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Aug 29th, 2022
By: Matthew Sink
The Gospel of John-Day 61

John 15:1-11 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. 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. 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. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.

This winter has been one of the wettest in my memory. We’ve had tremendous amounts of rain nearly every week. The ground is soft. And this week, the wind has been brisk. Recently, during the night I heard the creaking sound of a tree that finally gave into the wind. It’s roots gave way and the tree crashed. Thankfully, no damage was done, but it got me thinking about his passage.

I do understand that Jesus is talking here about vines, not trees, but there is an underlying principle that ties this all together: the plant is only as strong as its roots. That is true for trees, and it is true for vines. If the root system is healthy, the plant will thrive. If the root system is weak, the plant will never produce good fruit, not will it withstand the elements.

You and I are like those plants. Wherever we are planted, we send roots out into the soil looking for nourishment and life. Where are you drawing from? See, the tragedy for our culture is that we have so many options – so many pools of water that appear nourishing and life-giving, but they are actually poison! Where are you drawing from? When we connect to the wrong source, we destroy ourselves from the inside-out.

But notice, the opposite is true, too. A life connected with Jesus is a life overflowing with joy and divine strength (i.e. Grace). We have confidence that God does in us what we could never do in ourselves. Even better, when we are connected to Christ, we produce fruit – our lives have lasting purpose – and we find that we can survive any storm that blows our way. No wonder Jesus couched his teaching by saying, “I’m telling you this so that your joy may be complete.”