Saturday, May 17, 2014

John 15 – Branches, Abide in the Vine

Jesus said to his disciples on that fateful night he was betrayed by Judas Iscariot – one of the Twelve, “I am the true Vine. My Father is the One Who cares for the Vine. He takes away any branch in Me that does not give fruit. Any branch that gives fruit, He cuts it back so it will give more fruit. You are made clean by the words I have spoken to you. Get your life from Me and I will live in you. No branch can give fruit by itself. It has to get life from the vine. You are able to give fruit only when you have life from Me. I am the Vine and you are the branches. Get your life from Me. Then I will live in you and you will give much fruit. You can do nothing without Me.
“If anyone does not get his life from Me, he is cut off like a branch and dries up. Such branches are gathered and thrown into the fire and they are burned. If you get your life from Me and My Words live in you, ask whatever you want. It will be done for you.
“When you give much fruit, My Father is honored. This shows you are My followers. I have loved you just as My Father has loved Me. Stay in My love. 10 If you obey My teaching, you will live in My love. In this way, I have obeyed My Father’s teaching and live in His love. 11 I have told you these things so My joy may be in you and your joy may be full.”
— John 15:1-11 (NLV)
Jesus is the Vine.   The Father is the Vinedresser.   We are the branches.
~~~ ROLE ~~~
Roles are important in life. If we play on any sort of team, whether it’s a work team or a sporting team, it’s vital that we play the role we have agreed to play. If the team is let down, we pray it’s not us in our roles that’s letting the team down. We want to be playing our role.
Our role is to remain connected to the Vine. (The word ‘remain’ is a key metaphor for John 15.) If we do not remain, meaning we break connection to the Vine, we no longer bear good fruit and, worse, the poor and dead fruit is not pruned from us. Our Christ-likeness diminishes in form. Our character becomes less like Christ by the day we remain disconnected; where we no longer remain in Christ.
John 15 is about the character pruning process. Jesus wants us to be able to submit for pruning by complete instinct; that we would become instinctive to the call of the Holy Spirit – submitting in the moment to be refined in humility.
Now, nobody really likes the character pruning process. It’s painful.
But in the wordplay between “trimming” (Gk. kathairo) in John 15:2b and “you are made clean” (Gk: katharos) in John 15:3 there is a connection made between the words.
By being trimmed of that dead foliage in our spiritual lives we are made clean; that by being trimmed we are made clean; even, evidence of trimming is evidence of cleansing, or sanctification.
This is incredibly encouraging; there is an instant and direct benefit in being trimmed. We are cleaned or purged clean or made clean as a direct result. No doubt exists that it won’t or mightn’t happen.
Growth does occur when we continue on the discipleship journey.
To remain in Jesus is to abide in the Vine as good fruit-growing branches would. We get our life from Jesus, yet the Father prunes us of dead fruit and to encourage growth from fruitful branches in our lives. When we are pruned we are also made clean. Being humbled has a direct connection to growth.
© 2014 S. J. Wickham.

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