<em>John 15:1-2 (ESV) “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does not bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear bore fruit.</em>
<em>Hebrews 12:5-9 (ESV) “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be wary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline?…Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we no much more be subject to the Father.</em>
Our John 15 test is from our Gospel reading for the Fifth Sunday of Easter – Christ is Risen! If you were in church a couple of Sundays ago, you might remember that we talked quite a bit about how our Heavenly Father prunes us as plants. We understand that this pruning is directed at the dead and unfruitful branches that are still attached to us in this life. While the plant analogy is memorable and comforting it is good to understand what our heavenly Father does with us as human children that He dearly loves. Of course He has shown that love through the sending of His Son and Christ’s life, death and resurrection. We are told that through Jesus, God calls us “Sons” and Heirs of His kingdom.
Now that we are His children, He nurtures us as His own. He is like a good earthly father but even more so is. As children we love the positive attention of hugs and tenderness. But positive attention can take the form of discipline and stern reproof. Certainly we do not like the times of reproach and discipline. When we need it and we expect it.
Matter of fact, if the truth be told, we demand correction. Such correction reminds us of just how much our fathers care about and love us. We can understand this only if we have been with good parents and good fathers. The good father wants nothing to do with correction and reproof of his beloved child. There is no joy in the correction of an erring wayward child. But for a father to turn a blind eye to the needs of his child for correction only serves to prove that father doesn’t care at all. Ultimately it proves a lack of love on the father’s part. To correct, admonish, discipline and to even punish is hard.
There is a saying that rings true. Parents can only understand it, and I might say especially fathers. That saying is, “This is going to hurt me more than it’s going to hurt you.” My dad said it to me.” I didn’t understand what he meant until it was my turn to correct my own children. It is so much more enjoyable to heap rewards of praise than to dole out a single word of correction.
What a wonderful thing it is to be chastened by our heavenly Father. Is this not proof that we are his children? We know that good earthly fathers discipline their own children raising them up to be socially responsible and valuable. Our Spiritual Father guides and disciplines us all the more because he loves us and knows what is best for us. We are his creation and he is developing his purpose in us.
Yes it may be difficult at times, but we must remember that He loves us and will not discipline or test us with more than we can take. Through our discipline we are drawn closer to our father in genuine subjection and submission. Though we might not like the process now we know that we will have the fruits of peace and righteousness because they have been promised to us.
Earthly fathers chasten and correct us now so that we will be found worthy in the present time, in the flesh. Our heavenly Father chastens us so that we will be found worthy not just in this life, but also into eternal life. Our chastening doesn’t just correct us, it builds us up and strengthens us for the purpose which God has called us. His purpose is for us to believe in His only Son Jesus. It is to believe that He was put to death for our sins. It is to believe that we have been made right with the Father through Him. It is to believe that we have been given new and eternal life that begins now and is acted out temporally and completed in eternity It is to listen and do what his son Jesus has taught us to do, to the glory of God the Father. Amen.
<em>Proverbs 3:11–12— “My son, despise not the chastening of the LORD; neither be weary of his correction: For whom the LORD loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth.”</em>