Jesus the True Vine


grapes growing in Israel
Jesus the True Vine

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A little while back I wrote about the 7 - “I am” statements that Jesus made in the Gospel of John. Today we look at the last one of these, “I am the true Vine.”

Jesus has shared the Last Supper with his disciples and He is heading to the garden of Gethsemane to pray knowing that his suffering and death is about to begin. Suddenly, possibly as they were walking on their way to the garden - he makes statements to the disciples about being the True Vine. Perhaps they passed a grape vine on their way to the garden and like many rabbis he then uses it to teach.

The Old Testament often compares Israel to a grape vine, in a negative way. In Isaiah 5:1-2. The vineyard which Yahweh planted was supposed to yield sweet grapes. But the grapes went wild and sour. Israel had become false to Yahweh. Jesus emphatically states that He alone is the true vine which produces true sweet fruit, and not their bitter fruit. True fruit can only come through being connected to Jesus.

Some Christians worry about this part of John and the inference that if you do not produce fruit you will be cut off and burned in the fire. But God does not give up so easily on his people. We can know this because he has not given up on his first people, Israel. All you have to do is look at the history of the wars of Modern Israel and how they were won to know, Israel is being watched over and tended by God.

God will first do what He can with the fruitless branches. If you take a look at the actual original Greek it was written in, literally, it reads “Any branch in ME not bearing, He lifts up. Jesus is describing what a good gardener does to get branches to produce fruit. Getting a branch which is lying on the ground and tying it up on the trellis. Often as Christians we may be working for God and doing what we are meant to be doing but have no idea whether we are producing fruit or not. Sometimes the harvest is hidden from us. But if a person is truly a Christian, they will bear fruit. It might take a lot of work and encouragement, and even being pruned. But it will naturally happen and those of us with possible ‘hidden harvests’ just have to trust God.

The next thing a good gardener does is to take branches that are producing some fruit and cut off some of the leaves so that the sap which comes up from the roots might be used to produce more fruit. This is a well known practice of those who work with grapes. One wants just enough leaves to produce sugar by photosynthesis. This is needed by the fruit. But if the sugar goes to producing more branchlets and leaves, then the strength of the plant is being directed away from the fruit. So the good gardener prunes the branches so that more fruit can be produced. Jesus goes on to say that the disciples (minus Judas who had already left to betray Jesus and was cut off), were already cleansed through the words Jesus had spoken to them. This indicates that the Word of God acts to discipline the believer to produce more fruit.

Jesus is the true vine, we are the branches we can only grow when rooted in the Word.