Tag Archives: I am the True Vine

The Vineyard

Isaiah 5:1-7
Psalm 80:7-14
Philippians 3:4b-14
Matthew 21:33-46


As today’s readings exhibit, grape vines and grape vineyards are common images in the Bible representing the descendants of Abraham, the House of Israel. The Temple in Jesus’ day included a vine made of gold that grew around the entrance to the Holy Place. It was so large that each grape on the vine was the size of a bowling ball, and weighed much more because they were solid gold.

Grapes represent life, as well as Israel. That is one reason Jesus used wine in his remembrance celebration. When we say the blood of Jesus saves us, we leave out important points. We must include the body of Jesus; his life, his presence on earth, those years he spent living the human life.

We also leave out the connection of Jesus to Israel. Jesus is Israel. The Bible makes it clear that Jesus is the true representation of Israel on earth. In his living, he did not change Israel, he only reminded Israel of what God expects of Israel.

Those of we Gentiles who have decided to walk in the way of Jesus have been grafted into the vine of Israel. Christians are not separate from Israel, we are a part of Israel.

When God says, So why, when I expected good grapes, did it produce sour, wild grapes? CJB God is talking to American Christians in our time. We cannot say, God was angry with the Hebrews; I’m glad I’m a modern Christian. No.

We must ask ourselves: when did I last feed the hungry, visit the sick, help the poor, build a house, prevent war, bring comfort?


Read my earlier comments on these NT readings here.


Be righteous and do good.

Mike Lawrence

John 11-15

John11v01to45_2008 John11v01to45_2014 John11v32to42_2012

“Agnus Day appears with the permission of www.agnusday.org”

Monday, July 14, Chapter 11

This chapter opens with a prequel to the crucifixion when Lazarus becomes sick and dies.  Jesus was on the east side of the Jordan River near Jericho when he received word of the illness.  Jesus said that Lazarus would not die and spent the next two days teaching.

His disciples were upset when he did announce their return to Judea.  Are there not twelve hours of daylight?  Jesus may simply mean that we have to live all those hours regardless, we should be doing God’s work in them.  Lazarus is dead and I am to bring him back so you can see and understand.

When Martha met Jesus on the road, she expressed great confidence in life after death and in her brother’s joining God in heaven.

Jesus had other plans and said, I am the resurrection and the life.  Notice that he links resurrection with life.  An existence after death awaits us all.  Life awaits only those who are reborn in Jesus; only those whom Jesus raises from the dead.

Jesus knows he will be executed and that he will be raised by God from death and given the seat belonging to the Prince of Heaven.  But he also knows he will be able to bring his friends with him.  Those who do his Word will join Jesus in the presence of God.

Notice the reactions of the two sisters, Martha believing at once and Mary holding back.

A Greek word in verse 33 presents a problem of translation.  Embrimasthai is found only four times in the New Testament.  In the other three it is taken to mean anger.  How does anger fit Jesus here?  John uses the word Jews that he has already established refers to those Jews who do not believe Jesus.  For Jesus to see them crying at the death of Lazarus seems to him to be hypocritical and it upsets him: Jesus wept.

Instead of attacking them, Jesus raised Lazarus.  His answer to non-belief was to do that which only God can do.  Understand that Jesus did not resurrect Lazarus.  Jesus spoke the Word of God and God raised the dead.  Humans cannot do what we call miracles, only God can do them.  Jesus did not multiply 5 loaves into 5,000, God did.  Jesus did not ask, he believed.  In reality, Jesus did not have to ask God because God told Jesus what to do.  The human Jesus did what God told him to do, just as you and I are expected to do what God tells us to do.  God does not call on us to raise the dead, rather He calls us to care for the living.

In verse 51, we have a strange image of Caiaphas as a prophet of God.  For the High Priest, his statement simply meant that they had to kill Jesus to avoid the blood-bath the Romans would inflict on them otherwise.  For God, Caiaphas’ statement was filled with promise.  Only by the death of Jesus could the nation, indeed, all nations be saved.


“Agnus Day appears with the permission of www.agnusday.org”

Tuesday, July 15, Chapter 12

With chapter 12 we move into the Passion.  Notice that in John 11 chapters lead up to the Passion and 10 are used to describe it.  The first chapters described the Son of God, the remaining chapters will describe what the Son suffered to save the world.

