Botany is used to illustrate points in many passages in the Bible. God uses grass, lilies, fig trees, seeds, weeds, and grapevines to make allegorical references to the way our lives are lived. I’d learned of this old grape variety and found the cultivar after searching for a couple of years. I carefully planted the vine, but at the end of summer it looked dead. I was disappointed and wondered if I hadn’t cared for it properly. I was going to dig it up and throw it on the fire, but didn’t get around to it. When spring arrived, I was surprised to find my “dead” grapevine was very much alive!
During Easter Week, many are obviously thinking about Jesus’ crucifixion, death, burial and resurrection. I always try to think from the disciples’ perspective. Old Testament prophesies had been foretelling for centuries, even millennia, what would take place concerning the Messiah. Jesus had been telling His disciples that He was The One who was to come, and was explaining all the things that were about to take place. Yet, when the closest students of Jesus saw their teacher hanging on the public instrument of execution, dead and humiliated between two thieves, they forgot what they believed only hours before and now acted on the appearance of what they saw. No longer hearing their Rabbi’s promises, they reluctantly tried to resolve themselves to accept the physical, visible appearance of death – kind of like my grapevines.
Even as the Roman centurion at the cross proclaimed “Surely this man was the Son of God!” Jesus’ disciples – those who should most certainly be joyously expecting to see him alive again very soon – left Golgotha confused, despondent and defeated. They were convinced death had won. But how could this be? They should have been filled with life and joy as they expected the miraculous resurrection of Jesus. Instead, to the crowd of crucifixion onlookers, the followers of Christ appeared almost as dead as Jesus himself. Some of the disciples wandered off, some hid fearing they would be next and some even denied having anything to do with Jesus.
I think of my daughter telling me “Daddy – the grapevine near the barn has leaves on it!” Then I think of Mary Magdalene running to the home where the disciples were meeting to tell them she had just been with Jesus in the garden near the tomb. He’s ALIVE! The look on Simon’s face must have been priceless. Just a couple of nights before, he was so convinced of the death of Jesus that he was willing to deny knowing him without fear of having to apologize for it. Now, if Jesus was alive, the joy that should have been had been replaced with guilt because Simon doubted the resurrection promise. The question in Simon’s mind was simple; was Jesus dead or alive? The rub is, faith should have prevented the presence of the question in the first place.
Without knowing the source of life, sometimes it’s hard to tell if something – or someone – is dead or alive. However, when Jesus is that source then He says “alive” and that’s a guarantee there’s life in the vine that will prevent it from being thrown on the fire.
© 2014 Curt Savage Media