In the middle of an ancient olive orchard there lived a regal and perfect olive tree. While many of the other olive trees in the orchard had nice olives, none could compare to this grand-daddy of all trees. The olives from the ancient tree in the midst of the garden had rich texture and powerful flavor.
Occasionally the gardener would come to check on his trees. One day, as he approached the mighty tree at the heart of the orchard he drew a machete and chopped off one of the strongest braches, right where it connected to the tree. He then lopped a branch off a small scrawny tree from the edge of the orchard and grafted it into the open wound he had created on the strong vibrant tree. As the strong tree and the miserable branch bonded a remarkable thing happened. The rich sap from the grand tree began oozing into the newly attached branch and the weak branch began to pulse with life.
As time went by the gardener grafted in a few more branches from other lesser trees throughout the orchard. Each time lopping off a perfectly strong and healthy branch to make room for the weaker branch. One day as the farmer approached the patriarch of the orchard he stooped and picked up one of the discarded branches that used to be so glorious. It was now withered and nearly dead as it had been disconnected from the trees’ deeply nourishing sap for quite some time. The gardener then did something that he had not done before. He cut a wedge out of a fleshy area on the side of the tree. Then he cut off the first few inches of the disconnected branch and shaped it to match the wedge in the trunk of the tree. Carefully he grafted the wasted branch into the new hole. The sap began to flow deeply into the branch and soon life returned to the limb that had nearly been dead.
Paul, in concluding this story comments, “Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off. And if they do not persist in unbelief, they will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. After all, if you were cut out of an olive tree that is wild by nature, and contrary to your nature were grafted into a cultivated olive tree, how much more readily will these, the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree!" (Romans 11:22-24)