Happy Tuesday! If you missed yesterday’s email, you can read it here.
Metaphor: Vine and branch 101 🌿 🍇
This verse’s connection to the boldest claim ever made 👀
A 2-sec reflection question ⌛️
Tuesday Trivia 📊
see if you know what words go in the blanks
I am ___ ____; you are ___ ________.
Whoever abides __ __ and I __ ___, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.
(Answer key below. You can also use our free web app to memorize in your favorite translation. Set up instructions are linked at the bottom of this email.)
🌿 The Gardener, Vine and Branches
Let’s dig into this rich metaphor.
First, a bit of background:
There are OT references that speak of Israel being a vine, planted and tended by God (example: see Ezekiel 17)
But instead of bearing good fruit, Israel repeatedly rebelled against God - it was a false vine.
With this in the minds of his hearers, Jesus calls himself the true vine - the One who will bear good fruit and perfectly glorify the Father.
a vineyard in the Negev desert
In short John 15 involves 3 parties:
A few things to note about the dynamics in verse 5:
‘I am the vine; you are the branches.’
Jesus is the vine. He is the source of life, from which we get the nutrients we need to live. Without him, we die spiritually.
We depend on him fully. The only way we can thrive, flourish or accomplish anything of eternal value is by staying connected to Him.
‘Whoever abides in me and I in him’
This isn’t a one way street - He also abides in us. God is relational. He is actively participating in this relationship. Just like in any intimate human relationship, he wants our heart. He wants to do life with us.
Our responsibility is to abide in him - to spend time with him, talk to him, know his Word and live it out.
‘he it is that bears much fruit’ -
Connection to God is offered as a free gift. Jesus doesn’t say, “Once you bear enough fruit, you can connect to me.” We’re offered connection first.
Fruitfulness is inevitable if we are truly connected to Jesus. It doesn’t require us to be super-Christians who are famous and speak on stages. It just requires connection.
💡 We’ll dig deeper into each of these phrases in John 15:5 throughout the rest of this week.
🗣️ The Boldest Claim Ever Made
The boldest claim someone could ever make is that they are God.
Throughout John’s gospel, Jesus makes 7 ‘I am’ statements:
I am the Bread of Life (John 6:35)
I am the Light of the World (John 8:12)
I am the Door (John 10:9)
I am the Good Shepherd (John 10:11,14)
I am the Resurrection and the Life (John 11:25)
I am the Way and the Truth and the Life (John 14:6)
I am the Vine (John 15:1,5)
Each time, the Greek phrase egō eime (pronounced eggo ay-me) is used for ‘I am.’
Some Bible scholars note that the repeated use of ‘I am’ echoes the way God identified Himself to Moses from the burning bush.
Moses asks God what he should say if the Israelites ask what God’s name is…
God said to Moses, “I am who I am.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel: ‘I am has sent me to you.’”
We also see in other places in John’s gospel that Jesus takes this name upon himself:
John 8:24 - "For unless you believe that I am, you will die in your sins",
John 8:58 - The crowd attempts to stone Jesus in response to his statement: "Before Abraham was, I am"
I love how confrontational this quote is:
“Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse…Jesus is either a liar, a lunatic, or he is in fact the Lord"
It’s easy to gloss over Jesus’ ‘I am’ statements because we’ve become so familiar with them.
But these statements were so bold that they caused people to want to kill Jesus for blasphemy.
These are extraordinary claims.
And they demand that we either ignore them as ludacris OR take them seriously as the very words of our Creator and our Lord.
I propose we take them seriously and act on them with urgency!
On a scale of 1-10, how connected are you to the true vine in your current season of life?
Wherever you are, ask God to help you connect with Him more deeply this week.
Throughout the rest of the week, we’ll talk about practical ways to ‘abide’ or ‘remain’ in Jesus 🌿
Click one of the options below. Let’s see how you do..
In John 15, Jesus says, "I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you _______."
I am the vine; you are the branches.
Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.
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