Israel in Jesus’ time was an agrarian society. It depended on agriculture economically. It’s no surprise then that the Christian Testament is resplendent with examples of agricultural events/examples to illustrate the relationship between Jesus, His Father, and us His followers. Jesus talks about seeds needing to die in order to bring forth new growth (Matt 13:3-9); harvesting the fields and separating the wheat from the chaff (Matt 3:12); the Kingdom of Heaven being like a mustard seed (Luke 13:18-19); producing wine (Matt 21:33-41) and so on. These are similes used by Jesus to illustrate a teaching or emphasise a theological concept.
Today in John’s Gospel reading, Jesus takes the agrarian analogy to a new level. He uses a metaphor, not just a simile, to emphasise His relationship with His Father and us, His disciples. It is a significant shift! “I am the Vine, and My Father is the Vine grower”. Not “I’m like a vine, etc”. He describes the intimate relationship between Him as the Vine and us as “the branches”, another metaphor – we are His “Branches” to do His work on earth today, like the works of St Vincent de Paul and other charitable ministries.
If we remember that this is Our Saviour who is talking, and that it’s not just some “also-ran” in history sounding off, we should be mightily encouraged and excited by what He is saying. Our Saviour is outlining His love and concern for us in the most intimate and gentle way and expressing His desire for us, not only to be safe and saved, but also through Him to bear much fruit (love) in our salvation story and of those around us. But He respects our free will to choose not to be His branches. The outcome of so choosing is truly frightening!
Jesus’ focus is always on His Father’s will and His obedience to it – irrespective of the personal cost to Him. Jesus invites us to likewise be focussed on doing the Father’s will. To be clear on what our mission is – to love our families, friends, and others to glorify Our Father here and now.
That’s the spirit of resurrection. That’s the Easter spirit.