The Olive Tree
by Pastor Ed Visser
Whether standing on Mt Carmel or sitting in the Garden of Gethsemane, one is struck by the many groves of olive trees. Some are relatively new; others may have stood in Jesus’ day. Especially fascinating is the old gnarled tree that is, at the same time both ugly, twisted, and old, yet strong, wise, and beautiful. If you look carefully, you will see that there are new branches coming out of the stump even though the roots of the tree could be thousands of years old. In the case of this tree, only the groomsman would be able to tell us whether these new branches were grafted in or they sprouted on their own.
Olive trees can grow on almost any soil and can flourish in great heat with little water. They are virtually indestructible; even when they are cut down, new life will grow back from the roots. The olive tree has played a highly significant role throughout the history of Israel. Physically it provided a source of food, medicine, fuel, and a base for the anointing oil of kings and priests. Spiritually, it represents faithfulness, steadfastness, endurance, new life, and a host of other good things. And, of course, the olive leaf has become a universal symbol of peace.
Paul paints a picture for both Jewish and gentile believers in which the olive tree represents the roots of faith to which branches from another line can be grafted. The tree cannot exist without branches, nor branches without roots:
Many other lessons could be gleaned from the olive tree, but the most beautiful one is that of the Messiah as a branch growing from it. This tender branch, stemming from an old and weathered tree, has become the King of Israel, and to his glory, has even taken on the Name of God himself!
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