Summary: The true branch abides in the Vine. There are 'Judas branches' who only attach themselves for a time.
“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. 2 “Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. 3 “You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. 4 “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. 5 “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. 6 “If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned. 7 “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 “My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples. 9 “Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also 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 so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.”
We are coming now to a portion of the discourse that may be the most difficult and most frequently misunderstood words of Jesus in these chapters.
I think there is a tendency, especially within churches that do not teach or believe in the eternal security of the believer in Christ, to take the things Jesus says here as support for their belief that a Christian can either through neglect or sin lose their salvation. This cannot be the teaching of Jesus here and I hope to demonstrate to you today why it cannot.
So there are two points of focus we must keep sharply before us if we want to get on track and stay on track in these verses of our text. One of them is context. Keep the text in context. That is always the first rule that must be followed in studying a small portion or passage of Scripture.
The second point is Bible doctrine. What we say about these verses in this discourse of Jesus to His eleven disciples must line up with what we know of Bible doctrine or we will be derailed.
So let’s go into it, first reminding ourselves of the context, and talk about this title Jesus gives Himself in verse 1.
First of all then, let’s be reminded of what has happened. Jesus and the 12 have gathered in the Upper Room for their Passover meal. Jesus, the only one in the room who isn’t thinking about Himself only, washes the feet of His friends and gives them an example of the love they ought to have for one another.
Then during the meal He announces that one of them will betray Him, and after dipping in the sop with Judas Jesus tells him to go quickly and do his dirty work, and Judas leaves.
So now it is just Jesus and the eleven and the things He is saying in chapter 13 verse 31 through 16:33 are for the ears of true believers only.
I wanted to bring these few details back to your remembrance because the illustration Jesus now employs of the Vine and the branches is all said on the heels of Judas detaching himself once and for all from the True Vine; something I have to think was keenly on the mind of Jesus as He taught.
That’s the context; now let’s talk about this title.
THE TRUE VINE
Jesus calls Himself the ‘True Vine’. Now what does that mean? Does He compare Himself to someone or something that is a false vine? Well, in a way but not exclusively.
Throughout the Old Testament the nation of Israel is referred to as God’s vine. They were the channel, as the branches of a vine are a channel, through which God blessed the world. They were rooted in the earth and the earth benefited from the fruit that God brought through the nation.
Unfortunately, every time the metaphor of a vine is used of Israel it is in the context of being a fruitless, empty vine and God having to cut its branches, uproot the vine, always metaphorically having to bring judgment for her disobedience and faithlessness.
Listen to Isaiah 5:1-5
“Let me sing now for my well-beloved A song of my beloved concerning His vineyard. My well-beloved had a vineyard on a fertile hill. 2 He dug it all around, removed its stones, And planted it with the choicest vine. And He built a tower in the middle of it And also hewed out a wine vat in it; Then He expected it to produce good grapes, But it produced only worthless ones. 3 “And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem and men of Judah, Judge between Me and My vineyard. 4 “What more was there to do for My vineyard that I have not done in it? Why, when I expected it to produce good grapes did it produce worthless ones? 5 “So now let Me tell you what I am going to do to My vineyard: I will remove its hedge and it will be consumed; I will break down its wall and it will become trampled ground.’