John 15:1-2

At the beginning of the month, the people at Do Not Depart started a project to learn John 15. Last week I learnt a few lines from the letter of James. Saying I enjoyed it feels a bit limp. I find it ridiculously exciting — having the word inside me.

On twitter I found some posts from @LadyPuppetess showing how she does bible study:

I’d love to do all that. It’s not going to happen though as this is all secret. So this blog will have to do. I’ll write up each verse or pair of verses as I learn them. I’d like to catch up with the Do Not Depart project (oh, here’s their page on John 15:1-2)

1. I am the true vine, and my father is the vinekeeper

I am the true vine

I know Jesus is speaking here, and talking about himself, but having learnt it, and having it inside me, speaking those words silently myself, I am using “I” as I, speaking as myself. Myself as Jesus.

That feels strong and uplifting, enobling. And God is my father too.

When I sin, I don’t just push myself down. I pull Jesus down with me. I pull everyone down. I reduce everybody. Sin is a kind of crime against humanity. (although I think of sin as a kind of error or weakness or disease; conscious turning against God is different and I call that evil).

“I am the true vine”

I use that to remind me now, when sin tugs at me. It reminds me who I really am. I kind of take a step up and freshen myself.

2. Every branch of mine that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.

Every branch of mine that does not bear fruit he takes away

When I was first learning this I often had “any” as the quantifier here. The meaning is kind of the same, but “every” is more definite. An almost automatic process. This is how I think of God a lot of the time: a grim, merciless force. Jesus redeems God as well as people.

Being taken away like rubbish. That’s the end of the story. There’s nothing of interest to these fruitless branches.

every branch that does bear fruit he prunes

Being pruned doesn’t sound very pleasant either! The pruning cuts are the “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune”. So far this chapter is very much how I imagine God.

… that it may bear more fruit.

Bearing fruit is what we are here to do. Children obviously. Progress, ideas, literature. Or just enjoying life, being human.

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  1. I always learn something new from reading your thoughts. I’m already discovering there’s more to John 15 than I have previously thought, and more questions than I’d previously asked. Glad you’re sharing what you’re learning and what you see others doing. I like the visuals of verse mapping.


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