I Am The True Vine

I Am The True Vine

In this last of the “I am” sayings series of headers, Jesus, in John 15:1, employing agrarian ancient Eastern imagery describes himself by saying: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinegrower.” Then, in verse 5, he goes on to reiterate: “I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing.” Once again, Jesus emphasises that it’s all about relationship and remaining connected with him. The vine, and branches by nature, grow and bear fruit. So it is in life. Life is a journey of growth, of producing and bearing fruit. Abiding in Jesus the true vine means participation in the Word and Sacraments-worship; the community/communion/koinonia of sinner-saints; and acts of loving kindness. Shorter, pruned branches remain closer to the vine—hence; they are the most healthy and fruitful. So in our lives, pruning vis-à-vis repentance and sufferings keep us closer and more connected with Christ the true vine for the purpose of growth and bearing fruit. Vines, of course, produce grapes, which are one of the symbols for Israel. Grapes, in turn, become wine—the drink of life for Jews in the Passover and for Christians in Holy Communion.

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I am the Resurrection and the Life

I am the Resurrection and the Life

In this fifth “I am” saying of Jesus in John 11:25, our Lord described himself with a view to the future. He speaks these words of comfort and hope to Martha who is grieving over the death of her brother, Lazarus. As the story unfolds, Jesus authenticates his claim as the resurrection and the life by revealing his power over death and raising the dead Lazarus. This sign was a foretaste of the future, when Jesus himself would be raised from the dead and promise all would-be followers that, one day; they too would be raised from the dead and be given the gift of eternal life. Each Sunday is a celebration and reminder of Christ the resurrection and the life, present and active among us. Life is graced with many small resurrections whenever the risen Lord gives hope to the hopeless; faith to the doubting; love to the loveless; new life to the dying.

I am the Good Shepherd

I am the Good Shepherd

The picture of Jesus as the good shepherd who lays his life down for the sheep in John 10:11, 14 has provided countless people of faith much comfort and confidence down through the ages. Most likely biblically literate Jews and Christians automatically think of Psalm 23 whenever they hear the language of shepherd and sheep. Jesus too certainly knew the other shepherd-sheep passages from the Hebrew Bible, where shepherds represented the political and spiritual leaders of Israel and the sheep all Israelites. As our Good Shepherd, Jesus provides for our physical and spiritual needs; protects us from danger and harm; and preserves life through the forgiveness of sin made effective through the laying down of his life—his atoning work on the cross. One of, if not “the” most moving, tender passages of the New Testament is Luke 15. Here Jesus our Good Shepherd is prepared to seek out and save a single lost sheep and leave his whole flock behind. Each sheep/person is extremely valued by Jesus—hence the feasting when the lost are found.

 

I am the Light of the world

I am the Light of the world

The second “I am” saying of Jesus is: “I am the light of the world,” John 8:12; 9:5. In the larger context of both these passages, Jesus reveals himself as the light of the world. First, he prevents a woman “caught in adultery” (no mention of the man) from being stoned to death by challenging the would be stone-casters to look at themselves and see if they are sinless before they begin stoning the woman. Jesus may have written each of their sins on the ground for them to see. No one was without sin, so they dropped their stones and left. Jesus saved the woman’s life. In the second passage, Jesus is the light of the world by healing the man born blind. His blindness kept him in darkness, now he could see the light—both natural and spiritual. In John’s Gospel, Jesus the light of the world shines in the darkness—the powers of evil—to reveal the truth about God, himself, humankind, the world, and God’s eternal realm. Christ the light shines in the darkness and the darkness shall never overcome the True Light. One day all darkness shall banish as we see Christ the light face to face.

The 7 “I am” sayings of Jesus

The 7 “I am” sayings of Jesus in the Fourth Gospel

Right from the beginning, any reader of the Gospel of John will notice that it is different than the three Synoptic Gospels. Many of Jesus’ discourses in John are rich with mystery and riddles that hook readers to think more deeply about the primary Christological question: Who is Jesus Christ? Jesus answers that question and much more in a variety of ways, including the seven “I am” sayings.

 

In the next while, I plan on posting my humble attempts at exploring Jesus’ “I am” sayings in my sketch pad, using oil pastels. They shall also appear here as blog headers. The first in this series is: “I am the bread of life.” (John 6:35, 41, 48-51)

35, 41, 48-51