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“I am the vine”

April 1, 2023
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Daily Scripture

John 15:1-5

1 I am the true vine, and my Father is the vineyard keeper. 2 He removes any of my branches that don’t produce fruit, and he trims any branch that produces fruit so that it will produce even more fruit. 3 You are already trimmed because of the word I have spoken to you. 4 Remain in me, and I will remain in you. A branch can’t produce fruit by itself, but must remain in the vine. Likewise, you can’t produce fruit unless you remain in me. 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, then you will produce much fruit. Without me, you can’t do anything.

Daily Reflection & Prayer

Historically, Israelites often saw themselves as part of a vineyard God tended (cf. Psalm 80:8-18, Isaiah 5:1-7). Jesus went beyond that image—the deepest linkage to God’s light and life was not in a national (or denominational) identity. It lay instead in a chosen spiritual connection to him: “I AM the true vine.” When his followers stayed united to him like branches to a vine, Jesus said, their lives would bear the fruit of love. Pastor Hamilton wrote, “The measure of spiritual maturity is love…. Whenever you’re trying to decide the right thing to do, you will never go wrong by asking, ‘What is the most loving thing I can do?’” *

  • You don’t have to be a great gardener to realize that any branch from a vine or tree that decided to “go it alone” would soon dry out and wither up. One key question Jesus’ words trigger is: what does it look like in practical, day-to-day terms for you to “remain” in Jesus? In what ways do your fellow believers help keep you “in Jesus”? How does your personal devotional life and taking part in community worship deepen your links with Jesus? Jesus knew where his mission of self-giving love was leading: “No one has greater love than to give up one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13). He did that physically the very next day on the cross. But it’s rare that any of us need to make that specific sacrifice. What does it mean, again in practical, day-to-day terms, for you to love others as sacrificially as Jesus loved you? How can healthy self-care be essential to equip yourself to love sacrificially?
Prayer

Lord Jesus, keep me connected to you today. Let me be a branch through which your divine love can flow freely to bless the lives of other people around me. Amen.

GPS Insights

Picture of Angie McCarty

Angie McCarty

Angie McCarty is an ordained elder from the Desert Southwest Conference of the United Methodist Church and moved to Kansas from Arizona in 2017. She is the Pastor of Senior Adult Ministry at Resurrection Leawood and the part-time pastor at Spring Hill United Methodist Church. She is currently enrolled as a doctoral candidate at Saint Paul School of Theology. Angie is married to Jonathan Bell, who also serves on staff at Resurrection. Together they have six kids, a live-in sister who is active in Matthew’s Ministry, and a totally joyful life.

Jesus tells us that greater love has no person that to lay down his or her life for someone else. If I dwell on this for too much time, my heart starts to race a little. I might even feel a few beads of sweat form on my brow. I really like living and I’m not excited at all of the thought that I’d be put in a position to lay down my life so that someone else might live. Jesus often spoke in hyperbole. I’m betting that’s what’s going on here.

Throughout history, we read of people who have given their lives for others. Our military personnel are prepared to do this in the midst of conflict and war. 9/11 was a day of heroic measures when first responders ran into buildings, taking others to safety, losing their lives in the process. In 2009, 18-year-old construction worker, Meulmar Magallanes rescued 30 people when Tropical Storm Ketsana hit the Philippines. “After hearing that a nearby river had jumped its banks, Magallanes helped move his family to higher ground as water engulfed his village. Then he went back to do the same for some 30 neighbors. After helping a mother and her infant off a makeshift raft, an exhausted Magallanes was lost in the water, his body recovered the next day.” He gave his life so that others might live. The willingness to lay down our life for others, just as Jesus did, shows nothing but love in its highest form. 

Could we love this extravagantly, this completely if given the chance? Are we willing to lay down our lives so that others might live? On a lesser scale the question becomes what are we willing to sacrifice so that others might live?  Would we sacrifice money?  If you found that a family in your neighborhood was dying of hunger would you go to the store to purchase food for them to eat for the week?  Probably. Would you go back the next week and do the same thing?   How many weeks in a row would you be willing to do that before you started thinking, “Ok…now it’s time that you get up and do this on your own.  I’m done saving your life.”  

What if that person who was dying from hunger didn’t have a face in your neighborhood but was a child living in KCMO where the poverty statistics are staggering? Would you be willing to donate $5 so that someone could have nutritious produce?  How about $10? How about $50 or $1000? Now it’s costing something…our sacrifice just grew.  

Not everyone is called to sacrifice their finances. Love looks like an emotional investment, time spent with others, supporting one another. How far am I willing to invest in another person? To the point where it costs something? 

I’ve asked a lot of reflective questions. Most of the time I skim over questions like this as rhetorical. Maybe we could all ponder these together, remembering the sacrifice of the cross. Our lives cost something. Our place in the kingdom of God was not free. Jesus’ sacrifice was messy, horrible, torturous. It was painful and ultimately cost Jesus’ life for nothing except extravagant love for humanity. I hope I can show a fraction of this love to the people in my life and to the stranger I have yet to meet.

© 2024 Resurrection: A United Methodist Church. All Rights Reserved.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
References

* Adam Hamilton, John: The Gospel of Light and Life. (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2015, pp. 103-104.)