Branches In the Lord’s Vineyard

Text – JOHN 15:1--11  


Living in a land with no rainy season and only a brief month when any rain falls at all, the people prayed for and then thanked God for the morning dew which often provided the only real source of moisture for their grape plants growing along the otherwise bone-dry ground. It took great care to produce this cherished crop – but it was worth it. No plant was more cherished in Judea than the grape – because every other part of the plant could be used in so many essential ways.


That night in the upper room, Jesus, describing His relationship with us, said "I am The True Vine”.  The vine is the plant.  In our relationship with Jesus, He is  The True Vine - The True Vine through Whom all life comes.

Jesus describes our role in the relationship God came to earth as the vulnerable flesh and blood Christ to establish with us.  When Jesus says "I am The True Vine”, He says He is everything.  He did not come to make us vines – Jesus is The True Vine and we are what The True Vine produces – “the branches”.

Jesus said, “I am the Vine, you are the branches” upon which the life of the grape plant is most clearly visible and upon which the fruit appears — but only if the branch remains firmly attached to the Vine.

As The True Vine of the precious grape plant, Jesus, obviously, is talking about life. A vine is a living thing - a plant created and brought to life and sustained in life by God. The living vine carries nourishment and seeds of life to the branches which cling to the vine for that nourishment and for life itself.  The vine carries the life to the branches.  Without the vine, there is no life for the branches. Jesus says, "I am The Vine, you are the branches." 


In this abandoned field only a watchtower stood – there were no longer any  grapes to guard. As I looked at this tragic sight, I thought how much more tragic is the human life that does not grow in Christ?

Jesus said, "Every branch of Mine that bears no fruit God removes, and every branch that does bear fruit God prunes."  The more we use the life and the faith God has given us, the more God increases and strengthens our life and faith.  The more we do in God's Name, the more God enables us to do. The branch that accepts no nourishment from The True Vine and bears no fruit eventually wilts and falls from The Vine -- falls from the life which only comes through The True Vine.      God prunes away the things that lead to sin and death in our lives.

God comes among us as the vulnerable flesh and blood Christ - The True Vine Who brings nourishment and life to the branches.  



Fourth Sunday In Season of Lent

March 31, 2019

Dr. Kurt Borows 

Pastor, Resurrection Lutheran Church, Catawba Island, Port Clinton, Ohio



Text -- JOHN 9:1--41



"Just as I am, without one plea,

but that Thy Blood was shed for me,

and that Thou bidd'st me come to Thee,

O Lamb of God, I come, I come.”

Last Sunday, that beloved hymn sprung to life as we saw Jesus bring living water and new temporal and eternal life to a woman scorned by every member of her society – and we remembered how we ourselves received that living water of Holy Baptism which only Jesus Christ can give -- and thereafter have been regularly strengthened by His Body and His Blood whenever we commune together with Jesus.  

In our text this morning, we see Jesus bring His living water of healing to remind us and a man born blind of God’s amazing Grace.


"We once worshiped the sun.  

Now we look to God for all things."  

On a Sabbath day in October, Jesus and His disciples came to the Temple to celebrate Judea's most joyous, hope-filled festival -- the Succoth Festival.

Each of the eight Succoth mornings, as the people rose from their few hours of sleep in their succoth tents, they gathered west of the Mount of Olives to watch the sun rise -- something like our own Easter sunrise services. As the sun rose, the sound of the shofar horn echoed from the temple and the people shouted, "We once worshiped the sun.  Now we look to God for all things."  The people celebrated the Life and the Enlightenment only God Himself can and does give.


"Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”

Beneath the huge steps leading into the Temple complex, Jesus and His disciples were greeted by a sight which contrasted dramatically with the joy and hope so evident in the Succoth celebration of Life and Enlightenment. They saw a man blind from birth.

The disciples asked Jesus, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” There must be a reason why a seemingly innocent person suffers. 

Jesus answered, "It was not that this man sinned, or his parents.”     God lovingly created a world that was perfect in every way - a world in which every human being was perfect spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and physically - a world in which everyone lived in perfect harmony with God and within themselves and even with their environment.

