Have you ever noticed how sometimes you need to hear things more than once to get the point? I’ve found myself lately realizing (though I think my staff have known it for quite some time) that I don’t read emails completely before I respond. Yes, it’s true — the writer is not a good reader.
I’m learning to slow down and re-read things. Otherwise, I find I get myself in trouble.
Jesus must have known that about his disciples. I’m sure he knew it about those to come, like me, because he often repeated things to make sure they were hearing and really listening to what he was saying.
There’s a difference, you know; hearing and listening. That’s probably why Jesus again had to say, “I am the vine — you are the branches.”
Before I go further, let’s read through the next set of verses in John, chapter 15. These are verses five through eight. Try adding them to your memorization goals this week.
“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.*
Jesus started off this teaching with these words, remember? “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.” He didn’t specifically say in that first part that the disciples were the branches, though he talked about them.
Dead branches get cut off; fruitful branches get pruned. Just in case you don’t get it, guys, you are the branches; I’m the vine you’re hanging onto.
Then he reminds them of something else by using the same word three times in four short sentences: Remain in me. Added to the four times he said it in the first section, that makes a complete seven! (And he’s not done using it, as we’ll see next week).
Do you know what I find interesting about that word, remain? It really doesn’t require anything. We just have to stick in there with Jesus, and he does the rest. Of course, it is an act of the will — it always is. God doesn’t make us do anything. Yet, that simple act of choosing to remain in Christ leads to something wonderful — fruit.
Fruit is the end result of remaining. Fruit is the way God gets the glory.
Seems like that should be easy enough. He’s not asking for us to have great abilities or do miracles or anything that seems hard. He’s only saying remain in The Vine; allow the life-giving juices of his Word to flow through our scrawny branches. The fruit is a guaranteed bi-product of his presence in our lives.
Will this reality change your prayers this week? Will it change your life and focus? Will it change what you look at, read, and watch?
I needed the reminder. How about you?
Grace and Peace
*John 15:5-8 (NIV).