May 2, 2021: I Am the True Vine


Fifth Sunday of Easter

“I Am the True Vine”

I have always thought of the Gospel of John as the “I Am” Gospel. I Am is a figure in Jesus’ speech many times. As Jesus tries to help people understand God and heaven, he uses examples from agriculture that they would understand. In today’s lesson, Jesus is the true vine. Vines or vineyards are symbols for Israel, so when Jesus says he is the true vine, he is saying he is the true Israelite, the one in covenant with God. God is the vine grower and trims off any branches that do not bear fruit, and prunes those that do bear fruit so that they bear more fruit.

One of the advantages of living in eastern Pennsylvania is several vineyards in the area. They all give tours and explain the process of producing wine, including care of the vines. At last, a story that I can fully relate to. Jesus, the true vine, tells us to “abide” in him; to stay with or dwell in the love of Jesus. This provides us the new covenant with God. We are the branches of the vine; without the vine we can do nothing. Our abiding with Jesus and Jesus’ abiding with us make all good fruit possible. Jesus as the vine is the conduit between God and humankind.

Jesus tells us that we can ask God for anything in the name of Jesus, and God will give it to us. How do we explain unanswered prayer? I believe that God does answer prayer, in God’s own time and manner. God is not Santa Claus; God provides us with what we need, but not always what we want. I confess that I sometime get a case of the “I wants” and soon understand that this is a symptom of the world talking, not the believer. When asking for something in Jesus’ name, be thoughtful, mindful, and grateful in the process. Abide in Jesus and allow him to abide in you. Think of the things of heaven.

Martha E. Griffis, Central Moravian Church
Bethlehem, Pennsylvania