This is Sunday's gospel text from The Message:
John 15:1-8 The Message (MSG)
15 1-3 “I am the Real Vine and my Father is the Farmer. He cuts off every branch of me that doesn’t bear grapes. And every branch that is grape-bearing he prunes back so it will bear even more. You are already pruned back by the message I have spoken.
4 “Live in me. Make your home in me just as I do in you. In the same way that a branch can’t bear grapes by itself but only by being joined to the vine, you can’t bear fruit unless you are joined with me.
5-8 “I am the Vine, you are the branches. When you’re joined with me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant. Separated, you can’t produce a thing. Anyone who separates from me is deadwood, gathered up and thrown on the bonfire. But if you make yourselves at home with me and my words are at home in you, you can be sure that whatever you ask will be listened to and acted upon. This is how my Father shows who he is—when you produce grapes, when you mature as my disciples.
I like the way The Message translates the first verse of John 15, "I am the Real Vine." My mind goes to the opposite of real, which is fake or artificial. I can't help but think of someone seeing a gorgeous bowl of fruit, just to find out the fruit is plastic, just as this little girl discovered: . It's so frustrating to be fooled like that. The grapes at the top of this page are phony, even though they look delicious. The grapes at the bottom of the page are real.
We may have trouble differentiating real from phony fruit, but it is a non issue if we continue to live in Christ. What Farmer God has for us is the real deal by living in the Real Vine. Being in an "intimate and organic" relationship with Jesus will not disappoint us. And when we live in Christ, the Real Vine, we produce spiritual, not fake fruit and God is not disappointed.
Let us settle for nothing less than God's best, the real thing.