Friday, June 17, 2022

Love or Leave

 Last week during our local prayer and bible study we were discussing John 15, in particular one word that appears 10 times in the first 11 verses.  In this context, Yeshua says to His disciples: "I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser” (John 15:1).  He then goes on to warn them that a branch that does not bear fruit will be pruned or cut off completely.  But what is peculiar to the analogy of this particular branch -  klay’may” in Greek -  is that it refers to a broken-off branch (G2806). True to the botanical analogy, Yeshua continues by stating a botanical fact, and that is that in and of itself a branch cannot bear fruit. In other words, it must draw its nourishment from the vine.  The fruit that Yeshua is referring to here is obviously the spiritual produce mentioned in Galatians 5:22-23 (love, joy, peace, etc.).  The reason that He uses the grapevine analogy is that grafting was (and still is) a common practice in vineyards, as there are many positive benefits to doing so. 

However, Yeshua is referring back to the condition of YHVH’s vineyard in Jeremiah chapter 2, when He says to all Israel: "Yet I planted you a choice vine, a completely faithful seed. How then have you turned yourself before Me into the degenerate shoots of a foreign vine?" (Jeremiah 2:21).  "For My people have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters to hew for themselves cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water" (Jeremiah 2:13). “Quite right, they were broken off for their unbelief, but you stand by your faith" (Romans 11:20). Even though Paul uses here the olive tree as his example, the same principle applies to the vine as well, as Yeshua is also the Netzer of the olive tree that both Judah and Ephraim have to be grafted back into.  They were both cut off because of their unbelief which is disobedience, forsaking the very waters of life that fed them. The spiritual sap that they/we were receiving from the degenerate vine, from our forefathers, was contaminated by Sin and as a result, we produced no fruit at all, or at 'best' poisonous fruit.  The Vinedresser and Creator laid the ax/cross to this root and killed that which was feeding our branch.  However, in His great mercies and faithfulness, He is grafting the branches back -  into the True Vine, or put differently into the New Shoot which sprung up from the only root He preserved, the root mentioned in Isaiah:  "There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots… "And in that day there shall be a shoot of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Nations seek: and his rest shall be glorious” (Isaiah 11:1, 10).

What does Yeshua mean when in the midst of the discourse and exhortation regarding the vine, He suddenly says to His disciples the following: "You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you" (John 15:3)? Having been washed by the water of His word (ref. Eph. 5:26) they (the disciples) were made ready for the implant.

The word that I referred to above, as appearing 10 times in John 15 is "abide.  In Greek it is “men’o, which means to sojourn, remain, not to depart, or to stay temporarily in a place.  One would think that "connected" or "linked" in a permanent way would have been more appropriate terms. But in warning these particular 'grafted in branches', Yeshua emphasizes that they have a choice, to stay connected and draw life from the vine or not. "I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me, and I in him, he bears much fruit; for apart from Me you can do nothing.  If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch, and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned” (John 15:5-6). Daily our circumstances and the power of sin challenge us – will we remain in union/graft in the Messiah or not?  Clinging to Him and drawing our life from Him results in “the fullness of joy” (verse 11), and in “rest” (Isaiah 11:10). 

As "branches" Yeshua places a condition before us: "If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father's commandments, and abide in His love” (John 15:11).  "This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you” (John 15:12).  Thus, if the above 'equation' is reduced to its conclusion – what we are asked to do is to abide in His love, drawing life from the Source - the Father through Yeshua. Furthermore, in John 15:5 He tells us categorically: "without Me you can do nothing”. In other words, it is impossible for us to keep His commandments if we are not abiding in Him and He in us. Staying in this abiding place, being engaged in this intimate relationship with Him is described thus: “and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory” (1 Peter 1:8).  Living this way, we will bear or produce the fruit of the Spirit, which in and of themselves fulfill all the commandments of Yeshua, thus enabling us to enjoy the foretaste of eternity:  "As for you, let that abide in you which you heard from the beginning. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, you also will abide in the Son and in the Father.  And this is the promise which He Himself made to us: eternal life” (1 John 2:24-25). 

"Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love” (John 15:9).

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