Devotional

Published on May 16th, 2020 | by God's Squad DNA team

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Jesus is the true vine, John 15:1-8. May 13, 2020 by Barro

Womin-Jeka, sisters and brothers and warm greetings from a sunny Melbourne autumn day. I trust all is well in your world during this unusual season of global isolation and restrictions

Today’s gospel text comes from John 15:1-8  where Jesus teaches his followers that he is the true vine and God is the gardener.

These are images that were very familiar to a rural middle eastern community that John was writing to, but maybe not so familiar to 21st-century urbanites like myself.

It is something that our brother Stéphane and his family in Switzerland know all about, as winemakers over many generations. Their life is lived around vines and healthy fruit.

This morning’s passage is rich in symbolism.

Firstly, this is the 7th and final of the “I Am” statements by Jesus that are recorded in John’s gospel. Check out the others for yourself some time.

Secondly, the vine was a common image used in the Hebrew Bible, or the Old Testament to speak of Israel as God’s people, and it conveyed the ideas of divine love and divine judgment.

We see plenty of examples of this throughout the Old Testament prophets, especially Ezekiel, Isaiah, and Jeremiah

John plays with this Old Testament imagery, the vine grower is still God, but now Jesus is the vine, not Israel. And the branches, us, are part of the vine, that is, part of Jesus’ body.

Fruit-bearing is not something that the branches do by force of will. The fruit happens organically because the vine is true and the gardener is good.

The secret to a productive branch is its attachment to the vine, its relationship to Jesus and his community, a theme expressed by the idea of abiding or remaining in him.

8 times Jesus tells us in this passage to abide or remain in him

It speaks about an intentional choice to stick close to Jesus. It must be important if it is repeated so many times.

Often we repeat something to make sure someone gets it. I reckon Jesus is doing that here with his disciples, and us today.

It is worth remembering that branches don’t live off their own fruit. The fruit is for someone else,

We do not just remain in Christ so that we can look good, or for our own self-interest. We bear fruit for the sake of others. So others can taste the fruit from the vine, from Jesus.

You see, this is the way with Jesus, we are not just his children so we can feel good about ourselves or to have some kind of lone ranger faith.

No here and in fact right through the gospel narratives, Jesus calls us to be sharing his love with others around us, and especially to the last, the least and the lost.

In fact, for Jesus, that is how we are marked as one of his followers,

Here he is using the symbolism of fruit, in other places, he calls us to be salt and light, to share the love of Jesus in words and actions, and for others to see and experience the kingdom of God or the reign of God.

During these unusual global times of isolation and restrictions, the call again is to ‘remain in’ Christ., to stick close to Jesus, not just so we can look good or feel good for our own sake. But rather so others around us may see and experience the love of God in real and practical ways.

Over these past few days, I have been part of a great team with Foothills Community Care – Community Meals that have had the privilege of distributing and delivering over 600 gourmet cooked meals to isolated and vulnerable mothers in our local community here in outer eastern Melbourne.

For us, this has been just one way we can creatively continue to share Jesus’ love in very practical ways during restrictions.

What about us? How do we today intentionally choose to remain close to Jesus, the vine?

How do we intentionally share his love, mercy and grace, or the fruit, to others around us?

May God bless you all as you seek to follow him today, Amen

Barro – Melbourne chapter, Australia


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