Wait on the LORD: be of good courage,
and he shall strengthen thine heart;
wait, I say, on the LORD.
- Psalm 27:14
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I am the Vine, Ye are the branches 6/17/2012
Today is a very special day in the life of four of our dear young people in our congregation, for it is the day when they are going to give testimony of that which they believe concerning spiritual truths. It is the tradition within our Apostolic Lutheran Church to offer them opportunity to confess before God and the congregation of that work which Christ has begun in them and which He promises to complete unto the day when He returns. Upon the affirmations that they believe and promise to adhere to the doctrines of the Scriptures as believed and taught in the Apostolic Lutheran Church of America, they will be invited to partake of the body and the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ through Holy Communion.

Recently they attended a confirmation camp in Upper Michigan along with 44 other young people from other congregations for a five day period. It was a blessed time during which there was biblical and catechetical instruction and fellowship between all that were present at the camp. Our young people from Kingston had been asked to come up with a verse from the Bible which could be used on the tee shirts along with a logo. They did so and at camp the tee shirts were worn at times by the confirmands. They chose John 15:5,

I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.

This was a statement that Jesus made when He was speaking alone with His disciples just prior going to offer Himself as the Sacrifice for the world's sins and therefore as the Saviour of the world. At the end of Chapter 12 of John, He had closed his public ministry and now He was wanting bring as much assurance and encouragement as possible to His beloved disciples, for He knew that they would be confused and scattered at the upcoming events of his arrest, torture, suffering and death.....They would wonder whatever happened to their Saviour...

In Chapter 13 of John, Jesus demonstrated His imminent laying down of his life for the world by humbling Himself before His disciples by washing their feet, saying to them that they do not know what He is doing now, but they will understand later. He then participated in the annual Passover feast with them as had been the custom ever since Moses had led the Israelites through the Red Sea away from the bondage of Egypt. We remember that the LORD God had instituted a memorial for them to mark this deliverance of out Egypt, a remembering that was to be forever. We read about this in the book of Exodus.

Exodus 12:21 Then Moses called for all the elders of Israel, and said unto them, Draw out and take you a lamb according to your families, and kill the passover.
22 And ye shall take a bunch of hyssop, and dip it in the blood that is in the bason, and strike the lintel and the two side posts with the blood that is in the bason; and none of you shall go out at the door of his house until the morning.
23 For the LORD will pass through to smite the Egyptians; and when he seeth the blood upon the lintel, and on the two side posts, the LORD will pass over the door, and will not suffer the destroyer to come in unto your houses to smite you.
24 And ye shall observe this thing for an ordinance to thee and to thy sons for ever.
25 And it shall come to pass, when ye be come to the land which the LORD will give you, according as he hath promised, that ye shall keep this service.
26 And it shall come to pass, when your children shall say unto you, What mean ye by this service?
27 That ye shall say, It is the sacrifice of the LORD'S passover, who passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt, when he smote the Egyptians, and delivered our houses. And the people bowed the head and worshipped.

This annual Passover meal with it's physical reminders of their past deliverance had been observed for years and now as was yet the custom, Jesus sat down with them to "remember again." But this night was going to be different from all the other nights of the Passover feast...

Luke 22:14 And when the hour was come, he sat down, and the twelve apostles with him.
15 And he said unto them, With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer:
16 For I say unto you, I will not any more eat thereof, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God.
17 And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, Take this, and divide it among yourselves:
18 For I say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come.

We need to stop here and think of what is happening. Up to this time in this meal, everything is going according to the way it has always gone, in that all the same rituals are done which have great significance of meaning toward their past, but yet with a look toward the future. We can imagine that they are lost in the joy of the deliverance that God had brought their forefathers so that the life they lived in now was due to their Great God. They must have been lost in worship of Him and in that joy and peace, perhaps some of the uncertainty of the moment left them. As they were in this mind set, the Passover meal being done, Jesus took bread........

And then He took the cup.....

19 And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me.
20 Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.

He pointed towards His death and the new covenant in His blood, which is shed for the sins of the world. Note He did not say, it will be shed, but that it is shed. With commitment that surpasses all other commitment, Our Saviour had set his face like flint toward the cross and our redemption, and nothing was going to stop Him from completed His mission of love and joy so that we could be in Him. In God's mind and will, the remdemption of the world was past, since there is not difference between His promise and His fulfilment. All that was needed was for it to take place in time, and now the time was drawing near when He would display the wonders of His love for the whole world to see. This would take place so that we could be branches on the Vine, that would bear much fruit. So that we could be in Him, but not only in Him, but we could be One with Him and with the Father. Chapter 17 of this Gospel gives explanation to this Oneness.

How much did the disciples understand at that point? It does not seem like they understood much, for shortly after this they were scattered apart from Him. But Jesus did not waver in His commitment towards them and for them. He continued toward the cross....so that they could become one in Him, so that we could become one in Him.....He continued toward the cross, He was betrayed....He gave Himself to his tormentors, He did not resist being nailed to the cross....His first words were of forgiveness to those who were at the cross, He was forsaken by His Father...........He shouted, "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? which is, being interpreted, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" .....He yielded his life as an atonement for sin.......But on the third day He arose again from the dead...He ascended to heaven, where He now reigns and superintends His church through the Spirit.....

What must it have been like for the early believers to come together after the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, after He had been with them for forty days teaching them those things that they would need for their continuing ministry? What joy must have permeated their souls when they came together, whether in the temple or in their homes that they gathered in?

The book of Acts gives us some indication of how they grasped the significance of it
remembering his death til he comes again, for it is written in Chapter 2 of Acts:

KJV Acts 2:46 And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart,

They lived in the reality of that which they had heard Jesus say midway into his talk with them in John's Gospel, in chapter 15. (His talk is recorded in Chapters 13-17).

KJV John 15:5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.

May we grow in our understanding and experience of who God has made us in Jesus Christ, through His death and resurrection, which is also our death and resurrection. He lives, therefore we live, and living in this reality, we not only remember the past deliverance, but we also live in that victory by faith today and consequently we steadfastly journey throught this life in the expectation of the joy of the future, as we view life in the light of this expected reunion with our Saviour and God! Lord, increase our faith..........

May the Holy Spirit today open up to us of the significance of this meal that we partake of together as the body of Christ which brings to us all the gifts of His grace, most importantly, the forgiveness of sins through and in the New Covenant.

In His forgiveness, we rejoice today!!

Pastor Orval Wirkkala
Posted on 17 Jun 2012 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala
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The Cross of Christ 2.25.2018
- Posted by Pastor Orval Wirkkala

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