Through Adam and Eve, sin came into the world and with sin came death.  The wages of sin is death (ROMANS 6:23a). With death comes its unavoidable companions - illness, injury, fatigue, stress, tension - and a man blind from birth.   In the perfect world God created, none of this existed.  In our world of fallen humanity, we all suffer together.

But as Jesus points out, God is not balancing the books here and now -- so much adversity for so much sin.  This man's blindness is not directly related to any specific sin committed by this man or his parents. 

But Jesus says that this man's suffering is about to be put to good purpose by God. An ironic intrusion on the day's joy and hopefulness was about to  became the day's most dramatic Sign of Hope and Enlightenment. Jesus said “I must work the works of Him Who sent Me, while it is day; night comes, when no one can work.  As long as I am in the world, I am The Light of the world." While visibly in the world, with the same power Jesus uses to heal physical blindness, Jesus' suffering and death on the cross will pay the price for our sin and alienation from God. His forgiveness will wash away our sins and guilt and His resurrection will assure us of eternal life with Him.  


As He spoke, Jesus spat on the ground and made clay of the spittle and anointed the man's eyes with the clay, saying to him, "Go, wash in the Pool of Siloam."

Jesus put mud on a blind man's eyes and sent him to wash in the Pool of Siloam which was playing a dramatic symbolic role in the Succoth Festival. From the pool, the priests led the people with their pitchers of water up to  the temple where the water was poured onto the altar to celebrate God’s gift of water and ability to make even the desert bloom.  

The blind man went and washed in the Pool of Siloam as Jesus had commanded and he came back seeing.  It was an act of faith when this blind man obeyed Jesus' instructions.  It was an act of Divine Power and Love when Jesus enabled him, for the first time in his life, to see.  Jesus turned on the lights for a man who physically had been in the dark all his life.

But there was a far greater miracle taking place than the healing of a man physically blind from birth.  With this sign, Jesus revealed far more of Himself than as a physical miracle worker. Jesus asked the man, "Do you believe in The Son of Man?" – the Name everyone knew referred to The Christ – and only to The Christ. 

The man answered, "And Who is He, Sir, that I may believe in Him?" Jesus said to him, "You have seen Him, and It is He Who speaks to you." The man said, "Lord, I believe"; and fell down and worshiped Jesus.

Jesus Who gave the blind man a view of the physical world which he had previously only imagined came to give all of us a view of life as God created us to live it.  God came as The vulnerable flesh and blood Christ, walked the earth, healed and helped, suffered and died, was buried and rose -- for no other reason than to enlighten us about the Love and faithful life-giving Power of God and to bring us back into eternal communion with God.


"We once worshiped the sun.  

Now we look to God for all things."  

As the Succoth pilgrims watched the sun rise over the Mount of Olives and declared, "We once worshiped the sun.  Now we look to God for all things", The true Light of the world was in the Temple area bringing the light of physical sight to a man blind from birth and reminding a formerly physically blind man, The Lord’s first disciples and us of the greater miracle of His amazing Grace.

"Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,

that saves a wretch like me!

I once was lost, but now am found;

was blind, but now I see."



Third Sunday In Lent

March 24, 2019

Dr. Kurt Borows

Pastor, Resurrection Lutheran Church, Catawba Island, Port Clinton, Ohio


“Who Is The Real High Priest?”


Text - JOHN 2:13—22


On this First Sunday of the Season of Lent we see Jesus and His disciples joining the people of Capernaum on a pilgrimage. As their journey ends, we discover  Who The Real High Priest is and to Whom does God’s Church belong?

Passover - the most important holy days - of the Judeans   was at hand and Jesus went up to Jerusalem – beginning with an inspiring walk from Capernaum to the east side of the Mount of Olives with His neighbors. Traveling together in groups, they sang Psalms befitting the season, spoke of dreams being fulfilled by their pilgrimage to Jerusalem and asked questions of the Rabbi. At the top of the Mount, they drank in the splendor of the temple across the valley.

