Saturday, November 11
Yesterday’s blog presented the core message of John 15, but Jesus made some related statements that are harder to deal with. One of them is verse 6, which speaks of branches that are discarded and burned up. There are four possible interpretations of this statement. 1) They represent those who started out as believers and then lost their salvation and will end up in hell. But this view contradicts other Scriptures that teach that a believer cannot lose his salvation. 2) It refers to professing believers, those who perform like believers, but aren’t—Judas for example. But this raises a question, too. How can an unbeliever be connected to Christ, the life-giving vine? 3) Some think the severed branches refer to Christians who lose out on heavenly rewards (1 Cor. 3:15). But this interpretation doesn’t seem to fit the context. The branches are disciples, not the fruit. 4) The severed branches simply suggest that there is pruning to be done, a way to produce more fruit or better fruit. But it also does not identify the branches as disciples. Like the commentators, I don’t have a clear cut answer to this, but there are a couple things that might help. Maybe it’s a paradox, a seeming contradiction that defies reason. I say “let a paradox be a paradox.” It’s better to be uncertain than wrong. Secondly, without doubt the context is dealing with believers—his very own close disciples. Introducing non-believers tends to violate the context. Thirdly, like parables, analogies are meant to emphasize a single point. When we carry them beyond that main point, other problems generally surface. The main point of this one is that we bear more fruit. Jesus was teaching his disciples how to do that.