Saturday, August 13, 2016

Discipleship Made Easy!!

Readings for the Day
Jeremiah 13-15, John 15

Verses for the Day
9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends."

Thoughts for the Day
In chapter 15, Jesus uses the metaphor of a Vine and its branches to describe the relationship between he and his disciples. In the Old Testament, Yahweh is seen as the Vine of Israel. Israel would be fruitful, only if they obeyed God"s commands. Jesus uses this metaphor to describe himself. He says, "I am the Vine, and you are the branches." As he has done all throughout the book of John, this is another statement of His divinity.

Importantly Jesus promises that if they remain in Him, He would remain in them and they would bear much fruit. But in a sobering comment he says in 15:5, "Apart from me you can do nothing." This is one of the most quoted verses in the Lutheran confessions. It is humbling, but in another way freeing. It frees us from relying on our performance, or personality to produce fruit. We simply need to remain in Him. Then, the apostle gives them another promise. If they bear fruit, God will prune them, so they can bear even more fruit.

Then Jesus adds, "You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might bear fruit that will last." One might ask, "How do I remain in Him, so I can bear so much fruit?" Jesus supplies us with the answer,"If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, and bear much fruit." So what is his command? He sums it up quite nicely, "Love each other as I loved you!" We tend to make following Jesus complicated. Jesus cuts through all confusion and says his command is to love others as he has loved them. He loved them unconditionally and showed it by laying down his life for them and for us.

Jesus gives us a simple and workable model for discipleship, for following Him. Remain in his unconditional love, and then share that love with others. So if you want to follow Jesus in a deeper way, love those who He puts in your life with the same love he has lavished on you.

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