Daily Lent Devotional #10 (March 18, 2011)

A great book resource to explore today’s passage is “Secrets of the Vine” by Bruce Wilkinson.  Like his more famous book “The Prayer of Jabez,” it is an easy read and has many interesting perspectives to consider.  Today’s passage takes place after The Last Supper, where Jesus has predicted his betrayal by one of his 12 Apostles, that Peter will deny him, and that all of his followers will abandon him.  Then, he will be executed.  It is in the aftermath of these horrible and depressing revelations that Wilkinson sets the stage for the last lesson from Jesus prior to his crucifixion:

Eleven dejected men follow Jesus down the stairs and out into the cool night air. Some of the disciples carry lamps or burning torches to light the way. Perhaps Jesus tells them where He is heading—to a garden on the Mount of Olives where they often spent time. Perhaps they already know. But I believe that as their footsteps echo through the narrow streets, not a word is spoken.

The disciples follow Jesus down the hill, through the winding streets of Jerusalem. Avoiding the temple mount and its noisy, celebrating crowds, Jesus turns right and leads them out of the city. Then they turn sharply left to follow the Kidron Valley up toward their destination.

Along the terraces that follow the curve of the valley, they pass through ancient vineyards. They walk in single file between rows of neatly tended grapes, plants that have been bearing fruit for generations. To the left above them tower the city walls and the ramparts of the temple. Ahead and to the right rises the Mount of Olives, where Gethsemane and betrayal await.

Here Jesus stops. Hemmed in by rows of vines, the disciples gather around. Lamps and torches sputter in the night air and flicker in their eyes. Jesus reaches for a grape branch. Showing signs of new spring growth, its woody stem lies across His hand in the golden light.

Now He begins…

John 15: 1-5   (New Living Translation)

“I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. 3 You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. 4 Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me. 5 “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.”

The book goes into greater detail into discussing how Christians can and should “produce fruit” in their faith, but I want to focus on two key truths to remember:

1.)  Christians must stay in constant contact with Jesus in order to grow and produce fruit.

This seems so obvious, but Jesus stresses it for a reason.  Either due to success in life and ministry (which can lead to self-focused pride) or due to hardships (which can distract and dishearten us), Christians try to live their Christian life without Christ.  We can become so focused on working for Jesus in ministry that we stop walking with Jesus in relationship.  We try and fail to carry on in our own strength and energy, yielding only a fraction of the fruit that we are meant to bear.  Personal relationship with Jesus must come first, then the fruit can follow in an authentic manner.

2.)  Christians must cooperate with God’s pruning in order to produce abundant fruit.

As we grow in our walk with Christ; God will ask us to let go of certain attitudes, behaviors, and activities so that we may be even more fruitful for Him.  These are all things that drain us of energy, time, and resources.  They may or may not be sinful in nature, but they are preventing us from experiencing true growth.  Like grapevines that spend more time producing leaves instead of grapes, we need re-oriented to our true purpose:  to produce fruit for God’s glory.  God always tries to go about this process delicately at first, hoping that we will cooperate.  If we resist, He will continue to insist and hope that eventually (when we are tired of fighting His Plan) we will get on board with Him.  He loves us too much to leave us as we are.  His dreams for us are bigger and better, we just need to trust Him.

May you remain in Jesus and obey Him who loves you more than you could every know.

Blessings,

Pastor Josh

Published in: on March 18, 2011 at 6:00 AM  Leave a Comment  
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