The Vine

The Vine imagines James and John, the two fishermen brothers who had followed Jesus for nearly three years, grappling with the concept of the vine and the branches - and the whole significance of Jesus' call for them anyway.

Reading:John 15.1-10
James and John, the sons of Zebedee, had followed Jesus for nearly three years now. They had listened to his teaching and had watched him heal the sick. They had even seen the dead raised to life again.
JOHN:Hey, James! Remember that day when we were getting our nets ready by Lake Galilee?
JAMES:Which day do you mean, John? when Jesus came along and asked us to follow him?
JOHN:Yes, that's the day! I was just thinking about something Jesus said.
JAMES:Who can forget that! he told us, "Come with me and I will teach you to catch men"! There was no escaping that call, was there? We just left our nets and followed him!
JOHN:True, but I'm not sure I've really grasped this "catching men" bit yet. Jesus seems so intent on setting them free - healing people, forgiving people - that sort of thing!
JAMES:I know what you mean - like when we were coming to Jerusalem this time and those Samaritans wouldn't receive him. Jesus wasn't at all happy about our offer to call down fire from heaven on them, was he?
JOHN:And I'm puzzled about what He began talking about this morning. He said, "I am the real vine. My Father is the gardener and you are the branches." That's a bit hard for a fisherman to understand!
JAMES:Did you hear what Nathanael said about that?
JOHN:What would he know about it? He's never grown grapes, has he?
JAMES:It's not that. Nathanael knows his Bible better than most of us. He reckons a few of the prophets said something about Israel being the Lord's vine.
JOHN:That rings a bell. I've heard something like that at the synagogue services. It always seemed to end up the wrong way with the people doing the wrong thing!
JAMES:You've got it! It's how we live that counts! Jesus will show us the right things to do!
JOHN:Somehow there's a different slant to this one, James. Remember, he said, "Remain united to me and you will bear much fruit. You can do nothing without me."
JAMES:You mean ... You mean we're not sort of apprentices who can learn the trade and then go out on our own to practise it? Like going to one of the Rabbis so you can become a Rabbi yourself? or like going to a Rabbi so you can just go out and live the way he says?
JOHN:Yes, that's about it! We won't be setting up any sign that says, "James and John, Fishers of Men"! Mum couldn't even convince him to guarantee us the best places in his Kingdom!
JAMES:You know - he's an incredible person, John. There's something about him I don't quite grasp ... yet ... how can he give us all the strength and direction to change this world? But I am rather inclined to think we can't do it on our own! We can't do a fraction of what he can. But yet ... he's flesh-and-blood like us. How can we be "united to him"? I don't think I'll mind so much not being Number One. But my fisherman's mind can't really grasp this being-united-to-the-vine business!
JOHN:One thing, James, I'm glad I'm not the only one who can't figure it out! Maybe something will happen that will make it all clear to us!
JAMES:Let's hope so!
There were many things that they couldn't really understand while they just saw Jesus as flesh-and-blood. It was not many days after this that something did happen - something that shattered them at first, then puzzled them and finally made it all clear to them.

From Between the Lines. Dialogues for Worship by Peter J. Blackburn published by Testimonium Fellowship 1992, © Peter J. Blackburn.
Permission is given for copying of this document for local use with this copyright notice intact. For any other proposed use the specific permission of Peter J. Blackburn must be sought.

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