Jesus said these words at the beginning of John 15:
1 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser.
2 Every branch of mine that bears no fruit, he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.”
There is a lot of meaning in these few words and much that we can gain from understanding what they are saying. They are powerful words that we need to take to heart as they help us recognise several important teachings as we walk with Christ.
Let’s look at what they have to say and gain insight into the word of God, the nature and work of Jesus Christ and the Father.
I am the true vine
Think about a grape vine for a moment. They can grow for a very long time and they produce fruit that is useful to those who grow the vine. The vine consists of a trunk or root system with a number of branches and tendrils that spread out and crawl along a great distance as the plant grows and spreads. They can often grow quite large and strong as they mature and they fruit regularly.
But they provide better and more fruit when they are dressed or pruned. When they have the dead growth and old unfruitful branches taken away, then they are able to support more fruitful branches and so be useful to the owner of the vine or vineyard.
So when Jesus is saying that “I am the true vine” he is emulating all of these same qualities. He is the root or trunk of our salvation. He is the one in whom we need to abide for as He said, “I am the way and the truth and the life.” When we abide in Him, we abide in the truth, the life and we find the way to God.
We will see as we continue further into John 15 that we are the branches that grow on this vine who is Jesus, and as verse 2 above says, if we do not bear fruit we will be taken away.
Also we need to consider that if Jesus is the vine, who is the owner of the vine? Who is it that gets the benefit of the fruit of the true vine who is Jesus? It is the Father who is described here as the vinedresser. And that description is pregnant with meaning too.
My Father is the vinedresser
The words of Jesus saying, “My Father is the vinedresser” need to be considered carefully. What Jesus is saying here is that it is the Father who is working on the vine. It is the Father who is working on the branches of the vine, which is the church, pruning or cutting away the dead wood so tha the vine will remain strong and healthy and able to bear the good fruit.
Some people don’t have a sense of who the Father is or what He does. He is often seen as a distant and unreachable God. We know Jesus is the King of kings and Lord of Lords, but the Father is the God of Gods. And perhaps it is because He is so awesome and awe-inspiring that we tend to think of Him as being out of reach. I say this because I once thought that way.
But what is this scripture here telling us? It says that He, the Father, is the vinedresser. The Father is the one doing the work and the decision making on which branches to cut off and which branches to prune so they bear more fruit. The Father is working actively with each and every one of us for His glory.
Look at some other scriptures that bear out this view of the Father.
“My Father is working still, and I am working.” (John 5:17)
“Sit at my right hand, till I make thy enemies a stool for thy feet”? (Hebrews 1:13)
“My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.” (John 10:29)
26 In that day you will ask in my name; and I do not say to you that I shall pray the Father for you;
27 for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from the Father. (John 16:26-27)
In all of these we see the Father is active and nearby, loving and caring for us and keeping us secure from harm. We see that He is working with Christ to achieve His plans and purposes.
The challenge for each of us is to recognise the work of the Father by obeying His word which is to believe in the Son. The two are working hand in hand to give salvation to those who have faith. When we come to Christ, believing that the Father has resurrected Him and all the teachings that go with the power of the death and resurrection of Christ, then we come to a place where we are part of the branches of the true vine.
As a branch of the true vine we need to abide in the vine, that is in Christ. Just as the branches of the vine need the support and food from the root and trunk of the vine, we too need to food and support of Jesus Christ and the food of the teachings of Christ and the living water He gives us.
When we abide in the true vine we live. But if we step away from the truth seeking the ways of the world or seeking our own righteousness apart from Jesus Christ (not that there is any such thing), then we wither as branches and may be cut off from the vine by the Father. But if we stay and eat the spiritual food or teachings of Christ, we bear fruit and the Father works with us to prune and strengthen us so we can bear even more fruit.
There is a lot in these few words. They made me stop and think and I hope you got something from them too.
(Photo sourced from stock.xchng taken by Raul Jacobsen)