Summary: Jesus speaks to His disciples describing the "Vine" and "branches." We branches are conduits passing on to others God’s grace as it flows through us. If we stay connected to the vine, God’s Grace passes through us on the way to someone in need and they wi

How many folks here like to “savor the flavor” of a really good glass of wine? Wine is often associated with special events, and surely with fine meals. In fact, there has been quite a bit of evidence provided to show that a glass of red wine once a day is a heart healthy practice.

When you think of fine wines, if you’re so inclined to think of wine at all, you may at first think of France. The French have a long history of vintage winemaking and they have provided the names for most of the well-known wines whose names are familiar to us. For example, Champagne, Bordeaux, Chardonnay, Burgundy are all regions that provide the names to certain types of French wine that, in order to be authentic, must have originated in that region.

The stuff that ball players spray on each other after the World Series, for example, might be called champagne, but if the bottle came from anywhere other than a specific region in France, it’s just “sparkling wine.”

Now, while the French may seem to be the classic wine snobs, some more adventurous winemakers have lately been branching out, so to speak. Some French winemakers have left behind the conservative and highly regulated regions of their homeland and come to America’s more freewheeling wine country around another area quite well known in our country for it’s fine wines. The Napa, California, region because, as Philippe Melka puts it, “Here, you not only have a lot more options, but there is an excitement about trying new things.” Nicolas Morlet, who descends from a long line of champagne producers, agrees: “It is completely different here. We have the freedom to fully realize our passion, to push our limits with every vintage. We aren’t working under a classification made in 1855 or a constitution of grands crus (French for “great growth”).

Still, some things are absolute about winemaking. One foundational principle that applies to both Old World and New World wine is that great wine is always a reflection of a particular vineyard. Repeat: Great wine is always a reflection of a particular vineyard.

If you want to pick a good wine, in other words, you have to know the source.

It seems to me, and perhaps to you as well, if you stop to think about it, Jesus knew a little about wine himself. We often see him at parties in the gospels and it appears He knew exactly what kind of wine would blow the minds of the guests at the Cana wedding feast (John 2:1-12).

We should not be surprised then, that He used this metaphor of a vineyard to describe His relationship to his disciples — as we see here in this morning’s Scripture.

Jesus knew, even back then, the best way to tell what kind of product you were getting would be to look at the label and see from where in the world it came, in other words, the source. In this case, speaking with the disciples, the source isn’t a place but a person — Jesus himself.

Jesus is the Vine. Jesus begins by saying that he is the “true vine,” the source of growth and fruit-bearing, in a vineyard that is tended by the “Father.”

God is the Winemaker: The Creator God is thus the real winemaker, the one who tends the vineyard and assures its quality.

The vineyard has a long and storied history. The Bible uses the metaphor of the vineyard several times in the Old Testament to describe God’s relationship with Israel. In Isaiah 5:1-7, for example, God plants and tends a vineyard but it yields “wild grapes” or inferior fruit — a metaphor for the turning away from God and lack of faith of Israel and Judah. The Bible uses the same vineyard imagery in Jeremiah 2:21, Ezekiel 19:10-14, and Hosea 10:1. In each of these cases, however, Israel is the “vine” and the ultimate source of poor “fruit.” In the Old Testament, “fruitfulness” was another way of saying “faithfulness,” thus a lack of good fruit meant that God’s people had failed to be the true, nourishing vine that would strengthen God’s reputation in the world as the ultimate fine winemaker. Therefore, the winemaker saw the necessity to do some pruning and replacing, which is what the prophets saw the exile as being all about.

In the New Testament, we see God replant the vineyard with a new stock and that new vine, the “true vine,” is Jesus himself symbolizing the new Israel, God’s Chosen One, and the One through whom the whole world would be saved and blessed.

We understand the vine is the source for good fruit, yet there’s a vital link between the vine and its fruit.

The “branches” are thus the focus of Jesus’ teaching with his disciples. “I am the vine,” says Jesus to His followers, “you are the branches” (v. 5). Notice that the disciples of Jesus aren’t the “fruit,” the end product, but the conduit for the vine’s nourishment. The quality of the fruit thus depends on the branches’ connectedness to the vine itself

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