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Holy Thursday: Holy Week Devotions

You are invited to use these devotions as you take time during Holy Week to ponder the events of each day as we move toward Easter Sunday. Photo by Kathleen Barry, United Methodist Communications.
You are invited to use these devotions as you take time during Holy Week to ponder the events of each day as we move toward Easter Sunday. Photo by Kathleen Barry, United Methodist Communications.

Thursday, April 14, 2022

Trimmed or chopped

Scripture: John 15:1-11, CEB

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vineyard keeper. 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. You are already trimmed because of the word I have spoken to you. 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.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. If you don’t remain in me, you will be like a branch that is thrown out and dries up. Those branches are gathered up, thrown into a fire, and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified when you produce much fruit and in this way prove that you are my disciples.

“As the Father loved me, I too have loved you. Remain in my love.  If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. I have said these things to you so that my joy will be in you and your joy will be complete.

Meditation

In the Bible we find the use of similes (indirect comparison) and metaphors (direct comparison). God uses them to bring to His people the teachings of what the kingdom of God is like and what He is like. He uses well-known examples to teach the people in these comparisons. The potter, the carpenter, in this case he uses agriculture-the growing of grapes.  Whenever a seed is sown it is done in the hope that it will grow and produce its fruit. But there is a care to be taken so that the harvest is properly reaped.

Jesus teaches us what He and the kingdom of God are like by pronouncing the seven "I am's."

In John 10:11-14 I am the good shepherd; John 11:25 I am the resurrection and the life; John 6:35-48 I am the bread of life; John 8:12; 9:5 I am the light of the world; John 10:7 I am the door; John 14:25 I am the way, the truth, and the life. And in the reading, we have chosen for today's meditation: John 15:1-5 I am the true vine. The vine is a grape plant, it is a vine. It has a root, a trunk, branches, shoots, leaves and fruit. Jesus compares himself to that plant "He is" and my father is the vineyard keeper, He is the owner and caretaker. He is the one who takes care, who cleans, who prunes. The use of agriculture to explain the kingdom of God, and its care. 

He talks about trimming: What is it and why is it necessary? It is to clean, to cut, to pull up, to remove dry leaves, dry branches. Pruning is a sign of love, God is concerned about us. He takes care of us, He removes what is not necessary, He removes what is not productive, what is not useful to us. When God is closest to us, it is when He is trimming us. When a vinedresser goes to prune, He always has the branch in his hand. God has not let you go, you have always been in the hollow of God's hand. Pruning is not the absence of God, on the contrary, it is when He is closer than ever. John 15:2 he trims any branch that produces fruit so that it will produce even more fruit.

To be cut off: John 15:2 He removes any of my branches that don’t produce fruit; the branch is a new shoot. The danger of not being attached to Christ is that this new shoot will dry up. In other words, the danger of not congregating, of not being in a church, can dry us up, it does not allow us to grow, mature and bear the fruit that is expected of us. The Lord gives us a piece of advice, a commandment or recommendation in John 15:4 "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. He is speaking of a relationship, a friendship and fellowship. John 15:5 "I am the vine, you are the branches" is giving us identity. He is also giving us a promise John 15: 5b "he who abides in me, and I in him, he bears much fruit". He is telling us that we need him in order to go forward, John 15:5c "for apart from me you can do nothing". 

For reflection

Trimming is the evidence of something new in our lives. Usually when something goes wrong or we are in a time of trial we get desperate. We tend to worry too much and try to solve. The pruning in your life has as a goal that you bear fruit as it says: Galatians 5:22 "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control."; 2 Timothy 1:7 "For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and love and self-control". So do not stray from the vine and allow whatever the vineyard keeper desires to do in your life to be done, for the result will be a blessing.

Prayer

Blessed God, thank You for revealing Yourself to our lives with examples from our daily lives and with them help us to understand Your plans and purposes in our lives. Help us to stay attached to You and continue to work in our lives, take away what You need to take away, add what You need to add so that we may remain united to You and bear much fruit. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.

 

For more Holy Week devotions, click here.