Episcopal Church in Minnesota

Environmental Stewardship Commission
Lectionary Reflection
Year A, Easter 6, Gospel Lesson

John 15: 1-8

Jesus said, "I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinegrower. He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit. You have already been cleansed by the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. 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. Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples."

Reflection on John 15: 1-8
by John Gibbs, Ph D

“Becoming People Who Are Safe for the World” (“God’s Offspring”)

Jesus’ “farewell discourse” with the eleven faithful disciples moves from the promise of the Holy Spirit (John 14:16-27) to the image of branches “abiding” in the vine of which they are parts. Accordingly, “joy” in life (v. 11) depends on the act of “abiding” going both ways: the Advocate, the Spirit of truth, “abides” in God’s People (vv. 16-17); and the People of God “abide” in Jesus.

The author of this gospel perceives that Jesus is the “true Israel,” in effect, and that there is continuity between Israel, Jesus, and Church. God’s purpose persists through these three entities. The commandments about how to live within God’s creation remain valid throughout. Humanity as God created it was, and is expected to remain, safe for all the world.

[Note: “the world” in John 14:17 is clearly not the good Creation, but the whole world of “this age” that has been shattered by “the Fall.” See for instance Kittel (ed.), Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, III, 885, 892-94.]

To Reflections on other Readings for this Sunday:
Old Testament
Isaiah 41:17-20
Psalm 148
New Testament
1 Peter 3:8-18 or 
Acts 17:22-31
John 15:1-8
this page

John Gibbs, PhD, a retired theologian, attends Trinity Episcopal Church, Park Rapids, MN.   He originally wrote this reflection in 2002.  He and we welcome your comments. Please address your comments or additional reflections to John Gibbs or any MEESC member, or mail them to:
c/o C. Morello
4451 Lakeside Drive
Eveleth, MN 55743-4400 USA

The MEESC assumes that all correspondence received is for publication on this web site. If your comments are not for publication, please so note on your correspondence. The MEESC reserves the right to decide which items are included on the web site.

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