In receiving Holy Communion, we connect with Christ Jesus through His Body and Blood. Another way of understanding this connection we make to Jesus is actually being part of His Body and Blood. A way we describe this is by understanding we are in the vineyard with Jesus. The gospel of John enlightens us with the description by Jesus.
In reading from John 15:1-16 we hear: “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.”
The new life in Christ Jesus is God’s wonderful gift to us. When we accept this gift we are grafted as a branch onto Jesus the vine. These words of Jesus to the disciples are also for us. There are different ways to explain how we should be connected to the Lord, and this metaphor of the vine and branches helps us better understand our relationship with God through Jesus.
As we are able to bear fruit as branches connected to Jesus the vine, God the vine grower prunes us so that we can bear more fruit. Branches that bear no fruit only take from the others and must be removed.
Many people struggle with the idea of ever becoming a branch. Once we become branches our responsibilities become great. The idea of being grafted onto Jesus cannot be taken lightly and is not a part-time thing. God wants us to bear fruit for Him and He will prune us to keep us healthy.
So we choose whether or not to become a branch on the vine that is Jesus. There are many blessings for us in doing this, but can we be worthy branches? We are not comfortable in making this kind of commitment.
Being attached to the vine seems limiting to us as compared to our freedom in the natural world. But when we are finished what do we have in the natural world? There are no gifts in the natural world to compare with God’s love for us and his promise of eternal life through Christ Jesus.
God, the vine-grower, prunes away our unproductive parts so that the other parts can bear more fruit. It comes down to one thing. Are we willing to be grafted onto the vine that is Christ Jesus from whom we receive our nourishment?
When we commit to this connection we become one with Christ who is one with God. By being constantly in His word and keeping it, we are healthy branches that bear much fruit for the Lord.
Robert Halsey Pine was born at Newark, Ohio in 1943. He is a graduate of Northeastern University and completed the program of Theological Education by Extention: Education for Ministry, School of Theology, the University of the South.