Jesus, His disciples and neighbors went down the west slope and across the Kidron Valley moving ever closer to the huge stone steps that would take them to the portico entrances. And there the mood that had been so spiritual and uplifting changed abruptly.


Appearing more like entrances to a Cleveland Indians game than the entryway to the holiest spot on earth, their path was cluttered with merchants at makeshift tables or carrying their wares in baskets - miniature temple models as reminders of this visit to the holy city – prayer shawls with temple labels – the newest spices and incense for sale in Jerusalem before becoming available elsewhere.  Today we would call it a tourist trap.  It was.

Lining the valley, there was a score of pagan temples offering miracle cures for all manner of illnesses to pilgrims willing to test a little pagan remedy for their ills making the proper contribution. 


In the temple, Jesus found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers at their business. There was wall to wall livestock for sale. All purchases had to be paid with temple currency and the temple agents at their tables set the exchange rate for each of the world’s currencies and their commission as well.   

The sellers of souvenirs, prayer shawls and spices were by law restricted to the valley below and the pagan miracle cure priests were in their own temples nearby – all replaced by the temple officials’ cadre of merchants and money changers. It was the sounds, the smells and the refuse of a farmer’s livestock sale in the narthex of a cathedral in the midst of moneychangers seeking their piece of the action. Animal smells permeated the air and the noise level in the portico was deafening. What Jesus saw and heard in God’s magnificent temple broke His heart.


And making a whip of cords, Jesus drove them all, with sheep and oxen, out of the temple, and He poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables.  

Jesus took the cords being used to tether the larger animals and braided them into a whip with which He herded the livestock out of the porticoes.  Then He threw over the tables of the money-changers – scattering the coins in every direction.  And He told those who sold the pigeons, “Take these things away; You shall not make My Father’s House a house of trade.”

In the magnificent temple built to be the holiest place on earth, the sound God sought to hear was the sound of His Word being proclaimed, of Psalms and hymns being sung, of praise and thanksgiving in prayers and creeds.  The fragrance God most cherishes is the incense of prayer.  The sight God cherishes is the joyful expression on the faces of people celebrating the wonderful relationship God has given each of us.

The temple merchants challenged Jesus, “What sign do You have for doing this?”  How do you claim this Moral Authority? We are part of the organization that runs this place and are authorized to conduct this business by the high priest himself – by the CEO of the temple.  Who are You to interfere in our work? 

Jesus attacked an obvious abuse  in the practices of  temple leaders – but Jesus – in His words and actions – is talking about something as basic as “Who does the temple belong to? What is The Church?”  


“Destroy This Temple, and in three days I will raise It up.”

Jesus answered them, “Destroy This Temple, and in three days I will raise It up.”  The Judeans then said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?” Jesus knew the temple authorities did not understand – they rarely did.  

A temple is “a place that is occupied by God where people worship Him”. That certainly would include the Jerusalem temple and other modern and ancient edifices throughout the world. And certainly the body of every believer in Jesus Christ is “a place that is occupied by God where people worship Him”. The ultimate Temple - the One Jesus was speaking of - is Jesus Christ Himself. 

God is everywhere – no place could possibly exist without the Presence of God – but nowhere is the Presence of God more meaningful to our own relationship with God than in Jesus Christ – God as The vulnerable flesh and blood Christ is the ultimate place occupied by God. Jesus is God’s Ultimate Temple.

Jesus said, “Destroy This Temple, and in three days I will raise It Up.” On the cross as The Lamb of God, Jesus is The Perfect Sacrifice for our sins and alienation from God. As Jesus breathed His last, the veil between the Holy and the Holy of Holies where only the high priest could enter and only on the Day of Atonement was ripped open from the top down. On the cross, Jesus is The Ultimate High Priest offering the only Possible Sacrifice for our Salvation.   

When therefore Jesus was raised from the dead, His disciples remembered that He had said this and they believed The Scripture and The Word Jesus had spoken.   

At no time in my half a century as a Christian pastor have I seen groups like the ones today that seek – and too often receive – the endorsement of Christ’s Church for their own sinful behavior. “Tourist trap” theologies seeking converts by promoting sinful and faithless lifestyles - regardless of what God’s Word says - offer no salvation.  Truth cannot be traded for politically correct falsehood.

