How was Jesus to speak of the nature and implication of his new resurrection life. He was attracted to the native grape vine for its power to speak of the untold mysteries of the spirit of his new life and its impact upon his community of believers.
Lets not forget the importance of wine to the very survival of ancient people. Water was not so readily available in desert like countries. Wine supplemented it well. As water did, so did wine stand for life. In such a dry and arid world, the vine was a symbol of life that could grow from this unfriendly climate. That in itself, is a positive start for thinking of new life such as resurrection. Jesus embraces this image with both hands. I am the vine and you are the branches
One vital point that stands out is to ask, once Jesus resurrection appearances have stopped how is he to appear if at all? The vine is his way of saying I appear through my people. "I am the vine and you are the branches." Resurrection speaks of a spiritual union between God and people. This union is the essence of a new dynamic process of human being. Jesus the historical man has become the eternal spirit of the Christ of community.
Resurrection life was not just a one off history event with Jesus overcoming a once in a life-time death. It was the culmination of a process of dieing and rising to something greater. This is the story of the vine as Jesus presented. It is a process of growth and development, something new and unexpected emerging. Always something new refreshing and greater
Resurrection requires certain conditions to be in place and his description of the vine highlights it. Jesus emphasizes these essential conditions...
- You must be connected to that source of life.
- There is a regular process of pruning.
Life that is static will wither and die. And stagnation is as good as death.
CONNECTION TO THE SOURCE
Jesus is the vine and we are the branches.
The vine is the source. It is very difficult to determine the difference between the two, that is, where THE VINE stops and the BRANCHES start. But the essential point must be that as the vine, is rooted and grounded in the life giving soil, so must the being of Jesus be grounded and rooted in the being of God. The life of Jesus emanates from the divine source. Its’ primary branches spread out across the earth or the wall, we might say like the spirit covers the earth. From these the branches bearing the fruit of the tree emerge and flourish.
Jesus instruction is clear. Abide in my love. The two are one. I love the word abide, for it is a word of being not doing. Just be with. Share the presence of the other. Be renewed by the mutual indwelling.
Resurrection is the life of the risen Christ. We must abide in the spirit of resurrection if we are to know the same dynamic life of resurrection.
Now we face the most challenging part of resurrection experience. It requires pruning. But maybe surprisingly for two reasons, not just one.
1. So abundant is the life emanating from its source, that to grow with the same exuberance it requires a simultaneous trimming that enables an ever greater flourishing of its potential. Growth, development and transcendence emanates from abiding in the source and experiencing the constant trimming.
2. On the other hand, there are numerous reasons that will inhibit the growth that emanates from the trunk. A branch might be diseased, wither and die. It must be cut off and thrown away for its disease might spread. By cutting it off it may open up the chance for a new branch to emerge grow and produce new fruit.
I started by relating a web, a net and a vine. The other great spiritual lesson is the collective nature of life in Christ. Its strength is that we participate in something far grander than we might imagine. So often people mix up being personally responsible for the way we live with ones individual experience. People focus on their own individual spiritual experience. That is not the nature of resurrection.
Resurrection is a vine. It is a participating in the community of Jesus. We draw from and share with others in the nature of the risen Jesus. In Jesus words: ‘Where two or three are gathered together there am I in the midst’. This is its strength and we are never alone.
It’s amazing that much of Jesus teaching was about the life people were to know after he had left them. As he said, I will not leave you as orphans, I am going away so that I may come again and be with you.
Resurrection life is the dynamic process of ever-greater resurrection appearances. And those appearances are to happen through us. What better illustration than the image of the vine. We should treasure his words.
- ‘I am the vine and you are the branches.’ -