God's Horticulture

Verlyn Verbrugge

READ : Romans 11:17-24

. . . you, a wild olive shoot, were grafted in their place to share the rich root of the olive tree. (v. 17)

Plant grafting is a horticultural process that uses the best of two worlds. You take a shoot from a young, vigorous plant and place it into a slit cut into the trunk or branch of an ordinary plant of the same species that has a healthy root system. The result can be beautiful fruit, sustained by a strong root.

Paul uses this analogy here, but in a reverse mode—actually, “contrary to nature” (v. 24). God has taken a wild plant (the Gentiles) and grafted them into an unpredictable root system (the covenant Jewish people)—and it’s working! The means of grafting is called “faith,” and God has actually broken off some branches so that the Gentiles could be grafted in.

But this gives no reason for boasting on the part of Gentiles over against God’s original people, the Jews. For God can (and will) graft his own people back in again if they believe, and he will break off current church members if they are proud, self-righteous, and fruitless (see John 15:2). God calls all of us to humbly “stand in awe” of his great kindness (v. 20)!


Dear God, I praise you for your love manifest in grafting me as one of your covenant people. Amen.