Summary: This message is taken from John 15:5 and blended with Old Testament references to Israel being the Vine...
Introduction: Well this morning, we are going to look at the last of the 7 I AM statements of Jesus found in John. So far we have looked at these I AM statements from Jesus:
• I am the Bread of life
• I am the Light of the World
• I am the Door
• I am the Good Shepherd
• I am the Resurrection and the Life
• I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life
These are some unique claims of Jesus…as you talk with people at work, school, and the coffee shop you will meet folks who doubt or reject the claims of Jesus. I want to commend you to study some apologetics books like Lee Strobel’s Case for Faith and Case for Christ. (show other books from the church library). These books can help you give a reasonable answer to skeptics.
Today we are going to look at Jesus last I AM statement in John 15:1 (NIV)
"I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.” What prompts Jesus to use this metaphor? Jesus may have been leaving the upper room at the end of chapter 14 and might have stopped in front of the Temple to teach. One of the glories of the Temple was the great golden vine upon the front of the Holy Place.” (Barclay) It was a gigantic grapevine of pure gold. He may have been prompted to share this metaphor by the golden wonder at the Temple.
We also know that the vine had become the symbol of the nation of Israel. Isaiah 5:7 (NIV) The vineyard of the Lord Almighty is the house of Israel...
Psalm 80:8 (NIV) You brought a vine out of Egypt; you drove out the nations and planted it.
The vine represented the covenant people of God, planted, and tended by God so that Israel would bear fruit. Often in the OT, when Israel is depicted as a vine or vineyard, the nation is being chastised for not bearing fruit or for going wild.
Jeremiah 2:21 (NIV) I had planted you like a choice vine of sound and reliable stock. How then did you turn against me into a corrupt, wild vine?
In this gardening metaphor there are three characters introduced: the vine, the gardener, and the branches. Let’s look at each character and see his role in the garden. First…
1. The Vine produces branches. God has always been interested in seeing fruit come from His garden. Israel was chosen to bless the nations, to produce branches that would extend God’s garden, His Kingdom.
Isaiah 5:1-5 (NAB) Let me now sing of my friend, my friend’s song concerning his vineyard. My friend had a vineyard on a fertile hillside; He spaded it, cleared it of stones,and planted the choicest vines; Within it he built a watchtower, and hewed out a wine press. Then he looked for the crop of grapes, but what it yielded was wild grapes. Now, inhabitants of Jerusalem and men of Judah, judge between me and my vineyard: What more was there to do for my vineyard that I had not done? Why, when I looked for the crop of grapes, did it bring forth wild grapes? Now, I will let you know what I mean to do to my vineyard: Take away its hedge, give it to grazing, break through its wall, let it be trampled!
So Jesus steps on to the scene and makes the claim that He is the true vine. What a shocking statement that must have been to Jewish ears!! Jesus is the representation of God to the nations and His vessel of salvation. He has taken Israel’s place as God’s true planting. Israel was not fruitful vine. God has always been eager to see fruit come from His garden…and the true vine produces branches.
In talking about the Gentiles coming to Christ, Paul wrote this. Romans 11:17-18 (NIV) If some of the branches have been broken off, and you, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root, do not boast over those branches. If you do, consider this: You do not support the root, but the root supports you. The wild shoot—the Gentiles now share in the nourishment of the olive tree. So the picture in scripture is that when we come to Christ we are grafted into Christ and into His nourishment as a source of life.
The first thing we learn from this gardening metaphor is that the vine produces branches. Secondly…
2. The Gardener prunes branches. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. John 15:2 (NIV)