Wednesday 23 August 2017

Bible Book:

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine-grower. He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit.” (vv. 1-2)

John 15:1-6 Wednesday 23 August 2017

Psalm: Psalm 67


If you were to wander around Israel in Jesus' day the trees thatyou would find most often would not be oak or sycamore, but olive,fig and vine. Perhaps it is not surprising therefore that all ofthese are used as images in the Old Testament for the people ofGod, in a similar way that some writers like to compare the Englishcharacter to the 'sturdy oak'. In fact, the Old Testament is fullof references to Israel as God's vineyard or as a vine. While theimage was a common one, Andrew Lincoln, in his excellent commentary on John, suggests that the mainbackground to our passage today may well be Ezekiel 15:1-8; 17:1-10; 19:10-14. These use the same kind of ideas thatJesus used here - the vine, the idea of bearing fruit, thedistinction between the vine and its branches, and the issue ofuseless branches.

If Lincoln is right then here Jesus has taken a well-known imageand introduced one twist; that Jesus himself is now the vine.Presumably therefore, any of those who first read the John's Gospeland were Jews, would have been most struck by the idea that Jesusis now central to bearing fruit in God's vineyard.

There is also a nice word play in verse 2, which says that anybranch which does not bear fruit God will take away 'aire' and anyvine which does bear fruit God will prune 'kathaire', reminding usthat pruning also means taking something away. In verse 3 the wordthat Jesus used for clean comes from the same root, so we couldtranslate it as, 'You are already pruned because of the word that Ihave spoken'.

Of course, 'being pruned' could feel like a very negative imagefor discipleship, but it is a necessary one. At very least itreminds us that the difficult and painful experiences of life areoften the point at which we learn most about relying on God anddrawing spiritual help and sustenance from Christ.

To Ponder

  • What experiences have you had (or are you having) of beingpruned in Christ's service?
  • Is there any part of your life where pruning might benecessary?
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