«Branches were broken off that I might be grafted in» (Romans 11:19).
THE OLIVE TREE is one of the most long-lived trees. Native to the Mediterranean, its cultivation has spread almost everywhere in the world. It does not stand out for its height or beauty, but for its deep, strong, and extended roots, the reason for its survival and production. Over a year, a single plant can yield about sixteen gallons of the best and healthiest of all oils: olive oil.
A parable related in the book of Judges says that the trees decided to choose their king. Which one was chosen first? The olive tree was. Biblical writers used the olive tree figuratively to illustrate God’s love and covenant with His people.
Paul also used the parable of the olive tree to refer to Jews and Gentiles. The most common practice was to graft stems of cultivated plants into trunks of wild plants. Of course, the opposite also happened: wild plant stems were used to be grafted into cultivated plants for the purpose of providing renewed vigor.
That is why Paul said that these are grafts are contrary to nature, that is, doing something that was not normal, since the wild was grafted into the cultivated. Thus, the Gentiles were «grafted» into the Jews. The word «graft» appears six times in this chapter. The graft could combine the strength and resistance of the roots with youthful hardiness in order to achieve a better production.
God has a warning for the grafted so that they will not consider themselves superior to the originals: they were grafted because of their faith. Beware of pride and thinking of grandeur! Instead, they needed to maintain humility and a consistent life.
God treats branches severely that are cut off because of their disbelief. It is the only time in the entire New Testament that this word is used, which means «amputate,» «cut,» and «separate.» God treats grafts that are added because of faith with kindness and meekness. Both goodness for the one who believes and severity for the unbeliever are manifestations of the love of God who always seeks to save and restore.
God is telling us that the fundamental thing is not the original branch or the grafted stem, but the root, since both depend permanently on the root: «Unless they are rooted and grounded in the truth of the Bible and have a living connection with God, many will be infatuated and deceived. Dangers unseen beset our path. Our only safety is in constant watchfulness and prayer. The nearer we live to Jesus, the more will we partake of His pure and holy character; and the more offensive sin appears to us, the more exalted and desirable will appear the purity and brightness of Christ»