I’ve been encouraged during this season of waiting by a short Advent devotional called Unwrapping the Names of Jesus, by Asheritah Ciuciu. (It’s available on Amazon.) One name that has been meaningful to me is “The Vine.” In John 15, Jesus likens Himself to a vine and His followers to branches. Without Him, we can do nothing, but if we remain in Him, we will bear fruit. In the Old Testament, both Psalm 80 and Isaiah 5 use vineyard imagery to describe God’s relationship to Israel. God planted, cared for and did everything He could for His vineyard, Israel, but it bore only bad fruit (Isaiah 5:1-7).
I love Jesus’ use of this metaphor. It’s as if He’s saying, “The old way of tending the vineyard didn’t work (the law). I have become the vine and will nourish and sustain the branches so that they will bear fruit.” In this passage, Jesus calls us His friends, as He has laid down His life for us and has made the Father known to us (John 15:13-15). He tells us to remain in His love as a branch remains in the vine and to bear the fruit of loving others as He has loved us.
As this Advent heads to its culmination on Christmas Day, my prayer is that we will remember that Jesus came to earth to give His life for us, that we might bear fruit. That we will draw our resources from the Vine and not attempt to live separately from our source of life. Without Him, we can do nothing. With Him, we can do what He calls us to—love each other (v.12,17).