Jesus Is the True Vine
1Jesus said to his disciples:
I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2He cuts away every branch of mine that doesn't produce fruit. But he trims clean every branch that does produce fruit, so that it will produce even more fruit. 3You are already clean because of what I have said to you.
4Stay joined to me, and I will stay joined to you. Just as a branch cannot produce fruit unless it stays joined to the vine, you cannot produce fruit unless you stay joined to me. 5I am the vine, and you are the branches. If you stay joined to me, and I stay joined to you, then you will produce lots of fruit. But you cannot do anything without me. 6If you don't stay joined to me, you will be thrown away. You will be like dry branches that are gathered up and burned in a fire.
7Stay joined to me and let my teachings become part of you. Then you can pray for whatever you want, and your prayer will be answered. 8When you become fruitful disciples of mine, my Father will be honored.
The sugarbush beckoned every February in Quebec where I lived. About forty people dropped everything to tap 1,300 trees and hang sap buckets on the spiles. The clear, sweet water filled the sap buckets, drip by drip.
All day, we lugged pails of sap from the trees to the gathering tank behind the tractor. When the tank was full, the sap was delivered to the sugar shack to boil down over a wood stove. The result – delicious maple syrup.
But sometimes we couldn’t keep up with nature and the sap overflowed onto the ground. Sometimes it rained and contaminated the sap. Sometimes bad weather or broken equipment stopped us, so the sap stood too long in the pails and spoiled. Then, all 1,300 pails would be spilled onto the ground, wasted. Sap does not keep. It must be used within a day.
Imagine that the maple tree is God, flowing with sweet living water – the Tree of Life. The spile – the tap – is Jesus driven deep in the tree. You are the empty vessel, the pail hanging on the spile, catching every drop of living water trickling from the tree, from God. Through Jesus, each day you are filled and nourished with living water. You have so much and don’t want to hoard it or let it sour, so you share. The sharing changes this sweet living water into rich, sweet syrup, and all around you relish its flavour.
When you are not joined to Jesus and the Tree of Life, you become parched, shrivelled, and empty. Perhaps liquid from another source fills your vessel, but it is contaminated – it looks good but cannot sustain you. It might even kill you.
The point is, if you want to live, hang your life on Jesus. Stay joined to him. He is the way to God.
Jesus says, “If you don’t stay joined to me, you will be thrown away.”
Thank you Jesus, for the promise of life when I am attached to you. Help me to stick close to you, to hang on you. Help me to share with others the sweet living water that you give me. Amen.