Pastor Steven’s Message

  I Am the Vine, You Are the Branches

John 15:1-11
Jesus the True Vine

      
       15 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine
grower. 2 He removes every branch in me that bears no
fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it
bear more fruit. 3 You have already been cleansed by
the word that I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in 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. 5 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. 6 Whoever
does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and
withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the
fire, and burned. 7 If you abide in me, and my words
abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be
done for you. 8 My Father is glorified by this, that you
bear much fruit and become my disciples.9 As the Father
has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. 10
If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love,
just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide
in his love. 11 I have said these things to you so that my
joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.

       
Here’s a thoughtful exercise as you meditate on
this passage of scripture… think about these points:
It’s about Relationship: God the Father is the vine

grower. Jesus is the Vine. We are the branches.
First the disclaimer:
Clearly God does not need us for anything.
He existed in eternity past without us, and
He can exist
forever into the future without need of any help from us.
That being said, He invites us into this relationship where
we, through Christ, are the bearers of fruit. We are
integral to that relationship. It is not the vine grower
nor is it the vine from which the fruit is produced… it is
the branches!
Verse 2 is a troubling verse: 2 He (God the Father)
removes every branch (us) in me (Jesus the True Vine)
that bears no fruit. Who is “us?” Clearly it says those in
Jesus… so “us” is believers.
God removes believers who don’t bear fruit!? Is this
saying that as a believer, if I don’t bear fruit, then I
can be removed from Christ, chopped off, thrown into
the fire with those that don’t abide in Christ like it says
in verse 6: 6 Whoever does not abide in me is thrown
away like a branch and withers; such branches are
gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. Is this
saying that I can lose my salvation for not bearing fruit?
What does this mean concerning faith, not works?
If that’s true, then that’s troubling – so much so that it
should cause us to look deeper. If we go to the original
Greek, we see the word for remove is airó (ah’-ee-ro) –
which does, in fact mean to remove. But it also means:
to raise up, to lift up, to carry, to bear or bear up.
Further research revealed that unlike modern vineyards,
in which grapes are grown suspended from a trellis or rail
system, ancient vineyards were grown on the ground. If
the grapes and branches sat in water, they sometimes
developed a fungus, which prevented the grapes from
growing or caused the grapes to rot. The vine grower
would lift the branches in these trouble spots by placing
a large rock under the vine, holding it up so that it could
thrive.
This is a much better image, in my mind, of God the
Father, not pouring out wrath on the believer struggling
to bear fruit, chopping us off the vine, but rather lifting
us up in Christ, so that we can thrive. Now I can better
understand the passage and reconcile it with that process
of justification by faith, and sanctification through the
Holy Spirit that we know to be truth.
One last thing regarding the end of the passage: 11 I
have said these things to you so that my joy may be in
you, and that your joy may be complete. Jesus is saying
these words as He is preparing to be arrested, tried,
convicted, scourged, humiliated, hung from a cross… to
what possible joy could He be referring?
Jesus is not focused on those things, but rather He is
focusing on the resurrection! The relationship we have
with the vine grower, the true vine, as branches enables
us not only to bear fruit, but to have a share in the
resurrection of Christ – because we are of the same
substance in Him. If you look at an actual grapevine, it
is difficult to determine where the vine ends and the
branch begins. We are of the same substance as the
vine, not the same, but not separate, not one, but not
two. Like waves in an ocean, not one, but not two. Like
the dancer and the dance, not one, but not two. It’s a
mystery – the joy we share in Christ!
I hope this brief exercise gives you some food for
thought this month.

Peace and blessings to you!

      Pastor Steven †
SPLENDORA
COUNTRYSIDE
UNITED METHODIST CHURCH





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