Yesterday at Covenant Community Church we handed out bookmarks with seven teachings of Jesus for people to read and study throughout the week. I promised I would blog on each of those scriptures, so here ya go:
The first scripture is John 15:1-17...take the time to read it, it's worth it.
One of my favorite ways to understand what Jesus has done for humanity is the recapitulation theory. For a more thorough examination you can go here. It basically recognizes that Jesus succeeded where Adam (and Israel) failed.
In John 15 when Jesus says "I am the true vine" his Jewish audience would've recognized the reference to the Old Testament imagery of Israel as God's "vineyard" or "vine" i.e. covenant people. The problem is that Israel as God "vine" meant to produce fruit in the world (i.e. be a blessing to other nations and people) often failed to produce the kind of fruit God expected. In contrast to Israel's failure, Jesus claims to be the "true vine" and by doing so fulfills Israel's destiny as the true vine of God. One Commentary puts it this way:
"As the paradigmatic vine, Jesus embodies God's true intentions for Israel: Jesus is the channel through whom God's blessings flow...Hence Jesus displaces Israel as the focus of God's plan of salvation, with the implication that faith in Jesus becomes the decisive characteristic for membership among God's people."
In other words salvation is now available to anyone who puts their faith in Jesus Christ as the messiah, Lord and savior.
When Jesus says in verse 4: "Remain in me as I also remain in you" it is an invitation to an intimate relationship. To remain in the "true vine" is to be connected in a deep, purposeful and meaningful way. It's to allow Jesus' ways to become our ways. Just as sheep hear the shepherds voice, so too remaining and abiding in Jesus (the true vine) means we will automatically produce the kind of fruit that honors God and makes life worth living.
Verses 5-8 are an invitation to make abiding and remaining in Jesus an ongoing intentional decision. Being a disciple of Jesus means we continue in our intimate relationship with Him. It's more than a one time decision to make him our savior, it's also a daily decision to obey Him as our Lord.
Verses 9-17 solidify the truth of Jesus' invitation to enter into a relationship Him. These verses answer the question: why does Jesus want us to "remain in Him?" The answer is: He genuinely loves us. Because He loves us He wants us to experience a life of joy found in choosing to love Him because of how much He loves us.
So let us be the kind of people who know we are loved and follow His command to also "Love each other."