The Trunk of the Human Tree

A Christ-centered, Trinitarian paraphrase of John 15:1-16:15

(15.1) I am the trunk of the human tree; all branches are connected to me.  My Papa is the gardener, and (2) he will never give up on this tree and just let it be fruitless and dead.  Instead, he faithfully chops off sick branchings before they infect others. When a branch bears fruit, he strips that branch of its sub-branches, to make it fruit even more. (3) My word has already cleared the sick branches off you. (4) I am as close to you as a trunk is to its branches.  I have re-arranged my life just to be with you, to include you in every aspect of my everyday life.  I have chosen to be alive with you.  Be alive with me. When a branch is disconnected from the trunk, it produces no fruit.  The same is true for you if you choose to not participate in the life I’m living with you. (5) I am the trunk, and you are the branches.  The Triune sap eternally flows in and out of me.  If you believe, allowing it to flow in and out of you, it will produce the fruit of the Spirit in you – love, joy, and peace. But if through disbelief you resist that flow, you will not produce anything. (6) There is a fire coming in this generation that will consume all the dead wood, the fruitless branches that want nothing to do with me. (7) But if you receive me and believe me, if you participate through faith in the life I’m living with you, you and I will ask Papa to produce fruit in you, and he will. (8) He LIVES for this – seeing you sharing in my life and producing lots and lots of delicious fruit.

(9) Papa has showered me with love, and I now shower that love upon you forever.  Period.  Stick that in your pipe and smoke it.  Take it seriously.  Dance with that truth, day in and day out. (10) Abide in it; let it determine your actions.  That’s what it means to participate in my life and to abide in my love.  That is what I do with Papa, believing and doing what he says, and enjoying the power of his love as it flows in and out of me. (11) I’ve told you all this in order to take my joy and fill you to overflowing with it.

(12) Here’s what I want you to do: Take the love/joy/peace I have given you, and give it to each other. (13) To give love is to give yourself, ALL of yourself, from birth to death and everything in between. (14) I have laid down my life for you, and I always will.  You lay down your lives for me as you accept and do what I say. I have been a friend to you, and you have become friends to me. (15) You are not my servants; servants don’t know what their master is doing.  No, you are my friends.  You know what I’m doing.  Everything I receive from Papa, I have given to you.  My knowing of him is now yours. (16) Not because you chose me, but because I chose you. I chose you to be carriers of the Triune blessing to the world.  I chose you to bear the fruit the world needs to eat, to bear Triune fruit whenever you join me in asking Papa for it. (17) I command you to love, because loving one another is what eternal Triune life is all about.

(18) If the System hates you, just remember it hated me first. (19) The System loves only what it owns, and since it can’t own you, it can’t stand you. (20) Remember: ‘The servant gets what the master gets.’  The powers-that-be want to chew me up and spit me out, and they will try to do the same with you.  They will accept you only when they accept me. (21) They will hate you because I sent you, and they hate me because they don’t know the one who sent me. (22) By coming and telling the truth, I have exposed their hidden disease. (23) Their hatred of me is the symptom that reveals their hatred of Papa. (24) Their sickness would have stayed hidden if I had not done what I have done.  But now they and everyone else see the truth – that they hate me and my Papa. (25) Their own scriptures foretell this: “They hated me for no reason.”

(26) I’ve told you before about the Guide, the Spirit of Truth who I will send to you from Papa.  When he comes, he will speak the truth about me and what I have done. (27) Because you have been with me this whole time, you will share in his speaking. You will tell what you have seen.  (16.1) I’m telling you this so you don’t fall off the wagon when things get hard. (2) They’re going to kick you out of their churches. When they kill you, they’ll think they’re doing Papa a favor. (3) They will do this because they don’t really know Papa or me.

(4) I’m telling you this so that when it happens, you’ll remember.  I didn’t tell you earlier, because you still had me with you in the normal way. (5) But now I am ascending to Papa’s right hand.  You haven’t yet asked “Where IS that, exactly?” (6) but I can see this is breaking your heart. (7) But believe me when I say this: My ascension will make things better for you.  For me to begin my new-and-improved mode of presence with you through the Spirit, it is necessary for me to end my current mode of presence.

(8) When I inject my Spirit into the world, he will contradict the core beliefs that make the System run. (9) The System functions on the assumption that problems are caused by rule-breaking.  My Spirit will prove that problems come from beliefs that do not fit with Reality. (10) The System functions on the assumption that righteousness is something achieved by a few heroic individuals who can climb the religious ladder all the way up to heaven, and to hell with all the losers who can’t quite manage it.  My Spirit will show that I, the Son of Man, have ascended to Papa’s right hand, and that I’ve brought the entire world with me.  On behalf of all, in my own body I have forged human righteousness — right relations between Papa, humanity, and the rest of creation. (11) The System functions on the assumption that the world will be saved by killing all the ‘bad people.’  My Spirit will show that the world will be saved only by destroying the dark power that works evil in the lives of all people.

(12) I have so many things I want to tell you, but you aren’t yet ready to handle them. (13) When my Spirit of Truth comes into you, he will tell you what you need to know when you’re ready to hear it.  Just like me, he will not speak on his own.  Instead, what he will do is include you in the eternal conversation between him and me and Papa. (14) He will continue my work by taking my abundant human life and putting it into YOU. (15) Everything is Papa’s.  Everything that’s his is mine. And the Spirit will take what is mine and give it to you.

[These paraphrases aim to provoke a fresh reading of Scripture by taking seriously the ancient twin mysteries of Trinity and Incarnation]

~ John Stonecypher

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