With fall’s break from our beastly-hot weather, I am finally returning to my garden. I confess to being a fair-weather gardener! Beyond the brief dashes to claim cucumbers or adjust sprinkler spray, during these summer months I have not been the picture of devotion like our Father, the Gardener. Hence the work before me now: many clean-up, shape-up chores including pruning our grapevine. Wow! The vine has sent trailing branches in every direction, entwining the ground cover, boxwood hedge, and tree branches above in its surrounds. In witnessing and working around the vine’s vibrant hilarity despite a sun-scorched summer, my mind rings with God’s Word, “I am the true vine…I am the vine and you are the branches (John 15:1,5 NIV).”
As you know, dear gardeners, this Scripture passage has turned out to be a cornerstone for my life, inspiring my plunge into nearly ALL the gardening references in the Bible in God’s Word for Gardeners Bible, and offering the title of my new book, My Father is the Gardener. Yet here I am again, in awe of the mysterious elegance of Jesus, describing Himself as this abounding plant-type, embodying the vitality of life that vines display. Wow! He is everywhere in all directions, then; while I am constantly trying to settle down the Lord into trim, pinpointed, predictable rows of vegetable seedlings, so to speak, He is a wildly waltzing vine of spiraling connection, allusion, and movement, encircling and far-reaching across the Scriptures and into the heavens.
The Great I AM
Even the vine metaphor cannot contain or explain Him in full; “I am the true vine” is the seventh in a series of “I AM” revelations in the book of John, all encircling His commission to bring us life.
The other three gospels give us the history of Christ, but John writes to unveil the mystery of Christ. Jesus is seen as the sacrificial Lamb of God, the Good Shepherd, the Kind forgiver, the Tender Healer, the Compassionate Intercessor, and the great I AM. Who can resist this man when he tugs on your heart to come to him? To read John’s Gospel is to encounter Jesus.John Introduction, The Passion Translation® New Testament with Psalms, Proverbs and Song of Songs, 2020 Edition
Find a cool spot this autumn morning and reflect on the great I AM with me. May you encounter Jesus; may your garden be His meeting place.
Jesus replied: I am the bread that gives life! No one who comes to me will ever be hungry. No one who has faith in me will ever be thirsty. John 6:35 CEV
Yeshua spoke to them again: “I am the light of the world; whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light which gives life.” John 8:12 CJB
I speak to you an eternal truth: I am the Gate for the flock…I am the Gateway. To enter through me is to experience life, freedom, and satisfaction…I have come to give you everything in abundance, more than you expect—life in its fullness until you overflow! John 10:7, 9, 10 TPT
I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd gives His life for the sheep. John 10:11 NLV
Yeshua said to her, “I AM the Resurrection and the Life! Whoever puts his trust in me will live, even if he dies; and everyone living and trusting in me will never die. Do you believe this?” John 11:25-26 CJB
Jesus said, “I am the Way and the Truth and the Life. No one can go to the Father except by Me. John 14:6 NLV
I am the Vine and you are the branches. Get your life from Me. Then I will live in you and you will give much fruit. You can do nothing without Me. John 15:5 NLV
Prayer: O Lord Jesus, thank you for life! Thank you for your nourishing, quenching, sustaining, illuminating access to life. Thank you for drawing me to you and leading me to put my trust in you. Yes, I believe! Help me to feel secure in your swirling Way, not to be distracted in confusion but persevering in trust that you are always on the move to life in abundance. O gentle, caring Shepherd, lead me into greater embrace and revelation of You. I praise you for being the Truth and the Way I want to live. Thank you for reuniting me with the Father to dwell. Unveil all of this mystery as we work in the garden together. Amen.
A study note for John 11:25 in The Complete Jewish Study Bible, Illuminating the Jewishness of God’s Word (Peabody, Mass., Hendrickson Publishers Marketing LLC, 2016), inspired this Devotion, pointing out that there are 7 “I am…” statements made by Jesus, ending in John 15. Many thanks to Lisa Rubin at Messianic Jewish Publishers for a personal copy of this marvelous Bible! Visit www.messianicjewish.net/
Many thanks to the brilliant work in The Passion Translation®, New Testament with Psalms, Proverbs and Song of Songs, 2020 Edition, copyright ©2020 Passion & Fire Ministries, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ThePassionTranslation.com, Visit www.thepassiontranslation.com/
Order now! My Father is the Gardener, Devotions in Botany and Gardening of the Bible is available from the publisher, BRIT Press, and ships right away. Click the link to learn more about the book and preview the first chapter.
Photo Credits: ©Shelley S. Cramm, cover photo taken at The Gardens at Texas A&M University, which hosts a wonderful display of grapevines
CEV notes Scripture quotations taken from the Contemporary English Version Copyright © 1991, 1992, 1995 by American Bible Society, Used by Permission.
CJB notes Scripture quotations taken from the Complete Jewish Bible by David H. Stern. Copyright © 1998. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Messianic Jewish Publishers, 6120 Day Long Lane, Clarksville, MD 21029. www.messianicjewish.net.
NIV denotes Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.®
NLV denotes Scripture quotations taken from the New Life Version, copyright © 1969 and 2003. Used by permission of Barbour Publishing, Inc., Uhrichsville, Ohio 44683. All rights reserved.
TPT denotes Scripture quotations taken from The Passion Translation®. Copyright © 2017, 2018, 2020 by Passion & Fire Ministries, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ThePassionTranslation.com