Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Orange (the color) (11/19/09)
By Phee Paradise
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I’m sure Jesus’ disciples could relate to this image of a vine and branches, but I’ve never seen a grapevine up close. So I’m going to change the image a bit and imagine He was talking about an orange tree. My grandfather was an orange farmer and I loved playing in the grove. His rows of orange trees produced bushels of one of the most mouthwatering fruits anyone could enjoy.
There are many varieties of oranges, but there are two kinds of orange trees. One kind is strong, but produces a bitter fruit. The other kind is fragile, but produces a sweet fruit. So orange farmers plant rows of the strong, bitter trees between furrows for feeding and watering. Then they graft branches from sweet trees onto them. The bitter trees are called root stock, because their purpose is to provide nourishment to the grafted-in branches. You see, the sweet fruit branches can’t survive apart from the strong roots of the host tree. Neither can we produce fruit apart from Jesus.
There are several techniques for grafting, but Granddaddy’s method is a beautiful illustration of how God grafts us into Jesus. The root stock is prepared for grafting by cutting an X into the bark. This creates four flaps that are peeled back to expose the cambium layer. This layer of cells under the bark is what makes the branch grow. The branch to be grafted is then cut at an angle with a sharp knife so that its cambium is exposed. Then it is placed against the exposed cambium of the root stock and covered with the bark flaps until the two grow together and the branch becomes part of the tree. Sometimes the join is wrapped with tape and sometimes the branch is held in place with nails.
In this image, the root stock, like Jesus, is marked with a cross. As the branches, we also must suffer when God grafts us into our Savior.
“Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me.’” (Matthew 16:24 NLT)
God cuts us away from our old ways and He grows new life in us as soon as we are joined to Him. In a real sense, we are born again. And for some of us, the joining requires nails, just like the ones that were pounded into Jesus on the cross. From this point on, we remain in Him.
Once we are joined to Jesus, we start producing fruit. But trees don’t instantly sprout ripe, juicy oranges and neither do we. I once had an old Valencia orange tree in my back yard. Not only was the fruit delicious, but the tree always had fruit on it. Regardless of the season, it always had flowers, green oranges, and ripe oranges. I think that’s how the Holy Spirit grows fruit in us. Some fruits grow faster than others. You may have a little flower of joy, and a few small green spheres of kindness, but a full crop of patience. Well that’s good, because if you wait long enough, the joy and kindness will grow into delightful, juicy oranges too.
Whether you see Jesus as a grapevine or an orange tree, or some other kind fruit tree, the message is the same. Remain in Him and you will bear fruit. I want to produce good oranges, what about you?
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