You Were Grafted By Grace
5th Sunday of Lent
You Were Grafted by Grace (so)
1. Keep humble
2. Keep connected
3. Keep sharing
Text: Romans 11:11-21
Inosculation. “A natural or surgical joining of parts of branches of tubular structures so as to make or become continuous.” Those of you who know me well, or have seen my yard and my plants, also know that clearly I found that definition on Google. I do not know how to do inosculation and I will not ever attempt to try inosculation. But at least I know what it is.
In layman’s terms, inosculation is grafting. Grafting occasionally happens naturally, but more often is performed by horticulturalists to save a branch. The loose branch is grafted into a branch on the tree and eventually that new branch becomes part of the tree. Did you know there are about 10 different ways or methods of grafting a branch? Neither did I. Thank you again, Google!
Spiritually speaking, there is only one way to be grafted—through Jesus Christ. This morning, in a very complex and deep section of Scripture, the apostle Paul explains that You Were Grafted by Grace.
I may not know much about horticulture, and I may not know much about grafting, but I do know this—it’s not easy. To take a branch that comes from a completely different tree and to make it part of a new tree—and then to keep it alive—that is very difficult.
The people of Israel had it made, so to speak. They were blessed to be God’s chosen people. They were part of the original tree of God’s people. They had the patriarchs like Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as their roots. They were fed, nourished, and cared for by the Lord. Everything a tree would need to thrive and flourish, they had from the Lord.
Yet stubbornly and sinfully many didn’t want to be part of the tree. You can almost hear the pain in Paul’s voice as he describes their actions in this section—“they stumbled,” “their transgression,” “their rejection.” So he explains that, “some of the branches have been broken off . . . because of unbelief.”
But the incredible thing about our God is that he used this unbelief of his people to be a blessing for the rest of the world. In verse 12 he says that, “their transgression means riches for the world, and their loss means riches for the Gentiles.” He says almost the same thing in verse 15, “Their rejection is the reconciliation of the world.”
In two ways God used their sin to bring riches to the world. Though he didn’t want their rejection, God used it as part of his plan of salvation. Because the Jews rejected God and Jesus, they crucified Jesus—as God had planned for him to be Savior. Secondly, because the Jews rejected God, he turned to offer his salvation to the rest of the world, the Gentiles.
So when Paul is talking to the Romans here, he is also talking to us! Verse 17: “If some of the branches (the Jews) have been broken off, and you, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root.”
You and I were wild olive shoots. We weren’t even part of the nice grove of trees. But God saved us through spiritual inosculation. Because Jesus forgave our sins and became our Savior by faith, we were grafted into God’s family. We don’t deserve to be part of the olive tree. We don’t belong in the olive tree. But We Were Grafted by Grace. God brought us into his family tree and saved us.
However, this is no reason to boast or be proud. Take a look at verse 18. “If some of the branches have been broken off . . . do not boast over those branches.” Do not be boastfully proud over your status as part of God’s family now. Verse 19: “You will say then, ‘Branches were broken off so that I could be grafted in.’ Granted. But they were broken off because of unbelief, and you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but be afraid.”
Yes, Jews were broken off and we have been grafted into God’s family. Yes, it is a blessing from God that out of seven billion people in the world we are a part of the less than two billion who are going to heaven. But this is nothing to boast about, as if we did something special.
That would be like saying a tree branch did something special to get itself into the new tree. Of course not! The horticulturalist, or botanist, or farmer grafted that branch into the tree. He did all the work! So we have no reason to be arrogant or proud. We simply stand by faith in Christ. We’re not arrogant, we’re afraid (meaning in awe of God). We’re not proud, we’re thankful. You Were Grafted by Grace so keep humble and be thankful.
Even though Google is helpful, I still don’t know much about inosculation and grafting. A couple quick searches and articles won’t make me an expert. But there are some concepts that are fairly easy to understand. One might be so simple and easy that we might forget how important it is. Once a new branch has been grafted in, the connection of that branch to the tree is of vital importance!
Go back to verse 17 again: “You, though a wild olive shoot have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root.” Part of being grafted into God’s family by grace is that we now share in the nourishing sap of the olive root. Not only are we connected now to all our spiritual forefather roots like Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David, but we are more importantly fed and nourished by our Savior Jesus Christ.
