“Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned. But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.” John 15:5-8
It’s always a conflict for me when I come to Israel because of the Jews and their disbelief in Jesus. I truly believe they remain as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved. Yet, they have refused to believe the Son. They love God but have killed his anointed.
This however, does not, in my mind, make God love them less. (Any more than me and my sin that put Jesus upon the cross.) As a Father always loves his children, even those disobedient to him, so God loves Israel and is drawing them back to himself.
Jesus says clearly who he is — the true vine. We are his branches (i.e. originally this was written to the Jews). If we remain in him, and he in us, we will produce much fruit. What does it mean to remain? How much fruit is “much”? However, for those who do not remain in him, that branch is thrown away useless and withers. These branches, Jesus says, are gathered into a pile to be burned.
The good news that if we remain in him, and his words remain in us, we can ask whatever we want and it will be give to us. Jesus says when you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. And, he adds, this beings great glory to Father God.
Reading this I find myself asking many questions — how much fruit is “much?” What does it mean to remain in Jesus? What happens to the Jews who don’t believe Jesus? What happens to Christians and their churches who don’t bear fruit? What does it mean to ask whatever we want and it will be granted?
Perhaps at this point, with limited knowledge, faith and understanding, I lean upon that which I know. Jesus is Messiah— all are called to follow and believe. Those who do not are truly missing both abundant and eternal life. Remaining in him means we live in him, abide in him, rest in him, return to him. Like nonbelievers in the USA, Jews who don’t know Jesus have not received his Holy Spirit. This is biblical. Even like Christians churches in the USA who don’t put Jesus and his words first, will be like those branches that are put into a pile to be burned.
Thankfully for me, I judge no one. I say that which I read, understand to be true and have come to believe. The Good News of the gospel is that all are called to repentance and the forgiveness of sins. Those who trust Jesus will know the truth and his truth will set us free.
“O Lord, it’s another day in Israel. I am still upon the Sea of Galilee where I visited Capernaum, the Mount of Beatitudes, and Tabgha. Places where you spoke truth and performed a third of your miracles. Thank you for revealing yourself to me. When I was lost, you found me. When I was broken, you healed me. When I was ugly, you made me beautiful. Help me know your truth and live in your Word. Help me witness to the world with grace and love that many will come to know you. For you are good and your love endures forever.” Amen