Monday, May 15, 2017

Vine life

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TODAY’S SPECIAL: John 15:1-17

TO CHEW ON: 'These things I have spoken to you that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.'” John 15:11

Jesus here relates life in the vine to joy—the joy that comes as a result of “these things.” What things is He referring to?

If we read back, we find Jesus has described life with Him using the metaphor of a fruit-bearing vine. He has talked about “abiding” in the vine, being part of it, dependent on it for life. In fact, we risk being severed from the vine if we don’t “abide.” When we do, we are pruned to bear more fruit.

We get the idea that living this way contains elements of giving up a right to be separate, to choose one’s own way, be one’s own self-determining, egotistical self. There is also love in the mix—God’s love for Jesus playing out in Jesus' love for us.

Leaving the metaphor aside, we might ask, how does this look practically?

I think one word sums it up: OBEDIENCE: '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'” - John 15:10.

However, doesn’t “obedience” often conjure up visions of boring duty, being hemmed in by what we should and shouldn’t do, rather than what we want to do, feeling stymied by “don’ts” or guilt-ridden when we mess up?

Yet, following His description of the compliant vine, Jesus says:  'These things have I spoken to you that My joy may remain in you, that your joy may be full.'

What is He talking about? How does such surrender and obedience lead to joy?

The IVP NT Commentary gives this helpful insight:

But the obedience Jesus is talking about is an obedience not to societal rules, but to the Father who is all love. To obey him is to conform one's life to the very pattern of God's own life. Such obedience shares in his life, which is characterized by harmony, grace, goodness and beauty. We are in intimate union with him and swept up into his dance for which we were created and which brings the deepest fulfillment and deepest joy to our lives.

Jesus' joy came from such intimacy with the Father and his delight to do that which pleases the one who is all love and goodness.

Jesus is showing how our joy may be complete…. Indeed, we might ask ourselves, what does bring us joy. The answer will reveal to us our own hearts” - IVP NT Commentary on John 17:11 (accessed through Bible Gateway "Study This") emphasis added.

 That last question “What does bring me joy?”  is what I leave myself (and you) with today. If obedience to Him doesn’t bring us joy, we may discover why in the answer to that question.

Dear Jesus, help me to experience vine life and its end product of joy to the extent that You describe it here. Amen.

Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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