Ephesians 3:17-19 connects the love of Christ, Christ’s love for us, not our love for him, as the nutrients which will bring about spiritual maturity. He describes maturity as a progressive understanding and appreciation of God’s love expressed on the Cross. He says it this way, “so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” If we sink our roots into God’s love, the nutrients for true spiritual growth will flow through us and produce fruit. We can’t produce fruit on our own. The children of Israel could not force “rest” in the Promised Land without God. We can’t find “rest” outside of our complete faith and trust in the full sufficiency of Jesus.  Jesus said it this way in John 15:5, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”

The author of the book of Hebrews turns to this agricultural picture to illustrate this truth. He suggests that it takes continual (note the word “often”) Jesus nourishment (abiding in Christ) to produce fruit. This nourishment is abundantly available to all. In Hebrews 6:7 he says, “For land that has drunk the rain that often falls on it, and produces a crop useful to those for whose sake it is cultivated, receives a blessing from God.” Crops draw their nourishment from the rains and the soil, but Christians draw maturing nourishment from Jesus. He is the only source of “living water” and the only true “bread of life.” The land that continually draws its nutrients from Jesus,  the “Word” of God, will mature and produce fruit. In Matthew 13:23 Jesus said, “As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.”

This is all leading up to the author’s return to the Genesis account of Melchizedek. There is true Jesus meat in that story and he’ll take some time in cutting up the meat and serving it to his readers. He seems to be setting the table now and in the rest of Hebrews chapter 6. Make no mistake, it’s understanding the depth of God’s love for us as expressed on Calvary through Jesus that nourishes spiritual growth. Romans 8:5 says, “But God demonstrates His love for us in this: while we were still sinners Christ died for us.” The growing appreciation of this is what brings us into God’s rest. Jesus did it for us! Like the children of Israel at Kadesh Barnea, we cannot do it on our own. “Apart from Him, we can do nothing.”