Imagine a Florida orange tree branch that gets struck by lightning during one of our major tropical storms. The branch is broken off and lying on the ground. It’s a goner. But the owner of the orange grove carefully and lovingly grafts that branch back into a tree. When the branch was otherwise dead, he gave it new life. He saved the branch. Now imagine if that branch could talk and it would say, “Wow. It’s really nice to be part of this tree. Thanks farmer. That’s great. But I don’t really want any nourishment or water or plant food. I’ll be fine on my own.” What do you think will happen to that branch?
I am continually surprised by how blessed our church and school are. We have the amazing privilege of being used by God to touch thousands of lives. I have had the amazing privilege of sharing God’s Word with thousands of people over the years. It is incredible to see God’s grace as he reveals his Son to new people and grafts them into his family tree as well.
Yet I am also continually surprised by how many people say, “Wow. It’s really nice to be part of this tree. Thanks farmer. That’s great. But I don’t really want any nourishment or water or plant food. I’ll be fine on my own.” What do you think happens to those branches?
Well some aren’t here anymore. Some might be weak and sickly branches. Some might be in danger of falling off the tree. Paul warns in the last verse: “For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either.” If the Jews weren’t safe being part of the original tree, then we aren’t safe either.
We all need nourishment. We need plant food. We need Christ and we need his Word. We can make any excuse in the book. But the truth is, when we miss church or miss Bible study or miss personal devotions or miss prayer we are starving ourselves. We are weakening ourselves. We are missing opportunities to strengthen our connection to the tree and to Christ.
We do not deserve to be a part of God’s family. We were that lightning struck orange tree branch, broken off and left for dead in our sins. But God graciously picked us up and grafted us into his family. We Were Grafted by Grace so now keep connected to the tree and to Jesus.
The apostle Paul was such a loving and compassionate missionary. He had so much passion for reaching out to the Gentiles. He traveled the world to do so. At the same time he still had so much hopeful care for his own Jewish people. It was his constant prayer that they would come to know Jesus as their Savior. How incredible that would be!
Listen to verse 12: “But if their transgression means riches for the world, and their loss means riches for the Gentiles, how much greater riches will their fullness bring!” If God used their rejection of Jesus to bring Jesus to us Gentiles, how much greater will it be if they, the original tree, come back to Christ!
Verse 15-16 are similar: “For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead? If the part of the dough offered as firstfruits is holy, then the whole batch is holy; if the root is holy, so are the branches.” If Jews come to faith it’s like life from the dead. They are the original part of the batch of dough, the original root of the tree. How great it would be if they come back from the dead and come back to Christ by God’s grace.
We can learn from this attitude of Paul. How great it is not only for the Jews, but for anyone to learn about Christ and be grafted into God’s family tree. Besides maintaining our own personal connections to Jesus Christ through worship, study, and prayer, it can be our continual concern to reach out to the lost. Sure our church and school have grown a lot in a little time, but our work is far from done.
I have been a believer my entire life. I was grafted into God’s family at my baptism as an infant and raised in a Christian household. But many of you in this room have different stories. Many of you were not grafted into God’s family till later in life. Some of you I knew for one or two or more years before you even started coming to church. But now you are here and now you are part of God’s family tree. That’s by God’s grace.
Unlike real tree branches, we spiritual branches have the ability to talk. We have the privilege of being able to share with other people how wonderful it is to be a part of God’s family tree and how wonderful it is to be fed by Jesus Christ and his Word.
Take some time over the next few days. Think of one or two families you can invite to church. Think of people that aren’t part of the tree right now, or think of people whose connection to Christ is very weak. Invite them to worship. Invite them to our Easter services and Easter brunch. Invite them to hear about God’s forgiving love that will take sinful, broken branches like us and graft us into his family. You Were Grafted by Grace so now keep sharing the good news of salvation.
I’m guessing you didn’t expect that you would come to church today and learn about horticulture and inosculation. But now you know everything I know about grafting tree branches (which isn’t much, sorry!).
What a blessing though that you were also able to hear today, as you do every week, about your own spiritual inosculation. We all were broken off, spiritually dead branches that God saved by his grace. He grafted us into his family through Jesus and made us new, living branches in his family.
All this is only by God’s grace. So keep humble, keep connected to Christ and his Word, and keep sharing Christ and his Word. God will make his branches grow—by grace.
Posted on March 18, 2013, in Church, Sermons and tagged Church, Evangelism, God's Word, Grace, Grafting, Humble, Humility, Inosculation, Lent, Romans, Romans 11, Roots, Sermons, Word of God, Worship. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.