United With The Vine

Torah Portion: Shemot (Exodus 1:1-6:1)
Gospel Reading: John 15:5
Commentary by: Sonja Langford

“Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and lead the people of Israel out of Egypt?” This loaded question sits squarely in the center of Sh’mot, the first parashah of the book of Exodus. God called Moses from his pastoral duties and gave him the starring role as central protagonist and hero in the fulfillment of a promise made over 400 years prior. But the thing is, Moses had no desire to be the hero. Through a running dialogue of 28 verses spanning two chapters, he challenges God’s calling five times before God’s anger is provoked, and Moses seemingly agrees to accept it. And thus begins one of the most powerful relationships recorded in the scriptures between God and a man.

After Moses returns to his homeland and gives a rather half hearted address to Pharaoh with a directive that borders more along the lines of a suggestion than a striking command from the Lord, the antagonist strikes back with orders of more hard labor and poorer working conditions for the people he was supposed to be saving.

Our hero almost triumphantly returns to God, “What was the value in sending me? For ever since I came to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has dealt terribly with this people! And you haven’t rescued your people at all!” (excerpted from Exodus 5:22)

But then in one of the most moving passages of the early book of Exodus, God tells Moses that for the fulfillment of God’s promise to work, He will have to work not through Moses’ own might or power, but through His own. He says, “I will free you, rescue you, redeem you, take you as my people, bring you into the land, and give it to you.” (paraphrased from Exodus 6:6-8) Once Moses chose to believe the actual process of redemption was merely passive action on his behalf, merely speaking God’s words, and channeling His power then God was able to work through him.

The theme of dependence on God continues in John 15. Yeshua speaking to his disciples says, “I am the vine and you are the branches. Those who stay united with me, and I with them, are the ones who bear much fruit; because apart from me you can't do a thing.”

As a young person in her twenties, I struggled with my calling. I had personal desires and plans, but they never panned out. But once I surrendered to God’s calling for my life, once I allowed him to work through me, once I realized that “without [Him] you can do nothing” (John 15:5), I was freed. Does it mean I never struggle? No. Does it mean there are no antagonists? Absolutely not. But it does mean that I don’t struggle alone. It does mean that my antagonists aren’t just fighting against me.

And that brings me abundant comfort and great peace. I am a part of the vine; my Savior strengthens me when I stay united with Him. He doesn’t expect me to walk out my calling by myself, without help, or without the qualities necessary to accomplish it. In spite of my weaknesses, my failures, and my insecurities, He will be there with me, moving mountains through my faith, rejoicing with me when I succeed, and comforting me when I fall to my knees. The same God who Moses walked with walks with me. He walks with you. He wants to deliver you, to rescue you, to redeem you, and to bring you into the greatest fulfillment of His promises, if only we stay united with him.