Fifth Sunday of Easter 6.5.12 John 15.1-8

26 04 2012

Abide in Me

The metaphor of the vine and the branches is deceptively simple. It raises questions of theological identity, divine judgement and consequences.

Notice the repeated use of the word ‘abide’. In the AV it was also found in the Emmaus Road story, ‘Abide with us because it is toward evening, and the day is far spent’  (Luke 24.29)  And from there it inspired the great hymn, ‘Abide with me’. It is a deep and poetic word. A word worth time.

grapes or vine

John 15.1-8

Jesus said, ‘I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine-grower. 2He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit. 3You have already been cleansed by the word that I have spoken to you. 4Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. 5I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing. 6Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. 7If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.

Reflections and Questions

‘my father is the vine-grower’ v 15 I wonder whether we sometimes overlook this because of the power of the previous image of Jesus as the vine.

Why does God work for the growth of the vine? What does reflection about this do to your understanding of the meaning of ‘growth’?

‘Abide in me as I in you.’ v 4. It is interesting that the translators have kept this slightly archaic but deeply poetic and resonant word.   

Might repetition of ‘abide’ work well in the rhetoric of a sermon on this passage?

‘My father is glorified’ v8  This is the heart of things. This is what matters. But the word ‘glory’ is not quite as simple to understand as we might hope, not least because John insists on connecting glory with the cross.

How do you connect the cross and the vine?

‘you bear much fruit and become my disciples’ v8 

Bearing fruit and discipleship seem to be joined at the hip.

Does that surprise you? 

Fruit stall in a market in Barcelona, Spain. F...