Wednesday, February 27, 2013

John 15:4–8 The Sprout

It’s been said that the Bible only tells us what we need to know.  That definitely applies to this chapter.  God packs in a lot of advice for living, along with showing us how to live spiritually.  We ended last time partially discussing verse 4.  And I said there’s more.  The next several verses give us a great gardening lesson.  Both in earthly reality and spiritually.  The principles are the same.

John 15:4 (KJV)  Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.

Remember what we said about abiding.  It’s a long term condition, there’s peace and rest.  But look at the rest of the verse.  Tear a branch off a tree or bush.  What happens?  The branch stops growing and bearing fruit.  Just like a branch, we need that connection to Christ in order to grow and bear fruit.

John 15:5-8 (KJV)  I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.  If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.  If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.  Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.

There are a lot of different levels to this passage.  Jesus is the vine, but He’s also the Living Word and we’ve recently spoken of the water of the Word.  Consider how a plant develops.  It grows roots which take in water.  With that water come nutrients from the surrounding soil.  Cut the branch off and there’s no more food, no more life giving water.  The branch is now only good for firewood.  Jesus is saying that’s what happens when there’s no connection to Him and, through Him, to the Father.

Those of you who do any gardening might suggest that this could be disproved by what are called “cuttings”.  Cuttings are branches that are intentionally cut from a plant and immediately put in water.  The cutting will grow roots and, when those are mature enough, the cutting is planted in nutrient rich soil.  The end result is a new plant.  But that’s no contradiction.  The branch has to have reached a certain maturity before separation,  just like a missionary might be.  It’s then cut in a specific way to maximize root growth and increase in size.  That sounds just like the missionary, too.  That sprout is then put in the water (of the Word).  And, once the roots are there, it goes into the soil.

Spiritually, the branch starts getting the nutrients from the Father, via the Vine, carried by the water of the Word.  When it’s separated, there is special preparation so that the branch will take root and still be supplied by the water of the Word.  At the right point. it goes into soil to be fully fed by the Father, which will be carried by the water of the Word in the soil.  There are several things that eliminate total separation from the original plant.
  1. It comes from and goes to a nutrition source of the Father.
  2. It continues to be given life by the water of the Word.  And,
  3. as the branch develops its own identity, it’s still genetically connected to the original plant.  The life of the original is in the new plant created by cutting the branch away for further use.
Christ is still in us.  His life still empowers us.

We’re not talking about “lone ranger” Christianity.  That lacks the specialized preparation and the retained connections required for spiritual success.  And, just to be clear, the connection may be through a church, but it’s not to a church.  Yes, if we’re being spiritually well fed by a specific church, it’s to our benefit to maintain connection with that church.  But, if that’s not the case, it’s important to find a good church that helps our growth.  The real connection is to and through the Trinity.  But God uses the church to feed us and help us grow and mature.

How’re your connections, today?

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