Saturday, September 26, 2020

The Vine and the Gardener...

Hi friends,

In John 15, in the middle of Jesus' farewell discourse at his last meal with his disciples before his death, he describes his relationship with his Heavenly Father and with his disciples using several images. One of them is that of a vine and branches. This extended metaphor shows how we are a part of Christ and how we draw our source of life from him. When Jesus says 'I am the true vine' he is claiming to fulfil what Israel was meant to have been. Israel is referred to as a vine in the Old Testament, but it failed in its purpose as it grew wild and sick, and was eventually destroyed by other nations. Jesus reframes this image around himself (as with so many other images he uses as he teaches).

If Jesus is the true vine and we are the branches bearing leaves and fruit, then the Father is the gardener. As the gardener, he cuts away branches that don't bear fruit, and prunes those that do so that they will produce even more. This is both an encouraging and sobering truth. Our Heavenly Father will remove branches of his true vine that show they are no longer drawing life from the vine - they have become unfruitful and therefore unnecessary. When Jesus spoke these words they could have applied to those Pharisees and Sadducees who refused to acknowledge Jesus as the Messiah, the source of life, and therefore were not bearing fruit. Today, this could apply to those who claim to be part of the vine but who are not bearing fruit because their connection to the source has dried up. It is the Father's right to tend and care for the vine, and he does so with infinite wisdom. He doesn't just lop off branches carelessly - he knows which branches need careful tending and which ones just need to go.

What I find interesting is that along with cutting off branches that don't bear fruit, the Father prunes the ones that do - which means cutting bits from them. So either way, cutting is involved! Sometimes God cuts things from our lives or ministries which feel painful, and we feel empty or bare as a result. But in these seasons we need to know that God the Father does this for the good of the vine. We are still connected, so we are still drawing life from Jesus, and the cutting away he does in our lives will actually lead to more fruit in the future. So if you feel the painful snip of God's pruning in your life, be encouraged.... there is greater fruit coming. 

On this page in my Illustrating Bible, I painted a background with acrylic paints, then stamped the leaves from Give Thanks over the top with Stazon brown ink, colouring with coloured pencils (if you are colouring over darker backgrounds, you can add a layer of white pencil first, then add colour over the top). The verse was stamped with a combination of I Am, School Days Alpha, Rebecca Script Alpha and Mini Grunge Type Alpha. I added a couple of butterfly stickers and some washi tape down the side to finish. Here are the sets I used:

Let's be encouraged as we see our Heavenly Father at work as the gardener and choose to keep drawing our life from the vine, Jesus Christ.

Be blessed...

x Amy x

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