Summary: So we have Jesus as the Vine, God the Father as the Vinedresser, and us as the branches. Having made those distinctions, let me share with you the lessons I think we can learn from this passage.
A while back we began a study of the times throughout the Gospel of John where Jesus said, “I am…” I am the Light of the world. I am the Door. I am the Good Shepherd. I am the Bread of Life. Tonight I want us to close out this series by looking at another one of these statements that Jesus makes found in John 15:1-8.
I want you to imagine with me that you are sitting at the bedside of your dying father. He’s still young by today’s standards, but the doctor has just told you that it will only be a matter of hours before his life will come to an end. And there you sit, dumbfounded, perplexed, confused. It wasn’t that long ago that you were enjoying his company in the family fishing boat. It was just a little while ago that you were laughing with him around the birthday cake. But now your laughter is replaced by tears. The end is near. It’s just a matter of time until there will be no more opportunity to fellowship with dad.
The silence is broken by your father’s frail voice bidding you to come closer. He has some things that He wants to tell you. He’s waited a long time to say anything, but he can’t wait any longer. And so you draw closer to him and listen intently, knowing that you will never forget the words that are spoken now.
This is where we find the disciples in John 15. The previous two chapters have given us the details of the last supper. You know the story. The night before Passover Jesus and His disciples gather in an borrowed upper room to eat together. He chooses the bread to represent His body and the wine to represent His blood as He shares with His closest friends one more time the reality of His sacrifice. He makes the devastating pronouncement that one of them would betray Him and Peter would deny Him. He takes upon Himself the job of a servant as He washes the feet of His disciples. The end is coming.
No doubt the disciples are sitting there perplexed and dumbfounded as they listen to the words of Jesus. No doubt their hopes for an earthly kingdom are being dashed on the rocks. No doubt they become dejected and saddened as they realize that the time for them to be with Jesus is short. Then Jesus says, “Arise, let us go from here.” And they begin making their way from that upper room to the garden of Gethsemane. They pass through the hustling and bustling streets. They pass through the city gates and they make their way through the ancient vineyards that stand in the shadow of the city of Jerusalem. And Jesus calls his loved ones to come in a little bit closer. He has something that He wants to share with them. And having a supreme ability for taking the common and making it supernatural, He holds a branch full of plump ripened grapes and begins to speak…
I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.
Here in one of Jesus’ final messages to His disciples before His death He says, “I am the Vine.” And I believe that there are at least three things that we can take from this message and apply to our lives today. Let me share those with you quickly this evening.
I think first of all though I must make some distinctions. Jesus says, “I am the vine, my Father is the husbandman, or the vinedresser, and you are the branches.” Jesus is the Vine. Most of us, when we think of a vine, we think of the long, trailing limb that climbs along the trellis. But actually, the vine is the trunk that grows out of the ground. It is what the branches stem from. The Father is the Vinedresser. He is the one who owns the vineyard and the one who tends to it. We are the branches. In a vineyard the branches sprout from the vine and are tied to a trellis or propped up with sticks to keep air circulating and to keep the plants as open as possible to as much sunshine as possible. The branches are what produce the fruit. That’s where the grapes come from. So we have Jesus as the Vine, God the Father as the Vinedresser, and us as the branches. Having made those distinctions, let me share with you the lessons I think we can learn from this passage.