Ash Wednesday Meditation on the Vine

Vine head before pruning: notice the multiple canes coming from the gnarly head. Photo by D. Robinson

JOHN 15:1-10

Ash Wednesday Meditation

February 18, 2015

 I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.

  • One of the 7 great I AM statements! These I AM statements are radical identity statements about the innermost character and identity of Jesus.
  • Jesus is the “true vine”: genuine, real, not plastic, not an imposter
  • Vine/Vineyard: Ancient agricultural practice of planting vines, planting vineyards, to grow grapes, fruitfulness. Describe Vine design.
  • My Father, the gardener, GEORGOS—Literally: “worker of the soil”, the farmer who works with the soil to produce fruitful crop.

He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.

  • Intention of the Vineyard Farmer: fruitfulness, harvest, grow grapes!
  • BEARING FRUIT (7xs in this passage!): literally, a fruiting cane carries the clusters of grapes. Need strong fruiting branches to be able to carry the weight of the clusters. Bearing Fruit. Carrying the weight of Fruitfulness in our lives.
  • Concern of the Vineyard Owner: fruitlessness, bearing no fruit, too weak to carry fruit, too disconnected to Vine to bear fruit.
  • Pruning (Gk:KATHEREO, to clean, prune, purify, purge; name Katherine, Cathy based in this Greek word):
  • Pruning is a necessary, normal activity in every vineyard in the world. I heard my friend say outloud as she was pruning her vines, “Let’s clean this one up” as she trimmed off stubs, knobs, extra canes growing out of the vine head, concern about mold, rot, diseases getting into the vine at the source of growth.

You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

  • Verse 3 Jesus does a play on words with pruning/clean: Same Word in Greek.
  • Jesus makes us clean, prunes us because of the “word Jesus speaks to us.” What Word is Jesus speaking to you this Lenten Season, by which God will be cleansing you, pruning you, making your life more spiritually fruitful?
  • REMAIN! Command! Gk: MEINATE! Stay, dwell, attach, stabilize, remain, stay put, relational connection of stability. Remain is used 11xs in these 10 verses.
  • Remain is Closeness to Christ: you REMAIN in me, I will REMAIN in you
  • Opposite of Remaining: cut off, detached, by itself, doing nothing, apart from me, wither, bear no fruit. Listen to the language Jesus uses in verse 5-6.

I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.

  • In a few weeks, I’ll go out to my friend’s vineyard for a “brush pulling party”. Vines will all have been pruned by then, a process that takes several weeks (5000 vines). Deadwood that has been cut off from the vine, detached from the Vine, will need to be pulled off the trellis wires, piled, burned. She told me they always have a BBQ dinner and people bring guitars, mandolins, make music, sing together the beginning of the new growing season. Pruning Celebration!

If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love.

  • Here is the “Fruitfulness” Jesus looks for in our lives:
    • Prayer: Ask whatever you wish and it will be done for you. We ask according to the designs/desires of our Father, the Vineyard Owner, and according to the purposes of the Vine to whom we are remaining.
    • Glory: to glorify God in all we do and say.
    • Witness: to show ourselves to be connected to Jesus, to be his disciples.
    • Love: the highest, most beautiful fruit of the Spirit. Remain (MEINATE!) in my love. Keep my commands, remain in my love, as I remain in my Father’s Love. Let all we do this Lent be done in LOVE, in our love for Jesus Christ, the Vine who desires us to bear much fruit, clusters of God’s Love growing in our lives as we remain in Christ!

vinehead 2

 Same vine head now pruned, with just one “fruiting cane” and one “renewal spur” on each side of the head.