In my last post, we looked at Paul’s illustration using bread and the firstfruits. He’s talking about the nation of Israel as a part of God’s plan. In this post we’ll look at his next example.
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.
Now Paul will use roots and branches to give a more detailed illustration. He tells us that if the root is set apart as holy, then the rest of the plant is holy also.
It’s clear that the most important part of the plant is the root. That’s where the life is. So, Paul is talking about a holy root.
“I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.”
There’s no way around it; Jesus Christ is the holy Root. That’s why we need His life. This is an important concept. The Lord explained it to His disciples in the parable of the farmer planting his seed.
I believe that the NKJV brings this truth out in the best way.
These likewise are the ones sown on stony ground who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with gladness; and they have no root in themselves, and so endure only for a time. Afterward, when tribulation or persecution arises for the word’s sake, immediately they stumble. (NKJV)
This statement of Jesus explains what Paul is talking about in the book of Romans. We can see that Israel is a self-righteous people. The key is that they have no root in themselves.
It’s like building your house on the sand. We need a root to give us life and keep us from falling. So, a holy root makes holy branches.
If some of the branches 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, do not boast over those branches. If you do, consider this: You do not support the root, but the root supports you.
Paul tells us that some branches were broken off and wild branches were grafted in. The wild branches speak of the Gentiles who receive Christ. We’re now a co-participants of the root. According to the apostle, we now share in the richness of the olive tree.
This goes right along with what Christ taught His disciples…and us.
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.”
What matters is the life of the root and the richness of the tree. I’m not better than any other branch. There’s nothing I can boast about. It’s the root that sustains my life.
That’s why we have to watch our attitudes. We don’t keep the root alive – the root keeps us alive.
It’s so important that we keep ourselves connected to the root. When we try to go off on our own, we’re headed for failure. We must remain in Christ.
That means maintaining a healthy relationship with the Holy Spirit. Time in prayer allows us to receive the life-giving support of the root. Please don’t lose sight of this fundamental truth.
Question: How have you received strength and support through your time with the Holy Spirit?
© 2021 Nick Zaccardi