From: John ZuHone
Verse 5 of today’s reading in John is my confirmation verse: “I am the Vine, you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit. Apart from me, you can do nothing.” These are both challenging and yet comforting words from Jesus. They are challenging because they go to the heart of our biggest problem—our tendency to attempt to “branch out” from some other “vine”. For me, it would be intellectual ability. For others, they seek to find their ultimate identity in their family, their wealth, their social status, their political affiliation, or a whole host of other things. Note that none of these are necessarily bad things in and of themselves, of course—but they become idols when we try to make them the “vine”. This was illustrated very profoundly in a famous commencement speech at Kenyon College by David Foster Wallace:
“There is no such thing as not worshipping. Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship. And an outstanding reason for choosing some sort of God or spiritual-type thing to worship… is that pretty much anything else you worship will eat you alive.”
But Jesus won’t. On the contrary, he threw himself to the wolves of sin and death for us. Verse 13: “No one has greater love than this: to lay down his life for his friends.” His resurrection means he lives forever to be the Vine that we can branch off of and bear fruit for the good of our neighbor, the flourishing of creation, and the glory of God.
I’m an astrophysicist at the Harvard Observatory, studying galaxy clusters and X-ray astronomy. I enjoy spending time with my wife, having good conversation with friends, reading books, and playing the occasional Mario game.