Genesis 39-40; John 15; Psalm 26-27
Through our reading in John today, we encounter a theme of great significance. Jesus’, the one who did not trust himself to men, for he knew what was in them – identifies himself with his church, the gathered disciples. The nature of that identification is of unimaginable depth – that which will cause Paul to exclaim, NOTHING will be able to separate us from the love of God, in Christ Jesus our Lord.
The surety of this identification is found in the eternal security of Jesus’ identification with the Father. “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father”
Out of this unalterable eternal Love that is God, springs Life in the True vine. The vine, of old the symbol of God’s life bearing fruit amongst his people, the Kingdom. As we read the story of God’s people in Genesis, of the travails of Jacob’s offspring, wondering how on Earth God will work salvation through such unlikely material, we must needs hear the words of Christ – “I am the true vine . . . I am the true vine” – a constant flow of life giving water. Jesus identifies with Israel and in speaking to the disciples, the church. And this identification is profound. I am the vine, you are the branches. I am Life! I am Your Life!
And that identification of Christ with the disciples draws them into all it means to be his – to be so caught up in Him that we are caught up in what he is doing, and all that that means. His life, his Joy, his suffering. Not only does Christ draw us into his self identification with the Father, now also the world turns its gaze upon the disciples and sees Christ “If the world hates you, be aware that it hated me before it hated you . . . Whoever hates me, hates my Father also”
The hatred of the world for God, for Christ and for his people is not a comfortable one for us to sit with. Either we have known it and the pain of it – or else we perhaps cannot conceive how it is possible. The Good News is not universally welcomed – we must be wary of carving ourselves another gospel, which fits the wisdom of the world, lest we find ourselves removed from the vine, as our lives produce not the fruit of the Kingdom of Christ, but the fruit of the Prince of this world.
Our Genesis story, reveals some of this in its working out. ‘The Lord was with Joseph and he became a successful man’ Yet in the next minute all turns to dust and he finds himself in prison, and what is more having interpreted the dream of the cup bearer, forgotten. The cup bearer does well in the terms of the world – he forgets the one who has done well in the story of God’s life. ‘How is it’, Scripture often asks, ‘that we may do good and yet suffer so’. The answer given plainly by Jesus, the man who is crucified in revealing the perfect will of God, and in the story of Joseph, is that there Is evil in the world which infects the human heart and so seeks to destroy life. ‘They hated the light . . .’
This is the hatred of which Jesus speaks [Jn 7:7] – the evil still at large in the world, in small petty ways, such as the action of Potiphar’s wife, and in large ways, wherein the human king takes it upon himself to be Lord of Life and Death over his servants. An evil which is revealed fully as the Light comes into the world, the one who comes only that they might have Life. This final revelation is at the Cross – brightest of lights – the Son of man is glorified – ‘truly they hated me without cause’ Hate drawn out – hate exposed – that we might know the Light and Live in it.