On the cross, all of the world’s evil was unleashed upon The Christ, The Son of The Living God and The Temple of His Body was destroyed – but in three days Jesus rose from the dead and raised The Temple that is His Body with the proclamation of Victory for us all.  In 70A.D. the temple in Jerusalem was totally destroyed and the high priest and other temple priests were no more and the ritual sacrifices were no more. Jesus The Ultimate High Priest had offered Himself as God’s Perfect Sacrifice. No other is needed or ever will be.



First Sunday In Lent

March 10, 2019

Dr. Kurt Borows

Pastor, Resurrection Lutheran Church, Catawba Island, Port Clinton, Ohio



Text -- JOHN 4:5--26



In Holy Land villages, each morning before the sun has much chance to bake the earth and each evening as the sun begins to set, the women come to the village well to get the family’s supply of water and to take part in their most basic daily social event. 


Jesus left Judea and departed again to Galilee. But He needed to go through Samaria. – Though the route is far shorter, Judeans traveling to Galilee only pass through Samaria in the summer when the wilderness on the alternate route is too hot to enter. 

Jesus therefore, being wearied with His journey, sat thus on the well. The sunrise to noon walk along dusty, stone-filled roads under a sun which by late morning had pushed the temperature to over ninety degrees had taken its toll on Jesus and so He crouched on the ground by Jacob's well. 


It was about the sixth hour and there came a woman of Samaria to draw water. The very fact that this woman came to the well at high noon when the sun was at its hottest and no other village women would be there tells us something about her standing in the community.  She was a shunned outcast who knew better than to come to the well when the "respectable" women came.

The Samaritan woman didn’t speak to the Judean Man. The hatred which existed between His people and hers was at least as intense as the animosity which exists today between Israelis and Palestinians.  It was unthinkable for a Judean and a Samaritan to talk to each other or drink from the same leather bucket or even from the same well.   

Furthermore, in the Holy Land villages to this day, there are rigid restrictions against unrelated men and women talking to each other in public. I have seen older women throw stones at male tourists asking directions from younger women at village wells.  

It was Jesus Who spoke - "Give Me a drink." 

The Samaritan woman said to Jesus, "How is it that You, a Judean, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?  Judeans have no dealings with Samaritans."

Jesus answered her, "If you knew The Gift of God, and Who it is that is saying to you, 'Give Me a drink', you would have asked Him and He would have given you living water."

I guess all water is living in the sense that it gives and sustains life.  We cannot live without water. Water obviously also cleanses.  Can't you just picture Jesus having that drink and then using a little of that water to pour over His head, face, and feet to cleanse and invigorate.

The woman's response to Jesus is what we would expect it to be-- "Sir, You have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep; where do You get that Living Water?”  

To get water from most Holy Land wells, you had to roll away the stone used to keep small animals and some of the dust out of the well and then lower a leather bucket to the water below.  In this dry land, it takes a long rope to reach the water.  Jesus did not have a long rope - or even a short rope - or a leather bucket.  Jesus crouched by the well - without a bucket - in a land of people who, without knowing Him, nevertheless hated Him.

Jesus said to her, "Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again …" The women of Sychar will come for their evening supply of water as the sun sets this evening and for the day's supply when the sun rises in the morning.  And this woman plans to come again tomorrow at noon.  "… but whoever drinks of the water that I will give will never thirst: the water that I give will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life."

The woman said to Him, "Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst, nor come here to draw water. I want some of that water so I'll never have to feel the discomfort of thirst again - so I'll never again have to walk alone to this well in the noon heat or have people stare as I carry my water jugs through the village when only an outcast would." 

Well, Jesus is even more concerned about our physical needs than we are - He loves us that much - but Jesus has an even greater concern for those things which are far more essential to our lives - He loves us that much. 

Jesus said to the woman, "Go call your husband and come back."

The woman answered Him, "I have no husband."

Jesus said to her, "You are right in saying 'I have no husband'; for you have had five husbands, and he whom you now have is not your husband; this you said truly."

