Readings: Acts 8:26-40, 1 John 4:7-21, John 15:1-8
the Bread of Life; the Light of the world; the Gate; the Resurrection and the Life; the Way, the Truth and the Life; the Good Shepherd; and the True Vine.
These are the seven “I AM” statements of Jesus in John’s gospel. Through each of them Jesus tells his disciples something about who he is for them.
Last week: I AM the Good Shepherd. The one who loves his sheep, is willing to lay down is life for their sake, the one who guards, guides, teaches, who is a friend to his sheep.
This week: I AM the True Vine. Jesus is the source of our love, our life—our very being is in him, and is dependent upon remaining in him.
The question to think about today is, “who is Jesus, for you?”
Is Jesus the Shepherd who guides you, who is your friend—anointing you with oil, spreading a feast for you even as your enemies surround?
Is he your source of hope and life, the one who holds you together with others who abide in him?
Who is Jesus, for you?
In Acts, Jesus’ apostle Philip meets an Ethiopian eunuch on a desert road, and the Holy Spirit prompts him to have conversation. Philip starts talking with him and, at the end of their conversation, the eunuch asks to be baptized.
Now don’t you wish you knew what Philip said? All we are told is that Philip started proclaiming the Good News about Jesus, starting with the scripture in front of him. Whatever he said, it was enough to make the eunuch ask to be baptized.
What did he say? What would you say if you were Philip, an apostle of Jesus Christ?
Our gospel lessons this season have had Jesus sending out his disciples—and even giving them the Holy Spirit. When they receive the Holy Spirit, they are sent out into the world to be Jesus’ witnesses, to be Jesus’ proclamation—they are his hands and feet and mouth, equipped with the Holy Spirit.
But look here: you, too, are equipped and sent to be Jesus’ messengers. In Baptism you have received the Holy Spirit.
Imagine yourself being anointed, like the mark of a cross on your brow, with the Holy Spirit—the one we profess is “the Lord, the giver of Life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son, who with the Father and the Son is worshiped and glorified, who has spoken through the prophets.”
Actually, you don’t have to imagine because you have been! You are anointed with nothing less than THE Holy Spirit, as a baptized follower of Christ. You are an apostle like Philip.
I think that we aren’t told what Philip said because it’s not real unless it’s incarnated in our own story. Who is Jesus for you? Not for Philip, but for you?
That is what is important for the people around you: who is Jesus for you?
For me, Jesus is the God who comes into the messiness of this world to bring life and wholeness to it all. For me, Jesus is the one who is decidedly on the side of people who are hurting, broken, taken advantage of and ignored.
For me, Jesus is the one who is here, now, in the world lifting up those who are laid low—who is showing love to those who’ve been hurt, abandoned, or given up on by the rest of us. Jesus is the one who is good news for hurting, real, people.
Because if Jesus is not good news for the out-cast, the nobody, the eunuch—He’s not good news for me.
If Jesus is only good news for those the world already lifts up, or for those who can lift up themselves, he is too weak savior.
For me, Jesus is the True Vine who nourishes us with the love of God, with himself—God’s love that is incarnate in Jesus. He is the Love that is for all the world, poured out for us in Holy Communion, and sent into the world through you and me. The True Vine that holds us all together and in God’s love.
Who is Jesus, for you?
Find a way today to articulate that.
Then, as we say at the end of every service this season,
You are the body of Christ raised up for the world. Go in peace, share the Good News!