Summary: Abiding in Christ is our vital connection to eternal life.
The True Vine
I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.
In the 15th chapter of the Gospel of John a drama is unfolding in the form of a parable told by Jesus. A drama is unfolding in this passage, and indeed, in our lives. As in many good plays, the primary characters are identified at the beginning of the script. Jesus begins by giving us the identity of the players involved in this scenario.
(For those of you who wish to study this a little further, Isaiah 5 is a companion chapter to John 15. A small amount of comparison will reward you with a good deal of insight into the heart of God on this matter.)
Three Parties: ( 3 individuals involved)
...my Father is the gardener... v:1
The Gardener, or, if you have the KJV, the husbandman is God the Father. He is the care-taker of the vineyard. He is in charge of the garden. It’s His crop and He takes responsibility for the outcome. He tends His garden. He chooses a fertile location, clears the soil, and plants only the best vines. Then He builds a watchtower and waits for the harvest.
...I am the true vine... v:1, 5
The second member of the cast is Jesus Himself. He is the Vine. What is meant here is the trunk of the vine. The tree-like portion of the vine that is rooted in the soil. It is the life-source of the rest of the vine. Uproot or damage this part of the plant and it spells death for the entire plant.
...you are the branches... v:5
The third and final character revealed in this drama is the branch. I should actually say, more correctly, the rest of the cast of characters are the branches. In this parable every one of us are participants whether we wish to be or not. We are all branches. That much is predetermined. The only two things yet undetermined are (1) whether we are fruitful or unproductive, and (2) what will be our fate.
Three Parts: (3 components)
The Savior is the Source. The Source of life, salvation and the Supply of whatever nutrients are needed to produce "fruit."
The saints and the sinners. The same Source of supply is available to all the branches - all of us.
This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. v:8
The sweets and the souls.
I guess most people tend to interpret the "fruit" mentioned here in the sense of evangelism. In this case the fruit produced would be the souls won to Jesus.
It would seem from the context that Jesus is talking about spiritual fruitfulness such as "the fruit of the Spirit. The product of having the life-force of Christ at work within our lives.
In either case we are expected to produce results. The Father will expect to find evidence of the life of the Son in us. Fruit is the result of a good, healthy, living attachment to the Lord.
Fruit is the result of a vital, nourishing connection with the vine. the main purpose of allowing the branches to remain on the vine to begin with. You do not allow branches to flourish and grow just for the sake of nice, leafy foliage. "Oh, that’s such a fine growth of grape leaves you have there."
I’ve driven several times to Chicago recently. When you get down past the other side of Kalamazoo towards the Indiana state line you begin to see signs advertising winery tours. (No, I haven’t taken one.) But you will notice some vineyards cropping up along that stretch of road. There are neat rows of short-cropped grape vines. There are no unkempt overgrown clumps of grape vines.
Why is that?
Branches require sap to grow in order to support an
ever-increasing expanse of greenery. All that extra sap going to produce healthy leaves actually takes some of the much needed sap away from the process of producing fruit. Now as much as those vineyard owners might enjoy the beauty of large leafy vines they would much rather see a vine-ful of large juicy grapes. That is the real breadwinner of their business. They might derive a small, or a relatively sizable, income from craft makers who wish to but their vines for wreath and basket making. That’s unlikely, but nevertheless, winery not "vinery" is the backbone of their industry.
The Father is not in the business of making wreaths. He is in the business of producing fruit. The kingdom of God is not about decoration or ornamentation. It is about generation and re-generation.
Three Possibilities: (3 possible case scenarios)