“Jacob came for a bride from his own people. He desired Rachel, but he did not get Rachel at first, but Leah. After he learned to love Leah as much as he did Rachel, he got Rachel as well. In the beginning Leah had all the babies, her womb was most fruitful. But then Rachel conceives. Israel shall be a fruitful vine. Jesus came for Israel. He wanted to marry Israel, but He did not get Israel. He ends up with the bride He did not desire at first, the Gentile church. After He learns to love the Gentile church, then He gets Israel. In the beginning, the church has all the babies. But in the end, Israel becomes a fruitful vine.” (Jacob Prasch).
What is the relationship between Israel and the Church? Does God have one ‘chosen people’ or two? What is the relationship between God and his people? Who is the fruitful vine?
These were the subjects addressed at a conference in Johannesburg, I attended earlier this month. It was sponsored by Messianic Good News, an organisation dedicated to take the good news of Jesus to Jewish people. It was a great encouragement to spend a week with Jews who love Jesus and who have a passion to make him known within the Jewish community. I hope we can build on this relationship and support their work in the future. Following our day with Chawkat Moucarry looking at Islam earlier in the year, and with Juge Ram on Hinduism and Sikhism yesterday, I hope that early next year we can arrange a teaching day on Judaism and learn how to share our faith with Jewish people.
Please turn with me to John 15 and let us examine the meaning of this image of the vine and the branches.
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.” (John 15:1-2)
Jesus makes three main assertions: God the Father is the Vineyard Owner. God the Son is the Vine. God’s People who remain and bear fruit are the Branches.