“I am the vine, you are the branches….” John 15
Yak-kwee Tan acknowledges that as a scholar, her biblical literacy is influenced by no less than three competing currents. As a former Confucian converted to Christianity, she has been influenced by the western schools where she received her education. As a woman, the global influence of feminism has infiltrated her cultural background of the classic Chinese female. Her Chinese cultural and familial lens continues to impact her close reading of classic biblical texts. This, I think, is an honest way to look at how we read texts, especially religious texts.
Tan points out that acknowledging the currents of influence in our reading and understanding is essential when we attempt to break the code of biblical texts. As such, in keeping with the portrait of Jesus as a person who intended to bring the essential politics of heaven into and alongside the politics and poetics of the kingdom of earth, this passage is intended to help J’s disciples understand their role as living in two worlds.
Since Jesus has already represented himself as the Son who came to bridge the gap between heaven and earth, it is only sensible to extend his invitation to his followers to do the same. No longer does a structural temple, a political structure or a dogma suffice for bringing heaven to earth. It clearly is intended for followers to exemplify and exude the quality of heaven, that is love.
Love brought the Son to this physical existence. Love compelled Jesus to conquer death. Love infused the earth with life. It remains our place to carry on this vital, essential blend of human stewardship and godly sacrifice.