The True Vine

Gospel-of-John950x323Reflections from John 15:1-11

-Warren E. Berkley-

“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. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.

In the section of the gospel of John that begins with chapter 13 and ends with chapter 16, Jesus is speaking to the men who were chosen to serve as apostles.

First, that means some of this is specific to the apostolic work and the inspiration imparted to these men, through whom the truth would be revealed (see verses 14:26 as an example).

Second, when Jesus speaks of a person’s relationship to God and the obligations and life of every disciple of Christ, we apply that to our lives. For instance, “if you love me, you will keep my commandments.” Love that produces obedience wasn’t something limited to the apostles.

As we read and study John chapters 13-16, we must be careful to distinguish between what is specifically apostolic and what is generally about anyone’s relationship to God.

We come now to John chapter 15 and the above cited text. The opening verses are not about matters limited to the apostles. Everyone who comes to God through Jesus Christ needs the nourishment that is the subject of these verses.

  • There is only one source of nourishment and life for the branches. Jesus said, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the Vinedresser.” {Jesus didn’t need to stop and explain this. His imagery was based on horticulture or viticulture commonly known among these men in that time.} Jesus followers (apostles or not) would be nourished by Him, the true Vine. There is no book, no preacher, group or religious empire able to provide the nourishment every disciple of Christ needs. There is only the one source, Jesus Christ. And mark that word “nothing.” Without Me, “you can do nothing.” In baptism, you attach yourself to the True Vine. As you stay connected to Him, you are nourished for good harvest and growth.
  • “Abide in Me.” If I understand that Jesus is the only source of nourishment, I will want to abide in Him. Not just claim He is my nourishment but receive that nourishment by abiding in Him. As I believe in Him and follow His instruction, I am abiding in the Vine. That’s relationship, based on trust that produces fruit. The call of the text is not limited to apostles. And the call of the text is, not only to become attached to the True Vine, but to say there: “abide.”
  • Fruit bearing. When Jesus used these agricultural images – when He spoke of seed sown in soil, etc., there was always an end product: Harvest; Fruit bearing. But this is generic. What are the specifics of this harvest. Gal. 5:22,23. The fruit is “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, self-control; against such there is no law.” Not just the apostles. Every disciples of Christ should be “bearing fruit in every good work,” (Col. 1:10).
  • Many today back away from this word. Jesus didn’t hesitate to demand obedience. “Whoever does what is true comes to the light,” (Jno. 3:21). “Whoever does not obey the Son shall not see light,” (Jno. 3:36). “If you love Me, you will keep my commandments.” So, my initial attachment to the True Vine is in obedience in repentance and baptism. My continued attachment is surrendering to His will in obedience, abiding there day by day.
  • “Every branch that does not bear fruit, he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit, he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.” Non-bearing branches are taken away. Fruit-bearing branches are tended to with care; pruned so that they bear more fruit.

What a simple way to consider relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Have you attached your life to Him? Are you abiding in Him?

-My Podcasts on the gospel of John, Click Here.

 

 

2 thoughts on “The True Vine

  1. Thank you Warren. We cannot hear these words enough. To focus on or connection/relationship with Christ. I appreciate your efforts in producing these blogs.

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  2. Thank you for your efforts with this blog Warren. We (I) cannot hear these words enough…to focus on or relationship with Christ. The end of verse 5…wow….nothing…. such a resounding proclamation. I am both uplifted and convicted at the same time.

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