Are you connected? With the proliferation of cell phones, the internet, and social media we can connect and communicate with almost anyone almost anywhere in the world. Just a glance at Twitter tells me one friend just ate a delicious cookie. Another tweeted he was seeking prayer for his church.
Trivial? Mundane? No. They are identical to the crumbs of conversation friends would drop casually while sitting on the back deck of an evening. Identical except . . . . They just happen to be bits of electronic data flung across the planet.
Identical except this electronic connecting makes me yearn for more.
“What kind of cookie? Pray for what?” I would ask if we were physically close. I would listen to the tone as well as the words, taste the cookie, grasp hands to pray and feel heat or cool–but life anyway. A deeper more organic connection would happen, the kind of connection Jesus is referring to when he calls himself the vine.
Eugene C. Scott joins Mike in writing A Daily Bible Conversation twice a week.
TODAY’S READING (click here to view today’s reading online)
2 Samuel 9:1-11:27
INSIGHTS AND EXPLANATIONS
2 Samuel 9:1-11:27: 75-80% of the Bible is narrative, true story. Sometimes then it helps to read these sections not as propositional problems to be solved but stories to be drawn in to and experienced.
This section of 2 Samuel reads like the key chapter in a well written novel. We open the chapter with David, our protagonist, stepping into his long fought for role as king of Israel. Instead of disposing of all those who may contest his throne, he grants mercy and protection to Jonathan’s son and reaches out a royal hand of fellowship to the son of an opposing king. He truly is a different kind of king, not just from Saul, but from any we have read about so far. He is fearless, righteous, brave, kind, and a man after God’s own heart.
As readers we love David; we believe in him.
Then as our hopes soar, David falls as far and as horribly as any despot ever. The chapter ends with David using his power to seduce a married woman. He orders his entire army into battle to cover up that sin. Uriah, the husband, is killed along with other good and true soldiers. The scepter he wielded with justice and mercy now drips with innocent blood.
And as with any good page turner, we plunge on in the story asking, “How will this end? If there is no hope for one such as David, how can there be hope for me?”
The Author smiles and says, “Read on. I have a surprise ending in store for you that you will just not believe.”
John 15:1-27: In the discussion of Jesus readying his disciples for his death and departure and of the coming of the Holy Spirit, we often overlook a key fact. Jesus, being God in flesh, is bound by time and space. He spent time with a few disciples in part because his divinity was constrained by his humanity. While he remained thus he could only be present to those in close proximity. Though he lived and died and rose for all, he could not be present to all. Only God the Holy Spirit could.
I’ve heard many people say they wish they could have seen Jesus while he walked the earth. That is a tantalizing thought. But unless you or I were Jewish or Roman living within approximately 100 miles of Jerusalem, we would have lived and died without ever knowing Jesus ever took a breath. The Holy Spirit, however, not being bound by flesh and time and space, brings God the Father and God the Son’s close, comforting, tangible presence to us anywhere, anytime just as Jesus did for those few who saw physically him. We are the fortunate ones.
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THE WORD MADE FRESH
Some people think that Jesus used so many agrarian word pictures because of the time in which he lived. But if Jesus had come in 2010 instead of the first century, I don’t believe he would have changed his agrarian “I am the vine” metaphor to match modern times. In attempting to sound hip and relevant he would not have said, “I am the internet. Stay online with me.”
Isaac Asimov, the great science fiction writer, unknowingly predicting the internet, wrote a story about when one final connection of a massive telephone system was made, the system came to life and took over the world. But obviously this has not happened and will not. The internet is inanimate, inorganic, dead. The internet, more connected and massive than even Asimov could imagine, only is able to pass on information, some of it even useful.
Jesus, however, came not just to pass on information about life, but life itself. And life is organic and calls for a connection altogether different than the internet provides. Jesus saying he is the vine uses no mere handy word picture to try and help us understand him. If I disconnect from the internet, I may lose touch with distant people and information but I am still alive. If I disconnect from Jesus, like a branch broken and hanging by a strip of bark, I slowly (so slowly I may not for years notice) dry up and die.
In calling himself the vine once again Jesus reminds me that knowing about him is not enough. Nor is believing in him so that one day I can go to heaven. Knowing Jesus means being inseparably connected heart, soul, and strength to him.
Are you connected? Being connected through the internet is good, but it’s not enough, especially where Jesus is concerned. If we are not growing and changing, producing fruit, if his life, blood, wisdom, peace, forgiveness–his very self–is not flowing flow through us from the moment we believe on, then we had better check our connection.
- What theme or idea that connects these four readings?
- When have you been most connected to Jesus?
- What is your story?
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Eugene co-pastors The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, CO and writes a blog eugenesgodsightings.blogspot.com