Before coming on full-time for Vintage City, I had the privilege of working at my dad’s construction business. Needless to say, I have plenty of stories that cover every spectrum of emotion. However, when I read today’s scripture, one story stood out.
Several years ago, while we were at a local hardware store, I noticed that my dad was rubbing his eye in an exaggerated way. I asked him what he was doing, and he informed me that he couldn’t see out the top half of his right eye. In his old-school/stubborn ways, he immediately dismissed it as allergies and went on to tell me that it had been doing that for over a week. Well, I had to call his bluff on that one. Luckily, my younger brother is in the medical field so it was easy enough to guilt my dad into calling him. Sure enough, after hearing his symptoms, my brother informed him that he had been experiencing a series of mini-strokes.
Long story short, my dad had 80% blockage in his carotid artery and was immediately scheduled for surgery. After recouping from the surgery and going for a post-op eye exam, the optometrist explained how fortunate my dad was that he didn’t lose his vision in that eye. In fact, he informed him that it could have been a matter of minutes had the clot not broken free and allowed blood to flow back to the eye.
Similarly to my dad’s story, notice how Jesus compares our life in the Father as being connected to the vine. When we are connected, we are full of life and produce good fruit. But, when we are disconnected from the source, it has the adverse effect. And as time goes on, eventually we are pruned from the vine.
Jesus goes even further to point out that when we are connected to the Father, we seek to bring Him glory. He even says that we have the ability to “ask for whatever you want, and it will be done for you.” Now, I personally do not believe that Jesus is preaching a ‘get-rich prosperity gospel’ when He says this. Instead, He gives us clarity in His very prayer. When we stay connected to the Source, our mind stays focused. Instead of seeking personal gain, we are selfless for the Kingdom. Our heart aligns to the Father’s and seeks to do His will. This alone makes our requests pure at heart. So pure that, in the case of Jesus, He was willing to carry out the will of the Father, even to death.
Prayer: Jesus, thank You for your sacrifice. Thank you for your willingness to humble yourself to carry my sins. And as you wrestled with emotion, you remained committed and connected to the Father’s call. Forgive me for the ways that I have let myself be drawn away from You. May I seek to reestablish the connection to the Source of life and in all things, bring glory to You. Thank you for Your love.
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 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."
After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed:
“Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.
“I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word. Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you. For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me. I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours. All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them. I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one. While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled.
“I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them. I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.
“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me."