GodReflection: God The Nurturer
No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me – Jesus
For sure, as a product of New Mexico’s Chihuahuan Desert, I know nothing about grapevines.
A second observation that should be obvious to any casual reader of the New Testament’s Four Gospels is Jesus, the Son of God and Mary was a gifted story teller.
He drew the perfect point from the local culture as he taught listeners anxious to hear what he had to say. Their familiarity with the objects of his illustrations made each the perfect vehicle to communicate a truth from Holy God.
Jesus uses the vine to teach about nutrition the night before he ends his physical walk on earth. His disciples wouldn’t have doubted the vine illustration. Pretty much the only liquid drinkable to which they had access came from the well or from the vine.
At once they recognized the agricultural validity of the story. Their challenge was whether or not to accept Jesus spiritual application of an illustration they knew to be true.
The next day Jesus would be crucified. What they failed to understand in full that evening was that their ultimate survival would be dependent upon vine sustenance. Jesus knew they must belong to the vine or they would die. Listen to what Jesus said to them and to us:
I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.
You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.
If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.
If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples (John 15:1-8).
Later that evening Jesus returned to the vine metaphor as he used the grape and the bread metaphor to establish a memorial to remind them and us of our dependency on the Holy Vine Jesus.
Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.
I tell you, I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”
When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives (Matthew 26:27-30).
Over the past two weeks an old L. O. Sanderson hymn surfaced in my mind anew. His gift as prolific author and composer of hundreds of hymns during the twentieth century blessed untold numbers of Jesus followers. I can still hear Theron Jay from our church on the New Mexico desert bring to life the Sanderson hymn as he drew our focus to sustenance from the vine:
Tis set the feast divine—The bread, the fruit of the vine—And saints commune before the shrine, In the supper of the Lord.
May we the Lord discern, His death our holy concern; We feast in faith, His coming yearn, In the supper of the Lord.
May we continue to belong. His promise is we will not die as long as we receive sustenance from the vine.
Dr. Gary J. Sorrells
A GodReflection: To Belong or To Die