Wednesday, 11 September 2013

I am the Vine

John 15 1-17

Jesus claims to be the true vine whose life whose life has demonstrated perfect oneness with God. He calls His disciples to share the life He has in the Father and become as fruitful as he is.
      1.    A dependent life         v1
A vine unlike other trees needs outside support and its branches need to be guided by a gardener. Jesus exercised in His life upon earth a complete dependency upon God the Father.
The vine grower often chooses to grow his crop in places where it is impossible to grow others. e.g on steep slopes. Golgotha, where Jesus was crucified was a desolate place that Jesus the true vine turned death into the source of life. If this was true for Jesus, it is true for those who joined Him. The Christian can    flourish in circumstances that would appear to be useless and difficult.

2.    A fruitful life              v5
The vine is cultivated, not for its wood but only for its fruit. God does not want us to simply be faithful, but fruitful as well.
An explanation of what Jesus means by fruit is found in Galatians 5:22. A fruitful life is one that is displays the qualities listed. They are all qualities which are seen in Jesus Christ as he lived, not in a greenhouse but out in the world where ordinary people could taste the fruit of his character.  As people had a “taste” of his life their lives were transformed.  In turn they become the fruit of His life. The same pattern is seen in us. God wants to see us bearing a godly character through which others are grafted on to the vine.

     3.  A unified life       v 4
As a branch will wither and die without the sustaining life of the vine, so all our attempts to produce Christian character will be fruitless and frustrating apart from a continuing fusion of our life to His.
Until we believe this we will never experience the Christian life God intended. Real fruit must grow out of life.

4.    A disciplined life
The Gardener, God continually works on the branches so that they can best receive life from the vine and bear fruit. 
There are three kinds of branches in John 15
a) A branch that is in Christ but bears no fruit. V 2a
A healthy grapevine puts out new shoots which grow into branches. These new branches often grow along the ground in the dirt and in the dark.  Although they are alive, they can’t produce fruit. The gardener lifts these branches up onto the trellis out of the dirt to get the needed light from the sun.
Greek word “airei” translated “cuts off” or “takes away” also means “LIFT UP.”   

b) The branch that is in Christ and bears fruit v 2b
God prunes this branch.  Left unrestrained a healthy branch of a vine will  grow rapidly but directs energy into producing leaves and not fruit.  Humans also pour energy and effort into the wrong things.  The Father has to remove the good in order for us to be able to bear the best.  Pruning is often immediately painful but is productive in the long term.

c) The branch that does not remain in the vine v 6“
If we don’t remain fused to Christ or let God lift us up then we are in danger of becoming a fruitless branch which the gardener has no choice but to get rid of.
The condition for fruitfulness lies in the phrase, “Remain in me.”
It literally means to stay closely connected and to settle in for the long term”
God invites us to get more deeply attached to Him.  His purpose is not that you will do more for Him but that you will choose to be more with
Reflection                                                                                                                                                    1.Which of the 7 I am sayings of Christ in John speaks most to you?            
2. What is there in John 15 that challenges and encourages you?              
3. What other “vines” compete for influence in your life?                              
4. What experience have you had of your life flourishing in difficult circumstances? 
5. Identify ways that we can remain in Jesus more closely (v 6-7)              
6. What is the fruit that Jesus talks about?                                                        
7.Why do so many Christians become frustrated in their efforts to be like Christ  
8. Vines need to be pruned regularly to train them to grow correctly. What pruning work has God done in your life?  Are there ways in which you are being pruned at the moment?    

God bless

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