Martha wanted to express her joy for bringing her brother back to her, so she washed the feet of Jesus in rich perfume.  The anointing of Jesus, as we call it now, is symbolic of his upcoming death because such perfumes were used in burial.  Jesus alone understood the significance at the time, but the disciples understood it later.

John places emphasis on the Old Testament quotations from Psalm 118:25 and Zechariah 9:9, two more predictions of the Messiah.

When some Greeks asked to see Jesus, Jesus immediately spoke of his sacrificial death.  We do not know if Jesus was speaking to the Greeks or the already large crowd around him.

When Jesus said, Father, glorify your name!, only the Apostles and a few close disciples understood the words from Heaven.  When Jesus spoke of going to Heaven the crowd asked about the Son of Man.  Jesus avoided the question, speaking instead about the light.  What he referred to was his earlier claim to be the Light of the world (8:12).

John includes quotations from Isaiah 53:1 and 6:10 to explain why some did not believe.  Jesus, in verse 46, speaks again of the Light.  Jesus is the Light of God, shinning for us to see the way.

In that message, we must note that Jesus declines any responsibility for what has happened and what will happen; it is all God.  As Paul Tillich put it:  And what He cries out is that believing in Him means not believing in Him….  “I have not spoken on my own authority,” He continues.  “If I did so, the un-believers would be right.”…As Jesus the man Jesus is neither an authority nor an object of faith….We cannot pray to anyone except to God.  If Jesus is someone besides God, we cannot and should not pray to Him.


“Agnus Day appears with the permission of www.agnusday.org”

Wednesday, July 16, Chapter 13

Now that Jesus has been prepared for burial while being glorified by Martha, he turns the tables and washes the feet of the Apostles.  This is both an act of love and an example of how we are to treat our fellow humans.  Jesus did not hesitate to wash the feet of Judas.

Jesus quotes Psalm 41:9 to indicate to the Apostles that he would be betrayed without telling them that he knew the name of his betrayer.  Judas probably did not consider his actions a betrayal.

Notice in verse 27 that Judas was still not beyond reach; then Satan took him.

Peter bravely claims that he will never deny being a disciple of Jesus, just as we do when it is easy to make the statement.  And like Peter, we fail to claim him when danger comes.


“Agnus Day appears with the permission of www.agnusday.org”

Thursday, July 17, Chapter 14

John 14:1-7 is a beautiful passage that people often memorize.  Let not your heart be troubled, in the King James.  I go to prepare a place for you.  Jesus is in Heaven getting our rooms ready for us to check in.  I am the way and the truth and the life.  Notice that Truth makes another appearance.  Truth exists only in God.  That which is not God is lie.

We live our lives in a world filled with lies.  It is easy to get pulled into them.  Fox and MSNBC have given up any pretense of honest news reporting, as have many other news outlets.  The internet is filled with lies and half-truths.  As Christians we cannot place our faith in them.  We cannot place our faith in our country.  God loves me as much as he loves my enemy.  If I love God, I must seek to love my enemy.

Verses 15-17 command us to that love.  Jesus has requested that the Holy Spirit, here called the Spirit of Truth, to come live with each of us.  Be open to that Spirit at all times.

Verse 27:  Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.


“Agnus Day appears with the permission of www.agnusday.org”

Friday, July 18, Chapter 15

I am the true vine, rounds out the seven I Ams.  They are, in order:

I am the Bread of Life

I am the Light of the world

I am the Gate

I am the Good Shepherd

I am the Resurrection and the Life

I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life

I am the True Vine.

The grape vine was one of the important symbols of Judah.  A vine of pure gold decorated the entrance to the Holy of Holies.  But Jesus is the True Vine.

The True Vine has branches that are the disciples of Jesus.  Only those branches, those disciples, that produce good fruit can expect to find rooms in Heaven

This is my command: Love each other.  Whatever job we do, whatever occupation we have, whatever life we live, we must do it in love.

Doing that will bring us into conflict with the world.  The world does not understand love.  Loving as Jesus loved will get us in trouble, one way or another.

Psalms 35:19 and 69:4:

Do not let those gloat over me
    who are my enemies without cause;
do not let those who hate me without reason
    maliciously wink the eye.

Those who hate me without reason
    outnumber the hairs of my head;
many are my enemies without cause,
    those who seek to destroy me.
I am forced to restore
    what I did not steal.


Be righteous and do good.

Mike Lawrence