Jesus' words were blunt … but not hurtful.  Rather they were the words of Someone Who truly cared and lovingly understood.  Jesus' words were the living water of understanding and truth which cleanses the soul and gives all of life a fresh clean beginning.

She knew Jesus' lifestyle had been radically different from her own, but she knew it did not matter to her - or to Jesus Who was able to speak directly to her hurts and pain - to her sins and the guilt she carried for them.  He was speaking to her as no one else had - or could.  He spoke with a love which she had never experienced before. 


The woman said to Jesus, "I know that The Messiah is coming (He Who is called Christ); when He comes, He will show us all things."

Jesus said to her, "I Who speak to you am He.”  And she knew with certainty He is.

Not far from where Jesus met the Samaritan woman, there is a beautiful park with a spring and picnic area. Each summer John the Baptist preached and baptized people there in Einon Spring as he prepared the way for Jesus coming to Samaria -- even as he had prepared the way in the Jordan River for Jesus coming to Judea.  

Baptism - Jesus' living water - washes away the sins which separate us from God and from each other – gives us eternal life and eternal relationship with God and fellow believers in Christ - and provides us with a new view of ourselves as beloved redeemed children of God. 

"Just as I am, without one plea,

but that Thy Blood was shed for me,

and that Thou bidd'st me come to Thee,

O Lamb of God, I come, I come.”

As we came to receive that living water of Holy Baptism which only Jesus Christ can give -- and thereafter to be regularly strengthened by His Body and His Blood as in just a few moments we commune together with Jesus.



March 17, 2019

Second Sunday In Lent

Dr. Kurt Borows 

Pastor, Resurrection Lutheran Church, Catawba Island, Port Clinton, Ohio



Text – LUKE 9:28—36


In his book, FAITH, HOPE, AND HILARITY, Dick Van Dyke talks about the confusion a preacher’s little boy had over some of the teachings of the church.  After hearing his father preach on “Justification”, “Sanctification”, and all the other “ations”, he was ready when his Sunday school teacher asked if anyone knew what “procrastination” means.  “I’m not sure what it means,” he quickly replied, “but I know our church believes in it.”

This morning, we have yet another of those “ations” to talk about — “Transfiguration” — “The Transfiguration Of Our Lord Jesus Christ".

The disciples had been with Jesus long enough to know He is The Christ – The One anointed by God to bring about our Salvation.  Peter had confessed that Truth barely a week before at Caesarea Philippi.  Still as Jesus told him, Peter needed the enlightenment of The Holy Spirit to confess that Truth in pagan Caesarea Philippi.

By the enlightenment of The Holy Spirit, Peter was also able to confess that Jesus is The Son of the Living God – true God and true Man. Peter had a little more trouble with that concept – as did the other disciples as well.


Now eight days later, Jesus took with Him Peter and John and James and went up into the mountain to pray. Jesus constantly went some place to pray.  Every major event in Jesus' life as the flesh and blood human Christ was preceded by His going somewhere to pray. This time Jesus took with Him Peter and John and James. 


I found Mt. Tabor to be a wonderful place to pray and study God’s Word. Located five miles east of Nazareth and twelve miles west of the southern end of the Sea of Galilee, I could experience God’s Living Word among all those wonderful signs of God’s bountiful Creation in the nature preserve while viewing the sites below where the history of the loving and faithful relationship God has established with us have taken place.  

I envy Peter, James, and John who actually spent their time there with Jesus Himself. What a glorious opportunity!  Well, actually they slept.  Now Peter and those with him were heavy with sleep. 


And as Jesus was praying, the appearance of His countenance was altered and His appearance became dazzling white.  Since Jesus’ birth in that Bethlehem cave-stable, people had seen The Man Jesus — truly a human being like every one of us.  Now, on Mt. Tabor, for the only time in those 33 years from birth to crucifixion, Jesus was seen as truly The Son of The Living God. The splendor and grandeur of Jesus’ appearance even extended to His clothes which became dazzling white beyond anything human eyes had seen before or since.

