Tuesday, April 16, 2013

I am the true vine

I AM the true vine


Wild Grapes

“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.”
–––  John 15:1
I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. 
––– John 15:5

I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser.  Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.  Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.  I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.  –– John 15:1-5 
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This is the seventh of the "I AM" - "ego eimi"statements of Jesus found only in the book of John. Jesus is talking to His disciples and is continuing to tell them of His future plans.  He is preparing them for His eminent death. Jesus uses this allegory of the vine and the branches.  This message is at the very heart of the Farewell Discourse.  The Farewell Discourse is found in John, chapters 14-17. This message of the Vine, was given by Jesus to eleven of His disciples. Jesus spoke to them of these things after the conclusion of the Last Supper. Judas had left the group of twelve to prepare for his betrayal of Jesus. The discourse took place on the night before Christ's crucifixion.

"I am the true vine." This was a metaphor that was not new to the Jewish people.  In the Old Testament it was used to describe the relationship between God and Israel. Israel was the vine. This metaphor of the vineyard was a powerful symbol with roots reaching deep into the soil of the history of Israel.  No illustration would touch the Hebrew soul like the image of the vinedresser and his vineyard. God was the vine dresser and God's people were the vine.  God had originally planted Israel in the Promised Land so that would be a means of revealing His Word to the world.  Israel was to demonstrate and teach all nations about God's grace. Israel was supposed to thrive as a living example of  how obedience to God bears the fruit of righteousness. God promised to bless Israel as their relationship with God grew stronger. The vineyard illustrated God's special care for the nation of Israel. But Israel failed. The failure of Israel to produce fruit was because they did not abide in the lord.

You may want to read the "Parable of the Vineyard" in Isaiah 4:1-7  also Psalm 80  These Old Testament Scriptures tell of the wrath of God against of Israel.  God brought a vine out of Egypt and planted it the promise land.  God chose His people and out of them He made the nation of Israel.  He established, planted, watered, nurtured, and brought out of bondage the nation of Israel. He expected fruit, but instead He got wild grapes. So Israel became the corrupt, fruitless, false vine.  

“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.”   Jesus declared Himself as the "true vine." John 15:1  He indicated to the people that He was taking the place of Israel.   He was the vine and the Father was the caretaker of the vine.  The task of the vinedresser  is essential.  The vinedresser will train the branches. This is done by lifting sagging branches and tie them to a supporting trellis. He will also prune the branches cutting away the dead branches. The vine needs to be pruned to produce more and better fruit.  If the vine is not tended it will grow more leaves, but very little fruit.  Dead wood produces no fruit and is pruned away and useful only for burning. Dead wood is not a part of the vine and will not produce any fruit. It does not belong to the vine that is Christ. It is cut off and burned.

Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.  Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:3-5  Jesus reassured the disciples that they already clean. (Remember that Judas had left the group). The remaining disciples are part of the vine. Believers are eternally secure in the vine. Believers are clean. No branch that belongs to Christ can be removed from the vine.  Jesus also promised that abiding in the vine would inevitably lead to bearing fruit. No one who belongs to the vine will be totally fruitless. Believers are the branches. Non believers are not part of the vine. Branches that belong to Christ will bear fruit, and be pruned as necessary to increase their fruit. These words of Jesus were not describing how one becomes a Christian, but how one lives as a Christian after placing their trust in Him. These words are a message to those who are already believing Christians.

If you are an expert gardener of horticulturalist you may recognize a tree or vine by just its shape, bark or leaf.  For most it is not so easy to identify a tree by these clues. If there is fruit on the tree it is quite easily identified.  A tree with big luscious red apples hanging from the limbs is easily identified as an apple tree. Good fruit come from a well tended tree and strong tree. Christians should be recognizable by their fruit. If they abide in Christ they will flourish and produce fruit.  Others will recognize them as Christians by their fruit.

We are to focus on our relationship with Christ.  Abide in Him. Obey and love Christ. Christians often falsely assume that producing fruit is their duty and responsibility. They work long and hard to produce fruit. They focus on trying to bear fruit in gratitude for what Christ has done for them. They find that they fail at producing fruit. This leads them to working even harder to produce fruit. They try again, work harder, fail again. What a vicious cycle. Jesus tells us to abide with Him. Stick close to Him.  Stay in His word, talk with Him and worship Him. The followers of Jesus are to focus on Jesus. The fruit will come to the branches from nourishment of the Vine.

If you have trusted in Christ you are a branch of the Vine. You are chosen of God and absolutely nothing can pluck you out of His hand.  Your eternal destiny has been set.  Your production of fruit however, will depend on your abiding in Christ. Obey Him, love Him and glorify Him. Do this and you will produce fruit.  You will have joy.  You will know that whatever the circumstances you can be content in the protection and security of your Savior.


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