GSFA Devotional: Bread for Our Journey
Lenten Devotion (4)
15 March 2023
Reading: John 15:5
I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. John 15: 5
Jesus declares that He is the true vine. Where and when? On the night before the crucifixion. They celebrated the Passover and Jesus taught them many things and at the end of John 14 Jesus commands the disciples: Rise, let us go from here. Matthew tells us “And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.” Matthew 26: 30
Jesus teaches his disciples as they walk from the upper room to the mount of Olives to reach Gethsemane. The time is drawing close to the end, and He has many things to tell his disciples.
Jesus taught what people understand, he used illustrations close to people in their daily lives. As they were walking next to the vineyards in Jerusalem, Jesus points to the vine and says “I am the true vine, you are the branches.”
Jesus explained very difficult things in the upper room and now he explains to them by using a simple metaphor. First, Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14: 6
Second, “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, … You know him, for he dwells with you and will be[b] in you.” John 14: 16-18.
When Jesus says “I am the true vine”, he explains very vividly what he meant by saying “I am the way, the truth and the life”. He is the source of life. When Jesus says “I will give you another helper”, he explains that life is given to us by the Holy Spirit who dwells in us.
Jesus adds “for apart from me you can do nothing”.Like the branches, if we are separated from Christ, we cannot bear fruit. Here Jesus is not telling us of miraculous actions but is explaining that natural activities in the ministry which we can do very efficiently are nothing, and we cannot bear fruit if we are not abiding in Jesus.
We have Hope:
Faith leads us to action, as branches of the vine. We have hope of great and wonderful things in our lives and our ministry to happen. As branches abiding in the vine, we bear much fruit. The statement is passive - “apart from me you can do nothing”. It is possible to read it positively as “with me you can do all things”.
To bear fruit in the life of holiness. We cannot live this life apart from Jesus. How can I overcome the temptation of the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life? To bear fruit in the life of faith in bearing the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.
To bear fruit in the lives of others in bringing many people to know Christ the Saviour. We have no power in ourselves, but we abide in Jesus, we bear much fruit. Millions of branches are not abiding in the vine. If all these branches are abiding to bear fruit, how many will come to the knowledge of our Lord!
Life will flow in the many lives connected and abiding in the vine by the Holy Spirit. To be part of a vision to change the world. Not a single branch is outside the vine and not connected, but all branches bear much fruit. “For the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.” Isaiah 11: 9
A call for Prayer:
I need here to stop and pray: Apart from you Lord I can do nothing. Your words are the truth. All power comes from you. I do not want to do anything apart from you. You are my all in all. Help me to abide in you to bear fruit to give all glory to you my Lord and my God.
The Most Revd Samy Shehata
Bishop of Egypt and Primate of Alexandria