On Friday, I had just finished morning reading exercises with seventh grade, Class 3, The bell rang for all the to students return to the classroom for their first period while I was admiring the beautiful blossoms outside their door. As three boys headed into class, they asked what I was doing, and as I explained that I was taking a close-up shot of the blossoms, I realized that pictures of people are way better than flowers. So I asked them to pose for one snapshot as they ran into class. Sure enough, they made the shot something way more special.
After all the students were out of eyesight, I reached up and plucked a tiny branch of pink flowers off the tree. I just wanted to bring a bit of spring into my desk in the office. I knew it wouldn’t last too long, but it was so sweet! The blooming tree was such a symbol of full, vibrant new life, and I wanted to bring that in with me.
I didn’t realize that the petals would be wilting within hours. I was out of the school for the weekend, and when I came back Sunday at noon, I was dismayed at the change in the blossoms. The deadness of the flowers, combined with the color of their past life, was a sad and desolate combination.
Jesus is the tree, and we are the branches. This concept is portrayed many times in Scripture, through Jesus’ parable of the vine, as well as Paul’s discussion of being “grafted in,” and others. One of the ultimate purposes of this illustration is to demonstrate complete dependence on the life of the root, the tree. The branches come out from the tree, or are grafted on to it, but they do nothing to actually contribute to their own growth. They receive the nutrients that are pumped to them from the roots.
Maybe a little branch of the tree starts thinking that she should being doing more to sustain herself, that she shouldn’t be so dependent on the roots and trunk of the tree. So when an admiring Shelby comes along, this little branch looks her best and smiles brightly so as to cause Shelby to pluck her off. Finally, the branch can show her tree just how much she can do!
For an hour, the little branch thought she was doing pretty great; she still looked beautiful and full of life! But that didn’t last long. Suddenly she was fading, drying up, and dying of thirst. She wanted nothing more than to be back with her tree, attached and completely dependent, just like she was meant to be.