Book of John is simple in sentences, vocabulary, and grammar. But, very profound in meaning, truth, practice.
Today’s story is like that.
2 Times Jesus repeats, “I Am the Vine.”
These are the 10th and last statements of Jesus’ “I AM” statements in the book of John.
(bread of life, resurrection, life, way, truth, etc).
Now, “I AM the vine.”
We are his branches and friends (v 1-11)
We are his branches (1-11)
We are his friends (12-17)
Branches and friends reveal our union and communion with Christ.
We have the privilege of sharing his life, but the responsibility of remaining in him.
We have the privilege of knowing his will, but the responsibility of obeying.
“I am a branch.”
“Jesus is my vine.”
We can see 4 elements (helpful) for us to get many blessings from his teaching.
1. The vine
2. The branches
3. The gardener
4. The fruit
#1 The Vine
“I AM the vine.” (v 1,5)
In the Bible, there are 3 vines. Past, future, present vines.
Past = the nation of Israel (OT – Psalm, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Hosea – Israel is pictured as a vine – Hosea 10:1 – Israel was a spreading vine – God transplanted them into Canaan, and gave them all kinds of blessings – but, they produced bad fruit, wild grapes, not righteousness but wickedness – so God had to deal with the past vine, and chasten/discipline them – they did not produce a lasting result. Finally, when Jesus came into the vineyard, they cast him out and killed him).
Future vine (Revelation 14:14-20)
Vine of the Earth – the unsaved people – the pagan, Gentile world system, ripening for God’s final wrath and judgment. The believers are the branches in the vine of heaven, but the unsaved people are the branches in the vine of the Earth. So, the unsaved will be cut down, and destroyed finally when Jesus returns. They depend on this world for their sustainance and satisfaction, but we depend on Jesus.)
Present vine – Jesus Christ, v.1 = “I AM the TRUE vine” (all other vines are just copies).
The symbolism of the vine and branches is similar to that of the head and the body. This is our union and communion. – Living relationship with Christ who is our vine, and we belong to him, we can share his life. It is also loving union, so we can enjoy him. It is lasting union so we do not need to fear.
#2 The branches
v.5 What ideas can you get from the statement that you are the branches?
Branches by themselves are powerless, useless, worthless.
Branches are only useful for bearing (fruit) or burning (in the fire). Branches cannot produce their own life, they must draw it from the source, the vine.
The many images of Christ and us in the Bible emphasize this important concept of union and communion with Christ.
Head and body, husband and wife, shepherd and sheep, body and members, bride and bridegroom.
Marriage creates union, but it takes daily love and devotion to maintain communion (true that).
Even though the sheep bring the sheep into the flock (union), the sheep must follow the shepherd to maintain protection (communion).
A member in the body must remain connected to the body, or die – if you cut off your arm, it dies immediately.
Key word: REMAIN (in Christ)
The sooner we discover we are only branches, the better we will relate to our Savior.
As a vine, the key word is REMAIN, ABIDE, cling to, stick to. If separated from the vine, immediately death.
Remain is repeated 11 times (so it’s pretty important) in this passage.
What does it mean to remain? To keep fellowship with Jesus, continually, in our whole lives – believing in Christ as God, accepting him as personal Savior and Lord, doing what he says, continually believing the power of the gospel, remaining in love in the community of believers.
Each of these activities begins at some point in our lives, but long-term practice = “remaining”
Union and communion, relating and remaining, natural and essential to the branches and the vine. But this remaining relationship must be CULTIVATED – not automatic, we must PAY something to keep this relationship. We need worship, prayer, dedication, the Word of God, sacrifice, service, continual witnessing of Christ to the lost. What a joyful experience it is.
Once we’ve begun to cultivate this kind of life, we have no desire to return to the careless life of careless Christians.
#3 The Gardener
Vine dresser, (v 1-2) – “My Father”
Do you bear fruit? He PRUNES those who do, so that they will be even more fruitful. He CUTS OFF those who don’t…
Around us today, there are many Christians who pray for more growth, more fruit, but don’t enjoy pruning (pruning also means cutting, cleaning – it can be painful).
The gardener cuts off branches in 3 ways.
1. Cut off the dead parts – may be diseased or contain bugs.
2. Cut off some living parts for better growth.
3. Cut off the WHOLE fruit, to produce a better crop.
If the branches could speak, branches would admit, “pruning is painful!”
The greatest wrath that God could ever bring to a believer would be to just let him alone. If God just let a believer go his own way and didn’t prune or correct him, that is the greatest wrath that God could express.
Sometimes even God comes off the good part – even the better part – so that we may enjoy the BEST.
Gardeners must be specially trained or they could destroy the entire crop. Gardeners know where, when, how much, what angle to cut for the BEST fruit. God is the same. Sometimes he uses the Word to change us, but sometimes he uses painful ways.
If your own son and a stranger do something bad, who do you first correct?
If your own son and a stranger do something wonderful, who do you first encourage?
Hebrews 12:5b – “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves and He punishes everyone he accepts as a son…God is treating you as sons, for what son is not disciplined by his father?…Everyone undergoes discipline, if not you, you are illegitimate children…Our fathers disciplined us for evil as they thought best, but God disciplines us for good…No discipline feels good at the time, but produces a harvest of righteousness and peace…”
Pruning may be painful, but it helps.
We may not enjoy it, but we need it for growth.
Do you want to grow? Produce fruit? Pruning is essential. God bless all of us with his holy pruning, because God loves us.
#4 The Fruit
Key word: REMAIN (11 times)
Key word 2: FRUIT (9 times)
Yes, we know a machine can produce a product, or outcome, but only living organisms can produce more life. Fruit is essential to show that we have life. Good branches bear good fruit, bad bear bad fruit, weak branches bear no fruit, apple branches bear apples, cats bear cats, dogs bear dogs. So, what fruit should we produce?
Producing fruit needs time, cultivation, it does not come overnight. Also, quality and quantity are important.
Also, the branches that bear fruit do not eat their own fruit. Other people eat those fruits. We are producing fruit not to please ourselves, but to please and serve others.
The more we remain in Christ, the more we bear fruit, the more fruit, the more we are pruned, so that the more quality and quantity we produce, so that God is glorified by what we produce.
Finally, Jesus accepts us not only as branches but also as friends. (v 12-17)
Command: Love each other as I have loved you.
Command: Love each other.
We may have many acquaintances in our lives, but how many friends do we have? True friends? Friends should be friendly. Unfriendly friends are a contradiction in terms, but many of us have unfriendly friends around us.
“A friend in need is a friend indeed.”
Jesus gives his life when we are in need of life. He gives his peace when we are in need of peace. He gives his joy when we are in need of joy. That’s why Jesus is individually, personally, the best friend to each of us.
Ephesians 1:4-5 “God chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.” If Jesus is the best friend to each of us, then we each should be best friends among us. There are no secrets, no hidden things among true friends.
“Love each other”
How can we show best love to this world? The best love we can show to the lost is to introduce Jesus, because only in Him, eternal life is found. Love is called the greatest command. Evangelism is the greatest commission.
Finally, we are totally pessimistic in that we can do nothing apart from Christ, the vine.
Finally, we are totally optimistic in that we can do anything through Jesus our Lord, the vine.
May God bless all of us in our union and communion with our vine and our best friend.