Day 2 Read: Romans 11:17-24
But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, although a wild olive shoot, were grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing root of the olive tree, 18 do not be arrogant toward the branches. If you are, remember it is not you who support the root, but the root that supports you. 19 Then you will say, “Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.” 20 That is true. They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand fast through faith. So do not become proud, but fear. 21 For if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will he spare you. 22 Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God's kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness. Otherwise you too will be cut off.23 And even they, if they do not continue in their unbelief, will be grafted in, for God has the power to graft them in again. 24 For if you were cut from what is by nature a wild olive tree, and grafted, contrary to nature, into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these, the natural branches, be grafted back into their own olive tree.
Reflect: What seems surprising about how Paul speaks of the salvation of the Gentiles? How does an attitude of arrogance toward non-Christians demonstrate a lack of understanding of the gospel?
Consider: Paul’s famous image of the cultivated and wild olive trees portrays beautifully what God has done for the Gentiles. Here is how the two types of olive trees compare (Israel is pictured as an olive tree before God in Jer. 11:16):
the cultivated olive tree
pruned and cultivated to bear much fruit
while the root was good, the branches were failing to be fruitful
the fruitless branches are trimmed, keeping the root, and branches from the wild olive are grafted in
the wild olive tree
from lack of care in the wild, had never produced fruit
the root was weak, but had branches which were strong
fruitless branches are cut off and grafted into the healthy root so that they may begin to bear fruit for the first time 2
Respond: Why might it be important to acknowledge both the “kindness” and “severity” of God? Why might it be dangerous to neglect either of these two realities?