I am sorry that I could not be with you last Tuesday. I am hoping and praying that we can all be back together next week. Make sure you bundle up this weekend, as it will be bitterly cold.
While Chapter 15 of the Gospel of John is a short chapter, there is so much to see here. In the very first verse Jesus tells us that His Father is the vine grower, or vine dresser in some translations. As our textbook tells us, Israel was the vine which God had planted in the promised land. A vine dresser watches His vine. He tends to it each day. He lovingly prunes the vine. He protects the vine from pests which would destroy it. He does not just plant the vine and walk away.
In verse 16 of the gospel of John Jesus says to us: “It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you…” This verse jumped out at me when I first read this chapter.
We see throughout the Gospels the “calling” of the Apostles. Many hundreds of people followed Jesus, listened to His teaching and even witnessed His miracles. But Jesus chose twelve to be His special friends, to know all that the Father had taught Him.
At the beginning of the Gospel of John we see Andrew and the Evangelist John following Jesus, because their teacher John the Baptist has pointed Jesus out as the Messiah. Jesus turns and asks the two “what are you looking for?” Uncertain what to say, John replies “Rabbi, where do you stay?” In answer, Jesus says “Come, and you will see”. So it began. Each Apostle was invited – Peter, James, son of Zebedee, and John his brother, Andrew, Matthew, Phillip, Bartholomew, Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus, Thaddeus, Simon the Cananean and Judas. These became the Twelve. Many other individuals followed Jesus, but He did not choose them for this special relationship. The twelve, whom He had chosen, stayed, even when other followers left . Of these twelve only one was lost, as was prophesied – Judas.
During the baptismal ceremony we hear the priest or deacon say: “I claim you for Christ,” and then the child is anointed with blessed oil in the sign of the cross on the child’s forehead. And so the newly baptized belong to Jesus. But even before our Baptism, Jesus had chosen us to be His special friends. Jesus chose us before time began. He created us. He knew us. He loved us even then.
Thinking back on my life and on the many missteps that I have made, I am surprised and humbled that Christ chose me. He knew what I would be. He knew the mistakes I would make, He knew when I would deny Him or be angry with Him, and yet He chose me anyway. When I fall in my faith journey, I cry out to the Lord, “Are you sure you didn’t make a mistake?”, “Are you sure that You still want me?” And I imagine that He just smiles in that quiet way He has, helps me up from where I have fallen, and walks with me calmly back to the sheepfold.
Jesus chose you, too. You didn’t choose Him, no matter what you think you might remember. Before you knew Him, He knew you. Before you could choose Him, He had already chosen you. Rejoice with me this week that we are chosen, by the One who is Love beyond understanding.
Remember that you can call Karen or me if you have any question. We hope to see you on Tuesday.
May God bless you all and keep you close to His heart.
Karen and Franciene