In this section of verses the Lord and His servant decide to graft back the original branches, meanwhile only removing those wild ones that bear the MOST bitter fruit (v. 57). Do you hear what I hear?
I hear the mercy and kindness of the Lord, His long-suffering, patience and forgiveness and tolerance. He gives instruction to remove ONLY those wild branches that bring forth the MOST bitter fruit.
Reading a verse like this became a revelation to me inviting me to see the TRUE nature of God. All my life (even as an active LDS member) I had thought of Him as being so strict and judgmental that even my smallest mistakes made Him frown. So what did I do? Like a child, I hid my face from Him. Oh, I did most of the outwardly faithful things He told me to do. But in my heart, where it counts the most, I resisted going to Him, afraid to be “foolish” in front of Him.
As I worked through the 12-Steps, I found myself being asked to do nothing more threatening than a very simple, very basic procedure of humble faith and “fine-tooth comb” repentance.(Steps 4-9)
As I cooperated with the process of humbling myself as outlined in these steps, I found the scriptures being opened to my eyes and to my heart turned to the Lord.
It was then that I heard the exquisite harmony between verses like Jacob 5:57, and Alma 34:16 which sings these words in oneness with Jacob’s allegory, :
15 And thus he shall bring salvation to all those who shall believe on his name; this being the intent of this last sacrifice, to bring about the bowels of mercy, which overpowereth justice, and bringeth about means unto men that they may have faith unto repentance.
16 And thus mercy can satisfy the demands of justice, and encircles them in the arms of safety,
(Book of Mormon | Alma 34:15 – 16)
These were verses that awakened me to the truth that my Father in Heaven could exercise sufficient mercy–not to rob justice (Alma 42:25)–but to to satisfy it! How joyfully I embraced the honest inventory and confession and amends these steps invited me to take.
So, one more time, let us ponder our Lord’s long-suffering kindness toward us revealed in Jacob’s words:
And the Lord of the vineyard said unto the servant: Pluck not the wild branches from the trees, save it be those which are most bitter; . . . (Book of Mormon | Jacob 5:57)
Did you hear that, fellow addicts, fellow mortals, fellow mistake makers?
That means that God is as merciful as He is just.
Go to Him. Find out the TRUE nature of your loving Savior, who is in perfect similitude of your equally loving Father in Heaven.
We can all have a perfect brightness of hope because of Their desire to wait for us to open our hearts and our lives to Them.
(excerpted from “A 12-Step Commentary on the Book of Mormon,” by myself written in 1990.)