I am not a gardener. I actually kill plants when I try to grow them. So, when I read portions of the bible that talk about farming, I have little to relate it to. The Bible tells us that Jesus is the Vine; we are the branches and God is the vinedresser.
Today, I am so exited to have Elaine Willis as a guest blogger. She does an amazing job of breaking these 3 parts down and relating these truths to our lives today.
To learn more about Elaine, you can find her online here, or you can read her bio at the end of the blog post.
Jesus is the Vine
“I am the True Vine.” Jesus speaks these words at the opening of John chapter 15. His earthly ministry is coming to a close. He is mere hours away from the cross. So, what was so important about this message that He saved it until this moment?
Jesus is the Master Teacher, and He chose his subject and timing well.
“I AM” was a name the Jewish people knew well. They knew Jesus was affirming His deity by using it.
Vines were a common picture for the nation of Israel. They were also an agrarian society, so vineyards and vinedressers made for an accessible object lesson. (In education, they call this scaffolding — using a student’s prior knowledge to teach a new concept.)
Jesus also picked a time when the disciples were feeling anxious and when He was preparing them for his physical absence. He leaves them with this phrase, “I am the vine,” knowing that they will be reminded often of this life-giving truth.
Let’s open up our Bibles to John 15 and read about Jesus being the True Vine & how that affects our lives today.
Jesus is the Vine
Even if you didn’t grow up near a vineyard, I’m sure a very clear picture forms in your mind as you read Jesus’ words.
We all know the basic idea of how a vine works. One large central branch is rooted in the soil and spreads out into smaller branches that bear the fruit. Even with the simplicity of the picture, let’s not miss the beautiful truths that are here.
A) Jesus is The Vine: our Life Source
The vine connects the branches to the nourishment of the roots. A branch apart from the vine will not have that constant stream of the nutrients needed for it to live.
Jesus is the Creator & Sustainer of all life. So, to see Him as this True Vine, giving us life, is not a stretch. It is His breath in our lungs. He is the One who lives in us.
“For by Him all things were created, in heaven and in earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” (Colossians 1:16-17)
B) The Vine is Secure
Think back to that picture of a vine. It is the only part of that plant that reaches the ground and is connected to the roots. No matter what type of weather comes along, this vine stays firm through it all. The branches may sway, but they are held fast by the vine.
Spiritual storms may come and threaten to upend everything you hold dear. But the One who holds you fast will never be shaken, and you are safe in Him. (For more encouragement about withering the storms of life, please read my blog post here.)
- “Jesus is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8)
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The Father is the Vinedresser
Next, we meet the Vinedresser. He examines the branches of the Vine to see which are fruitful and which are not.
A) The Vinedresser Takes Away
Branches that aren’t bearing fruit are cut away.
Even with my less than stellar gardening experience, this seems like it makes sense. A branch is supposed to bear fruit, so if it’s not doing what it is created to do, it should be cut off.
These dead branches can be dangerous. I’m sitting here listening as dead branches are falling on my roof after being covered in ice during a winter storm. They are falling with quite a bit of force, and I know they could do some serious damage if they fell in certain spots.
Dead branches also impede the growth of healthy branches. So, as they are taken away, the fruitful branches have more room to grow.
In verse 6, Jesus expands on this and says that these branches are “thrown into the fire, and burned.”
These branches were never truly connected to the vine in the first place. Maybe they outwardly followed the crowd, but the life of Christ was never in them.
B) The Vinedresser Prunes
Even fruit-bearing branches need to be cut back so that they can keep on bearing.
I think back to when my Grandma taught me to cut back her azalea bushes wherever I saw a flower so that they would bloom even better the next year.
In her Bible study Finding I Am**, Lysa TerKeurst says, “Wait a second, what? The branch was bearing fruit! So, why on earth does it get pruned?”
** This link is an affiliate link. See my Disclosure Policy.
She jokes that maybe there should be some sort of cheerful encouragement to that fruit-bearing branch. But, obviously, God knows best. He is not pruning to be cruel or vengeful. He is pruning to encourage more fruit to grow from our lives.
We are the Branches
Finally, let’s take a look at the branches. There they are, connected to the Vine, pruned by the Vinedresser.
A) The Branches Abide in the Vine
As long as a branch stays connected to the vine, the branch has access to the nutrients and life that flow from the vine. The branch just has to stay connected. Basically, it has to stay right where it is!
Does it grow?
Sure! But it remains fastened to the life-giving vine.
Jesus instructs us to “abide” in Him and His love.
How do we abide?
Reading His word, hearing it taught by wise, Godly men and women, connecting with and serving in a local Church body or bible study group. You can listen to theologically rich hymns and worship songs, prayer, and obey His word—these are marks of an abiding Christian.
I’m not trying to give you a checklist of requirements. (Don’t we all love checklists!) I’m trying to point you toward what you already know.
What you have already seen in this very passage. Connecting to the very heartbeat of our Savior, the Vine!
B) The Branches Bear Fruit
Fruit is the ultimate purpose of the branch. We’ve already seen what happens to the branch without fruit. But branches also don’t bear fruit by themselves or for themselves. They must be attached to the vine to bear fruit and they bear fruit for the vinedresser.
Growing up, I remember many Sunday school lessons & songs about the Fruit of the Spirit where the emphasis was on my effort to grow fruit.
Looking at this passage, it’s almost laughable to think of a branch straining to bear fruit on its own. It simply doesn’t have the power to do so. It is not enough on its own. And neither are we. We must abide in Jesus to bear fruit.
A branch also doesn’t get to enjoy the fruit. The fruit is not for the branch. As Christians, we do not bear fruit for our own glory. We bear fruit to bring glory to God.
- “By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.” (John 15:8)
Jesus is the Vine: How this affects us today
- It was a message of HOPE: Jesus knew that these men and women who followed Him would feel hopeless as they watched Him die. I don’t think I can even imagine the darkness and despair they faced over those next few days. Yet, they had these words. “I am the True Vine… Abide in Me.” In verses 15-16, Jesus calls them His friends and tells them that He “chose” and “appointed” them to bear fruit. All is not lost – they (and we) have a purpose in Christ! Just as the Disciples reached for this hope, we too have the same Living Hope! (More on hope can be found here!)
- It was a message of LOVE: “As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you. Abide in my love” (v.9) We abide in His love by obeying His commands. (v.10) His command is to love one another. (v.12) And He has set the example by loving us all the way to the cross. (v. 13) “These things I command you, so that you will love one another.” (v.17)
- It was a message of PEACE: Jesus called on His disciples to abide. No matter what lies ahead, just abide in Him. If you read through all of His teaching that happened on this last night with them, you will see how He is calming their fears and encouraging their hearts. Their only chance to find peace in the middle of the oncoming storm would be to stay connected to the Vine. With this message, Jesus takes all the burden off of us & places it squarely on His shoulders.
- It was a message of JOY: “These things have I spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” (v.11) True, lasting, soul-satisfying joy can only be found in Jesus. Abiding in Him and obeying His commands fills our hearts with the type of joy that no circumstance can steal away. When the branch is connected to the Vine, it has all it needs to live a full, fruit-bearing life.
As we read through this passage together and dug into the truths, I hope you have found comfort and hope in knowing that we are not in this alone.
We have the True Vine anchoring us, nurturing us, and causing us to grow and bear fruit.
I want to leave you with a song that has been playing in my head throughout the writing of this post — “He Will Hold Me Fast.” I hope it points your heart to Jesus, the True Vine, today!
Jesus is the Vine, In the comments below, share how you stay connected to Jesus The Vine.