And behold, two men talked with Jesus - Moses and Elijah who appeared in glory and spoke of His departure, which He was to accomplish at Jerusalem. Talk about the opportunity to study God’s Word -  God’s great Lawgiver Moses and God’s great prophet Elijah — the Law and the Prophets who had provided the people of God with God’s Living Word and Truth —  appeared in their eternal heavenly glory to talk with Jesus about His departure, which He was to accomplish at Jerusalem —  talked with Him about His Mission to suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes up to and including His crucifixion and on His third day in the tomb being raised. What a conversation that must have been for those disciples who had such trouble accepting Jesus’ Mission on earth!

While Jesus prayed, as He was transfigured, as He began to talk with Moses and Elijah, Peter and those who were with him were sound asleep.

How much we people miss if we are spiritually asleep when we should be praying or seeking to explore God’s Word and Truth.

How wonderful that God cares so much about us, loves us so much, and is so faithful to us that God keeps coming to us — that God constantly seeks to awaken us from our spiritual slumber.

Peter, James, and John slept — until God graciously awakened them — and when they wakened they saw Jesus’ glory and Moses and Elijah with Him.

They saw for themselves that Mary’s human Son Jesus The Christ is truly The Son of The Living God — true Man, yes, but also true God.

In order for God to conquer our sin, guilt, and death and restore our eternal life and relationship with God, God had to accomplish what only God could but God also had to truly be The human Christ Who lived a perfect human life and, as the Perfect High Priest, offered that life as The Perfect Human Sacrifice - God Who came as the human Christ to suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed for our eternal Salvation - through suffering and death that could only happen to a human being.  He had to be True God through all eternity and True Man born of the virgin Mary.

The sights they were seeing - the words they were hearing — it all left James and John totally speechless.  What would you or I have said?

Peter could not stand to be speechless. When a situation left others speechless, Peter always said something.  


Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is well that we are here.” Why would we want to go to Jerusalem to see You betrayed, suffering and being killed?  Why not just stay here? Let us make three booths, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah,” Well, Peter had to say something. 

Do we live our faith in Christ to the fullest — in ways which impact on every aspect of our lives — or do we, like Peter on Mt. Tabor, want the comfort of the booths — permanent theatre pews from which to watch the on-going drama of Christ’s work on earth … a compartmentalized life with a Sunday booth in the shade of Christian worship and nary a thought of our faith impacting upon life outside in the world?   


Jesus didn't answer Peter's suggestion about the booths. As Peter spoke, a cloud came and overshadowed them. The disciples were afraid as they entered the cloud.  Now anyone who has spent any time on a mountain knows how a person can get caught up in the clouds — but there in the midst of the Transfiguration and everything else that was happening, there was something otherworldly about this cloud.  

And a Voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My Son, My Chosen; listen to Him!”  My Son – true God coming to dwell among people as never before - My Chosen – true Human Christ-Savior of all humanity. That’s the Truth that makes us truly free spoken by God Himself.

As God The Father had done at Jesus’ Baptism, He again testified to Jesus’ true Identity as God Himself among us as The vulnerable flesh and blood Christ.  And this time God added the admonition, “Listen to Him!  Listen to what He tells you about The Divine Plan of Salvation — Listen when He tells you The Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes and be killed (crucified), and on the third day be raised.  Listen to Him!”

And when the Voice (Which they knew beyond any doubt to be God’s Own Voice) had spoken, Jesus was found alone.  Peter, James, and John kept silence and told no one in those days (before Jesus’ crucifixion and Resurrection) anything of what they had seen. 

What powerful testimony we heard from in our Second Lesson from Peter himself where he reported, “... we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the Power and Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we ourselves were eyewitnesses of His Majesty.  For He received from God the Father Honor and Glory when such a Voice came to Him from the Excellent Glory: ‘This is My beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased.” (2 PETER 1:16-21) True God through all eternity – true Man born of the virgin Mary – guaranteeing our eternal relationship with God. 




March 3, 2019

Dr. Kurt Borows

Pastor, Resurrection Lutheran Church, Catawba Island, Port Clinton, Ohio

Bible Verse of the Day

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