Daily Reading & Meditation

Wednesday (May 21): "Abide in me, and I in you"

Scripture: John 15:1-8

1 "I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch of mine that bears no fruit, he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. 3 You are already made clean by the word which I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If a man does not abide in me, he is cast forth as a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire and burned. 7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you will, and it shall be done for you. 8 By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be my disciples.

Meditation: Why does Jesus speak of himself as the true vine? The image of the vine was a rich one for the Jews since the land of Israel was covered with numerous vineyards. It had religious connotations to it as well. Isaiah spoke of the house of Israel as "the vineyard of the Lord"(Isaiah 5:7). Jeremiah said that God had planted Israel "as his choice vine" (Jeremiah 2:21). While the vine became a symbol of Israel as a nation, it also was used in the scriptures as a sign of degeneration. Isaiah's prophecy spoke of Israel as a vineyard which "yielded wild grapes" (see Isaiah 5:1-7). Jeremiah said that Israel had become a "degenerate and wild vine" (Jeremiah 2:21). When Jesus calls himself the true vine he makes clear that no one can claim their spiritual inheritance through association with a particular people or bloodline. Rather, it is only through Jesus Christ that one can become grafted into the true "vineyard of the Lord".

Jesus offers true life - the abundant life which comes from God and which results in great fruitfulness. How does the vine become fruitful? The vinedresser must carefully prune the vine before it can bear good fruit. Vines characteristically have two kinds of branches - those which bear fruit and those which don't. The non-bearing branches must be carefully pruned back in order for the vine to conserve its strength for bearing good fruit. Jesus used this image to describe the kind of life he produces in those who are united with him - the fruit of "righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit" (Romans 14:17). Jesus says there can be no fruit in our lives apart from him. The fruit he speaks of here is the fruit of the Holy Spirit (see Galatians 5:22-23).

There is a simple truth here: We are either fruit-bearing or non-fruit-bearing. There is no in-between. But the bearing of healthy fruit requires drastic pruning. The Lord promises that we will bear much fruit if we abide in him and allow him to purify us. Do you trust in the Lord's abiding presence with you?

"Lord Jesus, may I be one with you in all that I say and do. Draw me close that I may glorify you and bear fruit for your kingdom. Inflame my heart with your love and remove from it anything that would make me ineffective or unfruitful in loving and serving you as my All."

Psalm 122:1-5

1 I was glad when they said to me, "Let us go to the house of the LORD!"
2 Our feet have been standing within your gates, O Jerusalem!
3 Jerusalem, built as a city which is bound firmly together,
4 to which the tribes go up, the tribes of the LORD, as was decreed for Israel, to give thanks to the name of the LORD.
5 There thrones for judgment were set, the thrones of the house of David.

Daily Quote from the early church fathers: Cleansed by Jesus' word, by Basil the Great, 329-379 A.D.

"The world, that is, life enslaved by the affections of the flesh, can no more receive the grace of the Spirit than a weak eye the light of a sunbeam. But the Lord, who by his teaching bore witness to purity of life, gives to his disciples the power of now both beholding and contemplating the Spirit. For 'now,' he says, 'you are clean through the word that I have spoken to you,' wherefore 'the world cannot receive him, because it does not see him... but you know him. For he dwells with you.' And this is what Isaiah says, 'He who spread forth the earth and that which comes out of it; he who gives breath to the people on it, and Spirit to them that trample on it' (Isaiah 42:5). For those who trample down earthly things and rise above them are shown to be as worthy of the gift of the Holy Spirit." (excerpt from ON THE HOLY SPIRIT 22.53)


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author Don Schwager © 2014 Servants of the Word

Scripture quotations from Common Bible: Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright 1973, and Ignatius Edition of the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright 2006, by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Citation references for quotes from the writings of the early church fathers.
 

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