Summary: Jesus used symbolism of the Grape Vine to picture our relationship with God.
I AM series #7
I AM the Vine
Scripture Reading: John 15:5-8
This summer I’ve been preaching about the I AM statements that Jesus made. There are 7, and all of them are recorded in the Gospel of John. I learned something while doing this series. (Even when you’re in your 50’s there are still things to learn.)
All of the I AM statement were connected with an event going on around Jesus. Jesus responded to the circumstances around him. He used every-day events as a jumping-off point for teachings about God. Let’s review the I AM statements, and you’ll see what I mean:
o In John 6 Jesus fed over 5,000 people. Right after that miracle --- He told them: I AM the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never Thirst. John 6:35
o Jesus and his Disciples were at the Temple to celebrate the Festival of Lights when Jesus announced, I AM the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life. John 8:12
o They were looking out over hills where shepherds herded their sheep when Jesus said: I AM the gate (for the sheep); whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture. John 10:9
o He went on to say, I AM the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. John 10:11
o Just before Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, he declared: I AM the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies. John 11:25
o At the Last Supper, Jesus warned his apostles about his coming arrest and death. The Apostles couldn’t understand what he meant. Finally, Thomas exclaimed: We don’t know where you’re going, Jesus! How can we possibly know the way? Jesus took that opportunity to teach them: I AM the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John 14:6
It’s clear that Jesus used every-day events as a springboard for teaching eternal truths. He was setting an example of what all of us are called to do. In the Old Testament, Moses told the Israelites how they were to pass God’s truths along to each new generation. He said: Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Deuteronomy 11:19
That’s the kind of teaching that works. We need to be ready for “teachable moments” that come while we’re going about our daily lives: sitting down to breakfast, walking (or more likely for us, driving) our children to school, putting the kids to bed at night. All of these daily events provide opportunities to teach about God. That’s the way Jesus taught. He was always alert to “teachable moments” when he could tie eternal truth to the events of the moment.
Jesus made his last recorded I AM statement after the Last Supper. It is likely that he and his men were walking from the Upper Room to the Garden where Jesus would be arrested. During that walk, they would have seen a prominent symbol that hung over the entrance of the Temple. The symbol was made of gold wire and beads, delicately twisted to look like a huge golden grape vine. Jesus may have pointed to that golden vine when he told his Apostles, I AM the true vine. John 15:1
Jesus was using a word-picture that was very familiar to his men. For one thing, grapes were central to Israel’s economy. The climate of Israel is ideal for growing healthy grapes. For another thing, the grapevine had always been a symbol of the nation of Israel. In fact, the symbol of the grapevine was on Israeli coins up until the time they were conquered by Rome.
In scripture, grapevines are used as three types of symbols, representing the past, present, and future.
· The Future Vine symbolizes the earth in the last days … ripe for God’s judgment of wrath. (Rev.14:14-20)
· The Present Vine is the Lord Jesus Christ.
Jesus said, I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man abides in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:5
1. ABIDE John 15:1-9
The operative word here is ABIDE. This word is used 11 times in 11 verses. We can see that Abiding is necessary to produce any fruit. WE can also see that NOT abiding means the branch will be useless. So, what does it mean to ABIDE in Christ? Jesus made it a little more specific when He said: If you abide in me and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be given you. John 15:7