I was thinking about Romans over the past weekend, in particular chapters 10-12 and looking at the grafting in and out of the vine as part of producing and not producing fruit and how that is reflective on who I am as a follower of Jesus.
In doing so, I found a rabbinic teaching in Deuteronomy that took instructions about trees and turned those trees into disciples. So there was a match between my pondering and today’s readings. Not sure what it all means, so I will give it as is and let you take it somewhere or leave it right where it is.
When you besiege a city for a long time, making war against it in order to take it, you shall not destroy its trees by wielding an axe against them. You may eat from them, but you shall not cut them down. Are the trees in the field human, that they should be besieged by you? Only the trees that you know are not trees for food you may destroy and cut down, that you may build siegeworks against the city that makes war with you, until it falls. – Deuteronomy 20:19-20 ESV
Those who have made a decision to follow Jesus are strong candidates and are fit for leading others to do the same. Those who truly have made such a decision are described as disciples. There is a particular rabbinic mandate that opposes anyone teaching an unfit disciple.
If a disciple of the sages is fit [הָגוּן], eat from him and do not cut him down, but if not destroy him and cut him down
Going back to my pondering in Romans. Our reading today in Acts illustrates the grafting in of Gentiles. Paul had incredible success – thousands of Jews started following Jesus. Yes, he also experienced persecution to the point that the words Jesus gave Ananias that Paul would suffer as he served came all true. Yet, here we have the call to specifically share the good news to the Gentiles and they would respond in an even greater way for they would actually listen.
Therefore let it be known to you that this salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles; they will listen. – Acts 28:28 ESV
Father, I do not live in fear of being taken out of Your family. You have placed me here with You and Your love and grace sustains me. I want to learn from You and I want to listen to You. Help me take what I learn and hear and share it with others that they may walk with You as well. I cannot walk where You have called me, alone. I need You with me as You were with Paul. Thank you for sharing Yourself with me. I pray that I may always honour You in all that I do and say. Amen.