One of the most striking characteristics of the ministry of Jesus was His complete lack of respect for religion. You think I’m bad, Jesus said things like religious tradition rendered Scripture ineffective while accusing some religious leaders of being nothing more than well-dressed coffins. You see, not unlike our own time, things had gotten pretty far off track by the time Jesus arrived on the Earth. The Israelites, at the time, had become quite adept at patting themselves on the back. They had gotten really good at reminding themselves, and anyone else that would listen, that God had specifically chosen them even though they didn’t seem all that certain as to what they were chosen for. But, to be honest, to them, the reason they were chosen didn’t really matter because being chosen is being chosen; am I right? Things aren’t so different now. I tell you all the time, the Church is in a very similar position today as the Israelites were in Jesus’ time. God has chosen the Church…the original word actually means “ones called out”…to spread the Gospel and because of that He is actively working in our midst. In that respect, we are just like the Israelites. God is guiding the Church and using the Church to demonstrate His Love and Mercy to “all the nations” and His promise is that He is with us in that effort (Matthew 28:19-20). And, like the Israelites, we have corrupted our responsibility into self-serving privilege. By the way, this is why we teach from the Old Testament. Some think that book is closed and the church is only to be concerned with the Gospels and the New Testament. WRONG. We have a great deal to learn from Genesis on through Malachi.
By the time Jesus was born, the Hebrew system of worship was already very, very old. The Jewish people had already been interacting with God for many, many centuries. During their long history together there were many ups and downs in the relationship between God and His people…mostly downs but all the while in the lives of every Jew there was ALWAYS religion. Ever-present were the rituals and the symbols and the laws and…the Word. Scripture, was constantly on the minds of the people but the funny thing about human beings is we don’t seem to leave things alone. We don’t stay satisfied very long with “current” understanding. Today we call it “evolving”. I’m not sure what they called it in ancient Israel but the effect was the same. Their Scripture clearly stated one thing but in their minds, that wasn’t enough. You see, the problem, apparently, is the Bible wants us to worship Someone who doesn’t speak the way we like Him to, look the way we want Him to and act the way we want Him to. You may say, “Yeah, but, that’s the way the Bible describes Him.” Well, the unsatisfied doubter may respond, “Yeah, but I don’t like that. Why don’t we change it?” There are a lot of unsatisfied doubters and they’ve been around a long time.
For centuries the Israelites read about “vines” in their Scripture. They had always known how important these things were in their society so seeing vines referred to in their Sacred Text seemed natural. God’s Word talked about vines. In fact, once it even said that when God established Israel, He intended them to be “a noble vine”(Jeremiah 2:21). They liked that. Who wouldn’t? Elsewhere God had said similar things and, eventually, the notion of Israel as a vine…again, an extremely important plant in that land, started to get into their heads. The problem, again can I say, is that they seemed to misunderstand what being a vine meant. Instead of seeing that vines exist to nourish and serve; instead of realizing that vines are established for the purpose of producing fruit, they only saw themselves as pretty plants only meant to be admired. Let me say again, be careful, Christian, about judging those people. The church was established to feed a world hungry for Truth and like those ancient people, I think we’ve missed it. The Church has elevated itself as the one to BE SERVED not the one TO SERVE. Jesus had to say to those of His day and to us today, “I am the True Vine “(John 15:1). They needed that reminder and so do we.
Join me today as we discuss this most important centering message. As much as they needed it 2,000 years ago, we, the modern Church need to refocus on what our true purpose and position is and, more importantly, who serves who. Christ as the True Vine and the Father as the Husbandman must remain in the forefront of our minds as we move out into our DAILY lives. He must be the object of our efforts in all we do. So, as always, before you press “Play” ask God to help you to see what His Word has been saying for all time. Pray that the Holy Spirit will guide you to a better understanding of the meaning of your life. Ask Him to help you see how His Word applies to you.