“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinegrower.”  As Jesus has this final conversation with his disciples before he was arrested, he talks about the deep connection between God, himself, and the followers.  In this last chance to teach before everything comes apart, Jesus uses the image of a vineyard (an ancient image for the relationship between the people and God), adding himself as the vine.  God plants, tends, and cares for the vine and its branches, while Jesus is the very vine from which the branches grow.  Jesus is the source of nourishment, the place we are connected, and where we receive life and all the resources that lead to bearing fruit. 

What sort of fruit do these branches of Jesus bear? As we abide in Jesus, we bear love and compassion, hope and forgiveness, healing and inclusion, justice and new life.  As we are connected to Jesus and are nourished by his teachings and his presence, we are sustained by him and he shows through our lives.  As we abide in Jesus, he abides in us.  In John’s gospel, abide means a rich and deep connection . . . dwelling and gaining our identity from Jesus.

It may be distracting to read about God pruning the branches and removing those that don’t bear fruit.  Yet, we remember the deep commitment God has for us.  We consider a vinegrower who is passionate about the vines and branches in his care, experienced and knowledgeable about how best to nurture and help the branches bear the best and most abundant fruit they can each season.  God is the kind of vinegrower who tends the vine and its branches with an eternity of wisdom and patience, pruning where it is needed out of compassion and hope for the future, not anger or irritation or punishment.  

If it were mine to choose, I don’t know that I would pick this passage for finals week and the days leading up to the end of the academic year and graduation. However, as we prepare to go our separate ways for the summer, or leave the university and begin the next chapter of life, I am glad this week the gospel reminds us of God’s deep commitment for us, that we bear fruit as a result of abiding in Jesus as Jesus abides in us, and that God goes on nurturing and caring for us out of love and hope for all that we are today and all that we will be in the future.

Best of everything this finals week!



weekly prayer | Jesus talks about vines and branches in John 15

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