Marinades are skillfully employed in the kitchens of renowned chefs the world over (and in the backyards of millions of grill masters) to enhance flavors in their meals. Sometimes called brining or infusing, the myriad recipes, and all their variations, speak to their broad appeal. The process can take just an hour or, in some instances, a day or longer. (How uninspired life would be without sauerkraut and kimchi and lutefisk and haggis!) There are some breakfast dishes which can be assembled and refrigerated overnight, allowing the ingredients to absorb into one another before being baked to scrumptious perfection the following morning. Ah! Those tantalizing aromas! The goal in each case, whether savory or sweet, is to blend flavors for maximum effect, maximum enjoyment.
I think that’s what Jesus was getting at when he talked about being the Vine and the disciples being the branches. It was about the need to abide, to remain, to stay in one place with expectancy. The word carries with it a sense of intimacy, of drawing life up and out from the very roots of the vine to thrive and be extravagantly fruit-bearing. There is also the image of the disciples absorbing all the Kingdom ‘flavors’ of Jesus into their sin-weakened, flavor-impoverished, grace-needy, lives. “ . . . you must remain in life-union with me, as I remain in life-union with you. For as a branch severed from the vine will not bear fruit, so your life will be fruitless unless you live your life intimately joined to mine.” John 15:4, TPT. So, I guess what I’m hearing Jesus communicating is that being able to say we are aware of him, we’ve heard of him, even saying we believe in him, misses his main point. It’s like saying we have a fully stocked, alphabetically organized spice rack worthy of creating any marinade we could possibly want to prepare. And we’re content simply with the knowing that all the ingredients are close to hand. We don’t make use of them. It’s just somehow a comfort to know that they are available should we ever want them. I can almost hear Jesus saying: ‘My dear little children, my cherished beloved ones. Please, please hear my heart. My desire is that you be saturated, soaked, marinated in me, that you will no longer be seduced to seek a life outside of me, that you will luxuriate in my fragrance, my love, my grace, my peace. My desire is that you discover me to be more than enough. For that is who I AM.’ Let’s do some soaking tomorrow at 10 AM, 3 PM or 4 PM. PD