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John48 – the true […], the vine

“I myself am the true, the vine, and my father is the grower. Every offshoot not bringing fruit in me he takes, and everyone bringing fruit he cleanses it in order that it may bring more fruit.  You are already clean through the word that I have spoken to you.” (John 15: 1)
John, the first century eye-witness biographer of Jesus of Nazareth is continuing to recall the evening before his AD 30 crucifixion in Jerusalem. Earlier Scriptures, before Jesus came, had referred to the people of Israel as the vine (the family tree) of the LORD God bringing their promised Messiah. 

Now Jesus teaches that he is the true vine. Offshoots of him are cleansed by the grower through him. They, as offshoots of him, are to bring fruit in him. 

“Stay in me!  I also in you. Just as the offshoot is not able to bring fruit from itself if it may not stay in the vine, in this way not even you, unless you may stay in me. I myself am the vine; you the offshoots.”

Jesus indicates what is to be their part in the plan of father and son to bless some human beings into eternity. They are to “stay” in him, to dwell in him, to abide in him. Also, he in them. He is the vine. Those who believe into him are offshoots of him to bring fruit. Is that how Jersey Christians see themselves?

“The one staying in me - also I in this one—this one brings much fruit, in that apart from me you are able to do nothing. If anyone may not stay in me, that one is put outside like an offshoot, and is withered, and they gather them and put into the fire, and they are burning.”

What is this “much fruit”? Given that Jesus himself is the vine, maybe it is best to interpret what he means by “fruit” by reference to human beings who become like him. Does the fruit brought into the vine actively demonstrate the being and nature and life of Jesus, his righteousness and his abundant mercy? “Much fruit” may not be how many but how much resembling the vine.

“If you may stay in me and my messages may stay in you, ask that which you may desire and it will come to be for you. My father is glorified in this: that you may bring much fruit, and may come to be my disciples.”

Essential to the bringing of “much fruit” into the vine in staying in Jesus and his messages staying in his disciples. Essential too is their ability to ask the father, whose glory it is that “you may bring more fruit” “into the vine”.

“Just as the father loved me and I have loved you stay in this, my own love! If you keep my commands, you will stay in my love, just as I myself have kept my father’s commands and am staying in his love. I have spoken these things to you in order that my own joy may be in you, and your joy may be filled full. This is my own command: that you love one another just as I loved you. No one has greater love than this: that anyone may set down his human-life on behalf of his friends.” 

Jesus asks them to “stay” in their “love-in-action” of him who will shortly die in their place. Their “love-in-action” of “one another” will be the “joy” of following of Jesus in also “putting-down” their lives on behalf of others.

“You yourselves are my friends if you may do what I myself command you. No longer do I state to you “slaves”, because the slave has not discerned what his lord is doing. In fact, I have said to you “friends,” because everything that I heard from my Father I made known to you.”

To be friends of the Son of Man and Son of God is an indescribable privilege.

“You yourselves did not choose me, but I myself chose you and set you down in that you may go and may bring fruit and your fruit may stay, in order that anything you may ask the father in my name he may give you. These things I command you: that you may love one another.”

These AD 30 disciples are those Jesus, at that time, chose to bear fruit for him. His purposes were, first, so that they might be able to ask and receive from his father; second, so that they might indeed love-in-action one another.

Jesus himself said (and this remains correct today in this broken human world) that the first commandment of all is to love the LORD your God with all your being (ask and receive from the father); and the second is to love-in-action your neighbour as yourself. That’s why he died a few hours later. 

Sinner Syvret

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