Summary: This sermon looks at the relationship between Jesus, as the Vine, God as the gardener, us as the branches, and the fruit that the gardener desires to grow on the branches.
This is one of The great passages of the gospels. It’s also one of the last teaching sessions that Jesus, Rabbi and Messiah gives to his disciples. As we look at the passage today, I’d like us to consider 4 points:-
1. Jesus, as the Vine;
2. God the Father, as the Gardener;
3. Us, as branches.
4. The fruit
1. Jesus, as the Vine.
There are two main functions that a vine serves. The vine is
A. The Source of Life
B. Structure – It holds together the branches
A. The vine is the source of life
Jesus calls himself the true vine and he says…
Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
It is the vine, attached to the roots which draws in the nourishment for the plant, and brings life to each branch thus providing the nutrients and water necessary to produce fruit.
B. The vine provides the structure to the overall body.
The Bible talks about Jesus being the structure or head of the body, that is the church. He holds it together.
Paul writes to the Corinthians…
"The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ."
Colossians Ch 1 Jesus.. "is before all things, and in him all things hold together"
The vine provides structure for the branches & fruit.
2. God the Father, as the Gardener
You’ve heard of the children’s carton character Bob the Builder, well here we have God the Gardener!
God the Gardener cares and sustains the vine by doing things in order:-
A. He lifts up the branches.
v2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit… N.I.V In most other versions of the Bible we get a translation of… every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away.. which may provide a better understanding .
In the original Greek, the word translated “takes away” is the word “airo”. It has as many as four possible meanings, four different usages. It can mean
1. To lift up or pick up.
2. To lift up figuratively, as in lifting up
one’s eyes or one’s voice.
3. To lift up, with the thought of lifting up in
order to carry away.
4. Lastly, it can mean what many translators have
taken it to mean, that is, “to remove”.
James Montgomery Boice suggests that what is meant here by Jesus, when He uses airo, is not “to remove”, but rather, “to lift up”. This rendering emphasizes the care of the gardener.
A good reason to support this translation is in the sequence that Jesus gives here, which makes sense: first, the gardener lifts all of the
vines up. Then…
B. He prunes and cleans the branches.
He gets rid of the insects, the moss, the parasites that would threaten its development. He cuts away what is not helpful for growing.
God the Father prunes us from time to time, in order that we might grow better. Sometimes that pruning is painful. Indeed any vine will only produce good fruit if it is vigorously pruned and cleaned.
John Stott says...
“Jesus does not explain specifically what this pruning is in the passage. But we need not doubt that pain, sorrow, sickness, suffering, loss, bereavement, disappointment and frustrated ambition are all part of the pruning activity of God the gardener”
C. He throws away worthless parts.
v6 If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into fire and burned.
It could be argued that this verse suggests that those who are Christians, but who lapse into sin, will lose their salvation. But perhaps another interpretation which may align itself better with the teaching of the Bible, could instead refer to fruitfulness, of those works produced in the life of the abiding Christian, which do which don’t qualify as “good fruit”.
What is certain is that the good gardener will chop off and clear away that which is not for the good of the vine and its effectiveness at pro-
D. He gets the praise when the fruit is produced.
v8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit…
It is the Gardener who gets the credit when the fruit ripens and is useful. The branch doesn’t brag; it is the Gardener Who gets the praise.
3. Us, as branches
I’d like us to consider three aspects of us being branches:-
A. We have no life of our own.
B. Fruit production
C. Grapes are grown from the branches.