John 15:2 He [the Father] removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes [and cleanses] to make it bear more fruit. [NRSV]
Facts: Artful pruning of a grapevine is what produces better fruit and maintains the optimal health of the branches. The pruner determines which branches should be allowed to grow and which should be removed. The only shoots that yield grapes are those that grow each spring from one-year-old canes – those that began growing the previous year. Pruning is vital for the vine because old canes can still produce leaves that make a branch look good but only sap the strength and ability of the newer canes to produce fruit. It’s all about the fruit.
Truth: Jesus speaks in pictures I can understand. There is no substitute for new growth and how it contributes to fruit bearing and a healthy life of faith for the believer in Jesus Christ. I know how easy it is to look pretty good based on what has already happened in your life of faith. I know what it’s like to resist the pruning of things that were real and good “then” but are old now. I know the pruned branch looks really bare and exposed until new growth appears. I know the purpose of pruning is the fruit…and I know the purpose of grapes.
Inspiration: What turns the grape into wine? It is crushed and then in due time when the process is through, the wine will be new. You’ll be my wine in this world. 💕Jesus
II Corinthians 5:20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
Being an ambassador “…as though God were making his appeal through us” become more real to me this week. I wanted to implore these people I really care about but instead my appeal was full of frustrated emotion and more loaded with the need to persuade than the desire that anyone might be reconciled to God. It’s so easy to spout off when you get your mouth and emotion involved. The fact is being an ambassador for Christ has obligations of grace.
I lost track of the reality that grace at it’s most basic level is God working to give me time to change. My motivation was more of the problem than my words were, and I blew it. I disappointed myself, and my two best advocates, Christ and my husband. It’s been a reminder to me of the obligation of, and my need for, grace AND it’s purpose.
Forgiveness has bound me to these people and grace in a new way AND loosed me to transformation “so that in him [Christ] we might become the righteousness of God”…together.
* 2 “I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. 3 If I send them home hungry, they will collapse on the way, because some of them have come a long distance.”
* 5 “How many loaves do you have?”
* 12…“Why does this generation ask for a sign? Truly I tell you, no sign will be given to it.”
* “Watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees and that of Herod.”
* 17…“Why are you talking about having no bread? Do you still not see or understand? Are your hearts hardened? 18 Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear? And don’t you remember? 19 When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many basketfuls of pieces did you pick up?”
* 20 “And when I broke the seven loaves for the four thousand, how many basketfuls of pieces did you pick up?”
* 21…“Do you still not understand?”
* 23… “Do you see anything?”
* 26…“Don’t even go into the village.”
It seems like all Jesus has been doing is miraculous signs and yet the Pharisees still want him to prove himself with a sign they recognize. I wonder about recognizing signs. Did the crowd of 4000 realize what had actually happened to provide them food? Probably not. I’m guessing as that basket passed by they we’re just grateful that they’d been able to sit close enough so there was still food in it for them. It all seemed completely normal.
Barclay: “The whole tendency of the age in which Jesus lived was to look for God in the abnormal… They wished to see some shattering event blazing across the horizon, defying the laws of nature and astonishing men…”
The crowd, his own disciples, the Pharisees and even those Jesus healed all understood the greater miracles. The challenge for Jesus was to open their ears and eyes to recognize the greater purpose that God was revealing himself to them across the spectrum of life’s needs. That’s still his challenge and purpose. “Do you see anything?”