Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Life on the Vine John 15:1-8

Jesus made some very powerful I am statements in the Gospel of John. These I am statements echo back to the ancient Hebrew scriptures to the very name of God.
A God's name in Hebrew יַהְוֶה is a verb that's well translated as I was, I am, I will be.

So the Gospel of John keys in on time when Jesus speaks these words—when Jesus says, I am...
I am the bread of life
John 6:48
I am the light of the world
John 8:12
I am the door for the sheep
John 10:7
I am the good shepherd
John 10:11
I am the Son of God
John 10:36
I am the resurrection and the life
John 11:25
I am the way, the truth, and the life
John 14:6
I am in the father and the Father is in me
John 14:10
I am the true vine
John 15:1
I am not of the world
John 17:14

Often after Jesus said I am he had a word about who his followers, his disciples are too.

I am the living bread that came down from heaven.
Whoever eats of this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh. John 6:51

I am the light of the world John
Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life. John 8:12

I am the good shepherd.
I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. And I lay down my life for the sheep. John 10:14-15

“I am the resurrection and the life.
Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. John 11:25-26

“I am the way, and the truth, and the life.
No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, you will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” John 14:6-7

Today we key in on the last of Jesus I am statements in the Gospel of John
I am the vine,
you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:5

John wrote many chapters about the last night of Jesus life. It seems like Jesus had a lot to say the night before he died—and what he said mattered not only the night he before he died—it mattered for the disciples as the years went by. Jesus said these words as he sat with his friends and at at supper. But the promise matters today just like it did that night when he was betrayed.

I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinegrower. John 15:1 NRSV
Jesus is making a promise
a promise that you will be fruitful
but along the way to being fruitful you will be pruned—Jesus said his father is like the gardener.

A good gardener will come with pruning hooks, with saws, with sheres to cut away the dead parts of a vine—the gardners goal is not to destray the vine—but to see it thrive and bear lots of fruit. Think what Jesus promise means for you and me—that the father will be like a gardener in our lives means today. God's goal isn't to cause us pain—his goal is to help us share light and hope with the world. God's goal is to cut away the parts of our lives that are dead so that he can help us make a difference in this world. God's goal is for us to leave behind the old so that we can be fruitful witnesses to the power of God right now and in the days to come.

Where are you being pruned—
where's God at work digging at the roots of your life. Where's God using the fertilizer and the tools. I believe God's always working on us—through the Word that comes from outside of us—and through the Holy Spirit that writes that Word on our hearts and that moves us out into the world.
Abide inn me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:4-5 NRSV
He's the vine-
you are the branches
There are times when Jesus words echo through the years. And I think this is one of those times where the promise impacts us every time it's heard.
I am the vine you are the branches. Jesus is saying something about himself and about the people who follow him in this world.
He's saying He is the source. And he's saying that his people—you the church—you are the branches.

The church is not an institution – no it's God's body. The church is made up of people sharing a message of love and redemption that starts with Jesus cross and resurrection. The church is Easter people branching out into the world sharing hope and forgiveness in the name of Jesus the one who died and rose. Our message is resurrection—hope and new life are found in Jesus.

you as the church you don't go out alone. We are God's people connected by the Word, connected through the water of baptism, connected through the bread and wine of communion back to God. We are witnesses lead by the Holy Spirit to share hope and forgiveness.

Abide in me he says
—have you place in me.
This call to abide was such good news for the early church. They faced persecution. They faced grief and loss all because of the faith—but Jesus was making them a promise—they have a place that can never be taken away.

In our age there's a false gospel of prosperity. There's a false gospel that teaches that God's people will have no trouble and that God's people will get whatever they want just for the asking.

The first people to read these words from John's Gospel didn't have it easy. The real history of the early church—from the fall of Jerusalem to the martyrs who died in the Colosseum for the entertainment of the crowds who wanted blood that's the first church who read these words. The real history of the church teaches us that God is giving us a promise that goes far beyond today. Trust him—trust him to answer prayer—not always as you want or when you want. Trust him not to give you every earthly desire—no trust that he has a place for you forever.

Jesus spoke of the glory God receives when we bear fruit. And I think this is a great place to renew our imaginations to think and see what it means to be fruitful in this world. We are invited to join the creator of the world in the work of redemption. We are called to be co creators with God—to join God in the renewal. He is the vine—abide in him and you will bear much fruit.
Peace, and thanks for reading. bear much fruit.

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