REFLECTION FOR SUNDAY 17TH MAY 2020
In the beginning when it was very quiet, the Word was with God.
AND WHAT GOD WAS, THE WORD WAS.
In the beginning when it was very dark, God said, “Let there be Light”
AND THERE WAS LIGHT
When the time was right God sent his Son.
HE CAME AMONG US, HE WAS ONE OF US.
Over the last week, we have been reflecting together on the I AM sayings of Jesus as contained in John’s gospel.
At the beginning of the gospel John states that “the Word (Jesus) became flesh and made his dwelling among us.”
When He walked this earth 2000+ years ago, He spoke to people of great things like life, the world, salvation, resurrection and truth.
But He always spoke of them with simple words and images that His listeners could easily understand. He spoke of the “bread” of life - the “light” of the world - “doors” and “sheep” - “good shepherds” - path-“ways”…
And one evening in Jerusalem, sitting at His last Passover meal with His twelve disciples, eating bread and drinking wine, He spoke these words:
“I AM THE TRUE VINE,
and my Father is the gardener…
Remain in me, and I will 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 a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit;
apart from me you can do nothing…
This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit,
showing yourselves to be my disciples.
As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you.
Now remain in my love.
If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love,
just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love.
I have told you this so that my joy may be in you
and that your joy may be complete.
My command is this:
Love each other as I have loved you.
Greater love has no one than this that he lay down his life for his friends…
You did not choose me, but I chose you
and appointed you to go and bear fruit -
fruit that will last.”
(John 15: 1, 4-5, 8-13, 16)
The twelve disciples knew all about vineyards, and vines, and gardeners, and grapes.
No doubt in their three years of walking around Israel with their Master, they had wandered through numerous vineyards, eaten many grapes, and had some wine. For JESUS to state that He was THE TRUE VINE a clear picture would come into their minds.
Jesus would go from this last meal with his friends and be delivered into the hands of those who wished him dead, and the next day he would be crucified.
Dark days were ahead, and Jesus wanted His friends, not only those eleven, but those of all time, to know that He was not going to desert them, even though they would no longer enjoy His physical presence. His living energy, His spiritual reality, would continue to nourish and sustain them just as the roots and trunk of a grape vine produce the energy that nourishes and sustains its branches while they develop their fruit.
Jesus wanted us to know that, even though we cannot see Him, we are as closely connected to Him as the branches of a vine are connected to its stem. Our desire to know and love Him and the energy to serve Him will keep flowing into and through us as long as we “abide” in Him.
Jesus went on to remove any misunderstanding about what He meant .
He said that no branch can even live, let alone produce leaves and fruit, by itself. Cut off from the trunk, a branch is dead. Just as a vine’s branches rely on being connected to the trunk from which they receive their energy to bear fruit, Jesus’ disciples depend on being connected to Him for their spiritual life and the ability to serve Him effectively.
The fruit we produce is that of the Holy Spirit—love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22–23).
And you will perhaps remember these words from when we looked recently on the Fruit of the Spirit. And, we remember too, that as we abide in Christ the Vine, he, through the power of the Holy Spirit will prune away anything in our lives that stunts our growth.
Our source of life and spiritual fruit is in Christ Jesus. We can live, and serve Him effectively only if we are rightly connected to Him in a faith/love relationship.
Pruning can seem drastic and feel painful, (I’ve known that all too well, during the past 18 months,) but it is necessary and all for our good.
d to be untangled for bitterness or jealousy or greed...........the Lord will know, and if we can allow him to see what needs trimming and ask him to heal us, then He will do so.
I have a sense that a pruning is taking place in these days in the lives of Christians, and in the Church. I truly believe that the Vine Dresser is doing a huge work, and Jesus is simply saying. "Abide in me, and let me abide in you. Let all that has been stunting your growth be cut away and wait and see how you blossom and bear fruit as never before."
Friends, we have come to the end of our reflections on the I Am sayings, and I leave you now with this prayer by the late Ian Cowie. ( Who was an encouragement to me as I began to explore the healing ministry of Jesus.)
BREAD : Lord Jesus, your Word is food and drink for us. Help us to feed upon you day by day that we may have the strength to do your work.
THE VINE : As branches linked together in the Living Vine, may we be so linked with each other and with you that our common life may prove fruitful to the glory of God.
LIGHT : Lord Jesus, light up our lives with your love. Dispel the darkness within us, and light up the way ahead.
SHEPHERD : You are indeed our Shepherd, so we trust you to led us through the green pastures of life and through its dark valleys bringing us safely home at last.
RESURRECTION : Lord Jesus, we give you thanks that now there are no dead ends in life, and even death itself is an open door. Put new life into us, and raise us up to new heights of living in this world and in the next.
THE WAY, THE TRUTH, THE LIFE : You are the Way into the future and we will walk your Way of the cross.
You are the Truth which will never let us down, and we will trust in your Truth.
You are the Life which death itself cannot destroy, and we will live for you.
May God bless you in this coming week,
May God bless you in this coming week,