The rootstock provides nutrients to the scion. The scion produces food in its leaves to send to the rootstock.
The Root of Jesse had become the vine.
Foretold in a garden covenant, whispered on a starry night, shadowed in a thousand sacrifices, promised to a king, the son of God was born to an Israelite virgin. Jesus came to give life.
“I am the true vine,” Jesus exclaimed 2000 years ago. “Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit.” (Jn. 15: 1, 5) Like a vine nourishes its branches, so the Son of God gives generously to his people: spiritual gifts, freedom from sin, and eternal salvation. Just as nourished branches bear much fruit, so too should the people of God produce a wealth of good deeds through the power of their Savior.
A warning shot was issued in the same breath. “My Father is the vinedresser,” Jesus soberly informed his people. “If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers, and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.” (Jn. 15:1, 6) Like the exacting farmer demanding a lush harvest from the grove he meticulously tends, so too the Heavenly Father expects to see spiritual fruit and holy worship manifested in His children.
Now one complete tree is created. The roots are strong, and the fruit is bountiful.
God will always call a people unto Himself. The root today is the same as it was in the beginning. Christ’s arms nailed open wide welcomed people from all tribes and nations into his purifying embrace. It is a privilege and a blessing to be called a child of God.
Just as God chose the patriarchs of old, God chose you. From the beginning of time, God had your name written on His heart. Welcome to the one family of God!
About the Author:
Heather was an imaginative, competitive tomboy growing up in the city of Miami. She spent many barefoot days with her younger brother hunting dinosaurs, building forts, transforming robots, and sending Barbie on archaeological digs. In 2000, Heather not only married the most handsome man in the church choir, but also graduated with a degree in elementary education from the University of Miami. Now a contented resident of North Carolina, Heather enjoys homeschooling her children, sneaking treats to the pet guinea pigs and rabbits, and stealing dates with her husband at the grocery store (the one place their children never want to go). Heather is the author of “Little Pillars,” a curriculum that teaches preschoolers the doctrines of The Lord’s Prayer, Apostles’ Creed, and 10 Commandments. You can hang out with Heather on Instagram at @Heather Molendyk.