Today’s reading: John 15
Another important parallel in today’s reading. Recall that the events we are reading now are taking place within the context of the Last Supper. The extensive teachings of Jesus are his final verbal lessons to his Apostles before the Passion begins. Notice what Jesus says to them in this passage:
I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinegrower. He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit. You have already been cleansed by the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing. Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.
If we go back to John 6 we can see that Jesus stresses some of these same themes:
So Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day; for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them. Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like that which your ancestors ate, and they died. But the one who eats this bread will live forever.” He said these things while he was teaching in the synagogue at Capernaum. John 6:53-59
It’s important to remind us of context. John 6, the Bread of Life Discourse, happened exactly one year prior, also on Passover. Jesus has just gone through the Last Supper, held the bread in his hands and said, “this is my body”, reminding the Apostles of the connection between the bread and the body. Now he talks extensively about abiding within the Apostles and them within him. Jesus is clearing emphasizing to the Apostles the importance of the Last Supper that had just taken place. Here, in John 15, Jesus is explaining to the Apostles what the EFFECT of the Eucharist in a person. Remember, the belief in the truth of the Eucharist is the ultimate act of trust in Christ. That you can and would eat the body of blood of God is “a hard saying”. Many of his followers abandoned Jesus over the teaching. Even the Apostles doubted but stayed with the Lord solely out of love and trust.
Tomorrow: John 16