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John’s gospel post 69: Vine

February 19, 2014

“There he talked with water. And then with the Vine” – Genesis – One for the vine (from the album “Wind and wuthering”)

John 15:1 – 17

So Jesus announces it’s time to move on. Only to carry on talking.

To his long list of pseudonyms he adds another. The Vine.

Another picture that the disciples would have been familiar with.

Jesus is the Vine. God is the gardener. There follows an explanation of how his followers are the vine branches. And he encourages his followers to remain in him. That’s what branches do right?

Now I didn’t listen in all my lessons at school, but I did pay attention when Dr Moon told us about parables in O level RE. The standard Sunday school definition of a parable was an “earthly story with a heavenly meaning”.

Dr Moon explained the difference between a parable and an allegory. An allegory was where each element of the story had a meaning. Jesus’ “parable” of the sower could be a good example of that where he painstakingly describes to his disciples privately what each part of the story means.

It would be easy to do this with this parable but I think we would end up with meanings not intended. As we are presented with a picture of the gardener going round lopping off branches which are not fruitful, some might argue that this suggest we as Jesus’ followers can become detached from Jesus and fall away. Thrown on the bonfire.

To me the parable makes a more general point. What is the point of someone who follows Jesus but provides us with no evidence to back it up? No point at all actually. In the gardening world such branches would be thrown away. As I look at the body of scripture I don’t see that God does this. I don’t see that we can be saved and then unsaved. That Jesus’ work of salvation can somehow be undone.

I know not all Christians will agree with me on this. Christians talk about assurance – a knowledge that they are safe in Jesus’ hands. A certainty that each branch is part of the Vine. That eternal destiny is certain.

Some complain that such a belief leads to complacency. It shouldn’t do. It is sobering enough to think that if I am not fruitful I am a waste of space!

How can we be fruitful? Only by remaining in Jesus. He must be our centre.

Fruit? The fruit of leading other people to become his followers. The fruit of our lips – worship. The fruit of the Spirit – Godly character.

These things should mark us and we should be challenged if they don’t.

Jesus repeats his claim too that those who abide in him can ask for anything. pray with faith.

Being fruitful fulfils my purpose. But it also brings glory to God.

Love is the marker. Jesus’ love. My love for others. Our love for each other.

What kind of love do we live? Jesus’ kind of love. A love that would lay down its life for a friend.

To love Jesus and to love others involves obedience to the master.

And Jesus calls his disciples his friends. He has shown his love by acting like their servant. His death which he foretells is a death with a purpose.

He shares the trade secrets with his friends.

The command is not a complicated one – love each other.

Make your choice then.

Or is it your choice?

Jesus tells his listeners. “You didn’t make the choice. I did”. More words that we Christians struggle with. Does Jesus choose some but not others?

These are things more complicated than we have time for here, but…

Why does Jesus choose? “To bear fruit”. Chosen to live lives that count. Not so that I can smugly await the after life. But to be fruitful followers of Jesus.

How’s it growing?

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From → Christianity

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