The Gospel According to John – 2018.04.29
The gospel reading for today comes from a place of division and fear in the early church.
Sadly, it is a theme we found often repeated.
It is right and good to say that Jesus is the vine, and God the vine dresser.
We understand that the vinedresser takes care of the whole plant; from root to branch and stem.
The vine dresser prunes, and binds, and brings to flower the fruit that produces the good wine.
The vine dresser does not kill the vine.
God is the creator of all that is. Everything that is comes through vine, as the introduction to John’s Gospel attests:
In the beginning was the word and all things came to be through him, all things are in him, and not one thing exists without him.
The vine weaves through all creation, it touches every person, it sustains every living breathing thing, and undergirds the whole created order.
Everyone is in the vine, Christian and non-Christian alike, the good, the bad and the ugly.
When the writers of John’s Gospel were writing this, they were concerned with the faithfulness of their members. They drafted warning for those they thought would betray them, and provided a rationale for excluding those whom they thought had done so.
This was a betrayal of the faith. Remember Jesus who forgave the men who murdered him, even while he was dying on the cross. Remember Peter, who denied him, and Paul who persecuted Christians. They were all in the vine, each and every one, both in their faithfulness, and in their most faithful moments.
I Am the Vine, You are the Branches
Jesus said to his disciples:
‘I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that bears no fruit he cuts away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes to make it bear even more. You are pruned already, by means of the word that I have spoken to you. Make your home in me, as I make mine in you. As a branch cannot bear fruit all by itself, but must remain part of the vine, neither can you unless you remain in me.
I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me, with me in him, bears fruit in plenty; for cut off from me you can do nothing. Anyone who does not remain in me is like a branch that has been thrown away – he withers; these branches are collected and thrown on the fire, and they are burnt. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask what you will and you shall get it.
It is to the glory of my Father that you should bear much fruit, and then you will be my disciples.’
Fifth Sunday of Easter