Summary: Jesus is the True Vine, not traditions, rituals, or sacrifices.

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Two hunters were out hunting and come upon what appeared at first as an abandoned farm. The barn was sagging, the house was in disrepair, and there were junk cars and car parts lying around. The only thing that made it a working farm was a few chickens pecking away and a goat wandering around.

As they entered the yard, they came across an old well.

One asked the other "Wonder how deep it is."

The other said, "We'll have to drop something down and listen for the splash."

They look around for something to drop down the well, but the only thing close by was an old transmission. They both hauled it over to the well and dropped it in. They counted and waited a long time for the splash. It was deep, deep one all right.

They turned to leave and saw the goat was charging at them, head down, horns headed straight for them. At the last moment, they jumped aside, and the goat went right past them and straight over the side and down the well. They looked at each other in amazement.

As they started to leave, the owner of the farm came up.

They chatted for a moment and got permission to hunt on his land. The farmer asked, "Have you seen my goat?"

They said, "Your goat almost killed us charging at us.

You should have had that goat tied up."

The farmer, "I thought I had him tied up to an old transmission."

LESSON: You follow what you're tied to (Rick Pendleton)

Today we will teach about the last I AM statement that Jesus will make. So far, we have learned that Jesus used the Hebrew word “haya” (hay-yaw) which is the same word God used when introducing himself to Moses. We learned that this word was interpreted in Greek to be a combination of two words. One was ego, which meant with emphasis. The other was eimi (I-mee) which meant to be. Jesus was emphasizing his right to make the claim that He was equal to God based on his very existence. He was claiming to be God. He claimed to be the Bread of Life, the Light of the World, the Gate to the sheepfold, the Good Shepherd, the Resurrection and the Life, the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

As the fifteenth chapter of John begins, Jesus and his disciples have just finished the Passover meal. Judas has the left the group to set up the betrayal. Jesus and the remaining disciples are headed to the Garden of Gethsemane. This will be his last chance to teach them.

As they are heading in that direction perhaps they pass near some grape vines. Jesus may have picked one up and begin teaching scriptures that they would have been familiar to them. Scriptures such as Psalm 80:8-10 where David painted a picture of the fruitfulness of Israel. “You brought us from Egypt like a grapevine; you drove away the pagan nations and transplanted us into your land. You cleared the ground for us,

and we took root and filled the land. Our shade covered the mountains; our branches covered the mighty cedars.”

Then He may have quoted Isaiah 5:1-2 about Israel beginning to fall away. “Now I will sing for the one I love a song about his vineyard: My beloved had a vineyard

on a rich and fertile hill. He plowed the land, cleared its stones,

and planted it with the best vines. In the middle, he built a watchtower and carved a winepress in the nearby rocks. Then he waited for a harvest of sweet grapes, but the grapes that grew were bitter.”

Next He may have taught on Jeremiah 2:21 who, speaking for God, said “But I was the one who planted you, choosing a vine of the purest stock—the very best. How did you grow into this corrupt wild vine?”

Perhaps it was in this setting that He makes his next claim.

John 15:5 “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.” He would have made the point that Israel failed to produce the refreshing fruit.

His claim; I AM the vine, not Israel. I AM the vine, not traditions. I AM the vine, not rituals. I AM the vine, not sacrifices. I AM.

We must understand the necessity of the clarity to his followers that no longer would their past religion be sufficient. These guys were Jewish. They would have been steeped in their traditions, rituals, and sacrifices. They would have considered these things to be the life giving nutriments for their spirituality. He needed to be sure they understood that He was the vine that would provide what their religion failed too. Today, as Christmas approaches, we need to be reminded that only Jesus can state, “I AM the vine.”

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