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abide in love

”I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinegrower. He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit. You have already been cleansed by the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing. Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete. “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another. (John 15:1-17, NRSV)

Love one another and abide in me.

Jesus tells the disciples how they are connected to Him in a way they can understand. Some scholars even believe that Jesus was walking through a vineyard when this discussion happened, because there was a vineyard close by where they would have been walking that night, as you see this is part of the farewell discourse that happened the night He was arrested. Jesus is the vine that runs between us and connects us together and with the Father and when we abide in Him, we abide in each other and the Father.

So if we abide in Jesus we will bear fruit. We will bear the fruit of love.

So abide in love and bear the fruit which the world needs.

 

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abide

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinegrower. He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit. You have already been cleansed by the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing. Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples. (John 15:1-8, NRSV)

I read this passage again this year, and this time I was struck by the word abide…

“Abide in me as I abide in you.” Is how verse 4 starts. And in the Greek we have the word μενω 7 times in verses 4 – 7. (3 times in verse 4, once in 5 and 6 and 2 times in 7) It is used once in every verse. Yes you will tell me if you look at it, the word abide is in there 8 times. Yes in the English translations we have the word appears 8 times for it to make more sense. But actually this first part of verse 4 only has the word once. A better translation of “Abide in me as I abide in you.” is “Abide in me as I am in you.”

And that is the point here.

We are to abide in Jesus.

We are to stay in Jesus.

We are to trust in Jesus.

We are to depend on Jesus.

You see Jesus is telling His disciples that they are all intertwined and support each other, but they are only dependent on Him. The image of the vine is a beautiful one, and we can assume Jesus was walking with His disciples through a vineyard as He was telling them this.

You see a mature vine with branches is a wonderful living thing. The branches are all intertwined and they support each other, however the branches are not dependent on the other branches for survival, for that they need to vine. And the branches don’t decide who is not producing fruit and get cut away, or who need a snip here or there to help them produce more fruit, that is the gardener or the vine dresser.

And the thing we have to remember is even when we abide in the vine, we still get pruned. We still get cut back, because uncontrolled growth is not good and the vine dresser knows what is best for the branches.

So stay, remain, live in Christ as He is in you! And don’t worry about the other branches, just support them in their life in the vine, and rest in His grace.

 

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chose who…

John 15:9-17 continues the gospel lesson from last week, the final discourse from John where Jesus teaches the disciples about the vines and branches. How we are all interconnected…

We are all branches and leaves interconnected to the vine. We get cut off and thrown away, or pruned back so we produce more fruit. And because we are connected to Jesus, the vine, we are suppose to love others.

But the point I caught today is something we all know is true and know for a fact. We as Lutherans like to point it out all the time, we can do nothing to obtain the grace we have been given. Jesus chose us, we did not choose Him. He chose us to be a part of the branches and attached to the vine.

We have no choice on when we get in, or if. Jesus chose us and called us to be His children, His friend, and He wants us. And He chose us. And while we are a part of the vine, an important branch that produces fruit for the kingdom, we have no choice of the branches or leaves next to us. Jesus chooses who He wants, and we have no say in that. We are called to love everyone…

Reminded me of a story I have heard many times:

I was shocked, confused, bewildered
As I entered Heaven’s door,
Not by the beauty of it all,
Nor the lights or its decor.

But it was the folks in Heaven
Who made me sputter and gasp–
The thieves, the liars, the sinners,
The alcoholics and the trash.

There stood the kid from seventh grade
Who swiped my lunch money! Twice.
Next to him was my old neighbor
Who never said anything nice.

Jerry, who I always thought
Was rotting away in hell,
Was sitting pretty on cloud nine,
Looking incredibly well.

I nudged Jesus, ‘What’s the deal?
I would love to hear Your take.
How’d all these sinners get up here?
God must’ve made a mistake!

‘And why’s everyone so quiet,
So somber? – Please give me a clue.’
‘Hush, child,’ He said, ‘it’s because
they’re all in shock.
No one thought they’d be seeing you.’

So love as Jesus loved you and chose you to be a part of the fruit producing kingdom even when you did not deserve it, and don’t judge who Jesus chooses because they are probably ready to judge you!

 

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pruned…

John tells us the I am statements of Jesus. These are important because I am is the name that God gave to Moses at the burning bush. I am is the name of God. And in John Jesus expands on this understanding through  the I am statements. This Sunday’s I am is the vine.

We all have heard this story from John 15:1-8 before. Jesus says, “I am the vine you are the branches. All who do not bear fruit are removed. If you remain in me you will bear much fruit but if not you will be thrown into the fire.” All branches that do not bear fruit are removed by God, the master gardener and thrown away. So you better make sure you are good and follow after God, because you will be removed if you do not do what is right and in the path of God…

Well that is not what it said. Hopefully you caught that I did not quote John 15 correctly. Now would be a good time to stop and read John 15:1-8. Here is a link to the NRSV of this text.

Did you get that. Jesus identifies himself and the father first. Then he talks about branches. Who are the branches? He has not defined that yet. It is not until later when He says that branches can not bear fruit by themselves it is only when they stay in contact with the vine that they can produce fruit. But he identifies himself and the father, then says branches that do not produce are removed. This is not what worries me. It is the next part, that all branches that do produce fruit are pruned so they will produce more fruit. So if you are connected to God and are producing fruit He is going to prune you, cut you back, and remove the parts that are in the way so you can produce more. So we will be cut and trimmed by God to produce more and better fruit. He will take each of us and trim us and mold us to bear more and better fruit. But remember He is the master gardener. He will work with us and mold us to be the best we can and apart from him we can not produce.

Jesus tells us we are the branches and we will produce fruit if we stay connected to him. So take the pruning, the waiting, the uncertainty, the questioning, the things that make no sense to us now, because God is using these things to work in and through us to help us to produce more and better fruit. Allow the master gardener to prune you and know that He is always working in and through you…

 

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