Summary: Making His way toward the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus declared that He was the True Vine. Those abiding in Him would bear much fruit. Jesus took time to describe the significance of His position as the Vine and the great care afforded the branches.
The True Vine
John 15: 1-5
We have come to the last of the I Am statements recorded in John’s gospel. Along with the previous statement when Jesus declared He was the Way, the Truth, and the Life, these comments followed their intimate time within the Upper Room. Jesus and the disciples are at this moment making their way to the Garden of Gethsemane. In a very short time Jesus will be arrested and taken to stand before the high priest and Sanhedrin.
While we cannot know for certain, many scholars think Jesus and the disciples likely passed a vineyard as they made their way to Gethsemane. Seeing another moment to teach the disciples an eternal lesson, Jesus used the vineyard as an object lesson. I can imagine Jesus stopping beside a well-kept vine, full of promise for the coming harvest, as He spoke these words.
We are some two thousand years removed from the words Jesus spoke on that faithful night, and yet they remain as powerful today as they were then. There is eternal truth that we must consider and embrace as we consider these words. I want to discuss these eternal truths as we consider Jesus’ declaration of: The True Vine.
I. The Authenticity of the Vine (1) – I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Consider:
A. The Vine’s Character – I am the true vine. Jesus declared that He was the true vine. We must consider the context of this statement and the events that had recently taken place. Jesus had lived and ministered in and around Jerusalem for some three and a half years, revealing Himself as the Christ. He and the disciples were in the epicenter of religious life for the Jews. Israel had often been referred to in Scripture as a vine. The Jews were zealous in their adherence to the Law and felt as if they were doing what was required to be found acceptable to God. Jesus in essence declared to the disciples that the other approaches, and all who had come before Him were inadequate to secure acceptance to God. He alone was the True Vine, the sole means of salvation and reconciliation to God.
The world would have us believe that all religions are the same, that we all serve the same God, and we are all going to the same heaven – we are just heading that way on different paths. That may be popular philosophy, but it certainly isn’t consistent with the teaching of Jesus or biblical doctrine. Jesus is the True Vine. He alone is the source of salvation and reconciliation to God. If we are to be acceptable to the Father, having assurance of eternal life in heaven, we must abide in the Ture Vine!
B. The Vine’s Caretaker (1) – I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Jesus also declared that His Father was the husbandman, the gardener, the one who oversaw the vineyard. He had sent His only begotten Son as the True Vine to secure salvation for the entire vineyard. The Father watched over and cared for the well-being of the vineyard. He is involved in every aspect of the vineyard and cares for every detail of the vine.
Isn’t that a comforting thought? If you are in Christ, the Vine, you are part of the vineyard. The heavenly Father watches over and provides for the needs of the vineyard. We are kept by the Sovereign of the Ages!
II. The Attention to the Vineyard (2-3) – Jesus went on the describe the attentive detail given to the vineyard by the Gardner. He revealed this involved:
A. Pruning the Vine (2a) – Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away. First Jesus revealed the delicate care given to the branches that were not bearing fruit. Keep in mind, these branches are attached to the vine. They are responsible for bearing fruit and expected to do so. Jesus declared the Father “takes away” those branches that do not bear fruit. This does not refer to removing the entire branch, as some would assume. The root of this word has the idea of “lifting up or raising.” This makes great sense when we pause to consider it. Often branches grow too long and get encumbered in the dirt of the ground. The Gardner comes along and lifts those branches out of the dirt and filth, removing them from the hindrance, in order to promote fruit production. (I am thankful the Lord lovingly lifts me up at times!)
In the context of this passage, “taking away” literally has the idea of “pruning.” The Gardner does not remove the entire branch, but he prunes away the areas in the branch that have become diseased and are no longer productive. By removing the diseased portion of the branch, it allows the branch to heal and become stronger, thus becoming productive again. (We don’t enjoy the pruning process, but it is necessary at times. The Lord must tenderly remove those areas from our lives that hinder our production.)