FAQ: What is the Grafted in, Jewish Roots, thing?
Where does the phrase "Grafted in" even come from? What does it mean? How does it effect the whole Body of Christ?
The phrase is first found in an analogy Paul describes in Romans 9-11 to warn us what could happen to gentile followers of Jesus. Unfortunately, in the early days of Christianity, Apostle Paul's (Rabbi Sha'ul's) warning went unheeded, and now we have two separate religions, the Jewish Faith and Christianity.
Romans 11:17-21 is the basis for the name of this understanding of "the Israel thing". God chose Abraham, Isaac, and then Jacob from among all others to write his story (history) of redemption in the earth. God made a covenant with these men and their progeny down the line of time, reaffirming it several times, bring in more depth and revelation over the generations (Abraham, Moses, David and then Jesus). The Mosaic Covenant did not abrogate the Abrahamic Covenant, it only made it deeper, richer and more costly for both stakeholders in the covenant.
God poured himself into the Jewish/Hebrew culture through giving His Word and interacting with them as individuals and as a nation. He offered an understanding of His character and relationship with Him with clues that can be uncovered through studying His Word. Many of these exciting character traits are discoverable in the instructions for celebrating the Feasts of the Lord in Exodus and Deuteronomy.
The Greatest Act
In the greatest act of love in His story, Jesus, the Son of God, became a man. He died and rose from the dead. He was acting according to the covenant God made with the Jewish People. A covenant that says if one or the other of us breaks the words of this agreement, it will be paid for with death/blood. Not only did God , the Creator of the Universe, offer an agreement with a human being and Abraham's descendants, but when those human beings broke the covenant agreement, He paid for it with His own life!
In God's mercy, this called for another update to the covenant, a progression in the covenant. This update--the Jesus covenant--added to the previous covenants a particularly good deal. The update included that gentiles could choose to be part of the covenant along with the Jewish People. Paul described it like the addition of "wild olive branches" to a cultivated tree.
The problem came in when the gentiles saw this great deal the God of the Universe was offering [salvation from sin and relationship with Him] and went all in (so far so good.)! but then the gentiles began to outnumber the Jews and the gentiles allowed an offense to build up in their hearts against the Jewish Believers for "killing Jesus" (among other things). That offense turned to bitter hatred which caused the early gentile Believers in Jesus to sever all ties and reject all the nuances about God that He had planted into the Jewish Faith. Except Jesus.
They took Jesus and ran!
They started their own thing, called it church (see an FAQ on Church origins), and sited the oft heard phrase "we're no longer under the law" in order to reject anyone who felt that God had told them to follow the law. It was as if the law was now understood to be some horrible thing to be rejected (along with anyone who ascribed to its instruction. But it is the Word of God, and His instruction on how to live well in the world He created.
The way I see it (& Paul too incidentally), is that God is the soil, offering all we need in the way of nutrition to live well. Israel or the Jewish People are the ancient, well-cultivated trunk of the tree with some healthy branches and some that don't produce as well as the Lord intended for them to. The Church is also branches and an olive tree (once wild and growing alone). The wild olive branch can come fully alive when grafted into the ancient, well-cultivated trunk, understanding and honoring the Chosen People for who God said they are (the apple of His eye) and their role in the Kingdom, soaking up the nourishment of the soil through a well-cultivated tree. (Who did the cultivating of this culture after all? GOD!)
The combination of the hearty wild branch soaking up nourishment and lending strength to the trunk of the Olive Tree produces a fruit like no other and once harvested, the olives, when pressed into oil, can produce a whole new quality and quantity. Then a new analogy is born, referring to the purity of the Holy Spirit who is often referenced as oil in Christian circles.
Article continued below. We thought your eyes could use a color break from all the black and white words.
What I am not saying is that there is more than one way to be saved. Jesus himself said, Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." (John 14:6). Gentiles do not become Jewish; Jews do not become Christian. What I am saying is that when we each drink up nourishment and support from one another, honoring our distinctive roles in God's Kingdom, we all produce better fruit for our great King Jesus!
Acknowledging and honoring instead of rejecting our Jewish Roots (where Christianity comes from) offers gentile Believers a better understanding of the fullness of this Kingdom they have said "yes" to being part of. And a better understanding and faith in the King's character of faithfulness.
What is comes down to for me is a question for anyone who believes that God has rejected the Jews and has given His covenant and promises over to the Church as some sort of "spiritual Israel": How can I trust a God who breaks His promises? Who does an end-around his own words? If God lies, then this whole gig is up; Satan wins. But He does not break His promises. Every word that comes from His mouth is true. He is not through with the Jewish People or Israel. He was never through with Israel!
Ready to read more? Continued in FAQ: Jewish Roots Movement Explained.
Romans 11:17-21 NKJV
Note the close similarities in the CJB's translation.
Romans 11:17-21 Complete Jewish Bible 17 But if some of the branches were broken off, and you — a wild olive — were grafted in among them and have become equal sharers in the rich root of the olive tree, 18 then don’t boast as if you were better than the branches! However, if you do boast, remember that you are not supporting the root, the root is supporting you. 19 So you will say, “Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.” 20 True, but so what? They were broken off because of their lack of trust. However, you keep your place only because of your trust. So don’t be arrogant; on the contrary, be terrified! 21 For if God did not spare the natural branches, he certainly won’t spare you!
A cultivated (newer) olive tree in the Garden of Gethsemane. The Church of All Nations is in the background.