October 5, 2016
Of the many great things my wife does, one of my favorites is to watch her garden. She has a great eye and knowledge gained through her Master Gardener training as well as years of life experience, learning from her mother as well as the hands on experience in the daily grind of the changing seasons. I’ve learned a lot too, by watching and by participating in the care for antique roses, plumbago, plamaria and passion vines, to name a few of my favorites. Seeing branches bloom brings a smile to my face and peace to my heart for I know they bloom because they are connected to the vine.
Even more so, my heart warms when I read about Jesus being the True Vine. As a branch, I am dependent on the vine for my source of nourishment in all aspects of life. Jesus is my source of strength, comfort, hope, and more. All in all, Jesus is my source of Life. After all, He had just finished telling His disciples (and me) that He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. (14:9) By God’s grace through faith, to these words I cling.
As a result of being connected to Jesus, His words tell me that I will obey His teachings. I will remain in His love. Again I hear about the Christian life of obedience. His call leads me to recognize my need for forgiveness and mercy. I am called to bloom; to bear fruit. This happens as I’m connected to the vine; as I remain in Him. I can’t bear fruit if I am apart from Him just as a branch doesn’t bear fruit if separated from the vine. Yet in Christ, as St. Paul writes, “I can do all things through Him who gives me strength.” (Phil 4:13) I’m reminded that my ‘blooming’ or bearing fruit is not dependent on my strength but the source of strength, the source of love and light that I’m connected to in the Vine. As I remain connected to Jesus by God’s grace through faith, I’m connected to His love. He is the True Vine of love. Just as the Father has loved Him, Jesus loves me. To this truth I also cling. Especially as Jesus points out that this world will hate me for following Him.
In this 15th chapter of John’s gospel, I’m moved from comfort and love in Christ to seeing a world that despises the things of God, including His people. (v. 18ff) Jesus doesn’t promise His followers that life on earth is going to be easy or peaceful as far as the world’s treatment of them goes. Instead, they (and I) will experience hate. Hate because the world of sin rejects the message of God’s love found in Jesus as Savior. The world doesn’t want to repent of its ways.
I don’t like being hated. I’d prefer peace and joy in this world. Unfortunately, apart from Jesus the world won’t experience such blessings. Yet, the love of God is found in Jesus. The Holy Spirit continues to bring this truth to me and others so that we can testify to His goodness.
PRAYER: Father in heaven, keep me in the love of Your Vine, Jesus, my Savior. Have mercy on me when I don’t bear fruit like I should. Work in me Your goodness of love so that I can be a branch on the Vine that is reflective of Your love. Amen.