Wednesday, 1 June 2022

I Am The Vine (Part One)

John 15:1-4 reads,

“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.  You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.”

Jesus is creating such a wonderful picture here! I pray these words can encourage us today.

The "I Am" Statements Of Jesus Christ- "I Am The Vine." (Part One)

Root yourself O’ Christian to Jesus Christ, our Vine!
Abide in Him and watch your life produce the sweetest wine.
Cling to the Messiah, make Him your pursuit,
He cultivates and trains us so our lives may bear much fruit!

Do not resent O’ Christian, the times when He will prune,
We know our Lord has more for us, He’s simply making room!
Fix yourself to Jesus, enlace and intertwine!
Praises to the great “I Am” for He is our True Vine!

Romans 6:21-23
“What fruit did you have then in the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death.  But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life.  For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Psalm 146:8
“The Lord gives sight to the blind,
the Lord lifts up those who are bowed down,
the Lord loves the righteous.”

Points For Reflection
I absolutely love the changing of the seasons and it’s wonderful to see the fruits of Summer all around us at this time of year. It seems like a fitting time to look at the words of Jesus in John 15 as He talks about being the true vine, with our lives bearing fruit when we abide in Him.

It’s interesting that Jesus uses the word “true” in this statement. In the Old Testament, the vine and the vineyard are often used as metaphors to describe Israel and the vine was an image that was frequently found as an emblem within Judaism. Psalm 80, Isaiah 5 and Ezekiel 19 are just a few examples of where we can see the vine being used as a metaphor for Israel.
The image of the vine was also carved into the doors of the Temple that Jesus and His Disciples were passing during their conversation in John 15. This was perhaps what instigated the dialogue between them as they made their way to the Garden of Gethsemane, under the full moon of Passover.

Considering the image of the vine was so closely associated with Judaism, it seems that when Jesus made the point of saying, “I am the true vine,” it was because He knew His Disciples would be rejected from Judaism because of Him.
He knew they would be shunned by the religious leaders of the day but Jesus was also making the point that Judaism and “religion” are not the way to salvation. Religion is not the source of life and Jesus makes it clear here that it’s only a personal relationship with Him and being connected to Him that saves us.

Although Judaism wasn’t the way to salvation, it was pointing to Jesus as all their ceremonies and rituals were symbolic of Him. When Jesus said, “I am the true vine,” He was making it clear that He was the reality of what Judaism represented and He was the fulfilment of it. Jesus was also highlighting the fact that He is the true vine for both the Jew and the Gentile. He is the One who gives each person a purpose in life and it’s through Christ and Christ alone that we come into a personal relationship with God.

I pray we can really grasp the meaning found in these verses. The beautiful picture we see very clearly in John 15, is that we are put on this planet to be connected to Jesus. Being joined to our Creator is the key because it’s when we give our life to Him that His purpose will be lived out through our lives.

When we connect to Jesus then we are partakers of the divine nature of God. We’ll have a new nature and a yearning for righteousness. We’ll desire things that are honourable because when we’re in fellowship with God, we want to live for holiness and for what’s true.
He is the Source of all life and so the result of being connected to our Creator, is His life will begin to flow through ours and we will begin to bear fruit.

Do you have a real, living and personal relationship with Jesus? If so, what fruit can you see in your life as a result? What changes has God made in your heart and life since connecting to Jesus, the true vine?

Verses 2-4 in John 15 have often been misunderstood in their meaning. Let’s revisit that portion of Scripture. It reads,

“Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.  You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.”

This section has frequently been misunderstood and some have come away with the idea that if we are unfruitful as Christians, then Jesus will discard us while those who are being fruitful and growing in the Lord will be cut back by some sort of heavenly hedge-trimmers!
This is very discouraging on both accounts but thankfully a closer look at the Scriptures reveals a far more encouraging message.

In the original text, the Greek word used for “take away” is “airei” (eh-ro) which has four definitions. One definition is to “take away” but it also means “lifting up,” “raising up,” and “taking up.” This, in line with what we know of the character of God, gives us the picture that for the unfruitful Christian, the one struggling and getting bogged down with the things of this world, the Lord will lift them up!
Just as a good gardener lifts and props up the struggling vine, so too will our loving, Heavenly Father lift up the struggling Christian. The branch that is “down in the mud,” so-to-speak and not doing well, will be raised up, supported and helped so that it can begin to bear fruit again. It’s a really loving picture given by Jesus, of how God helps us.

When Jesus says in verse 2,
“every branch that bears fruit He prunes,” the original word in the Greek that was used for “prunes” was “kathairei.” This word means “to clean” or “to cleanse” and it’s where we get our word “catharsis” from.

This again helps us to understand what Jesus is saying here, this time in regards to the fruitful life. He’s not saying in a negative way that God is going to “cut back” those who are growing in the Lord and producing fruit with their life. He’s saying that every branch that bears fruit, God “cleanses,” that it might produce more fruit!

Any vine, overly laden with fruit becomes heavy and the fruit can become rotten. The branch needs the fruit to be pruned so that it can bear more. Again, if we picture how a good vinedresser would prune and cleanse a vine laden with fruit, we see the positive picture of how God cleanses us and helps us bear more fruit.
Once more, it’s a positive analogy with a loving, comforting, restoring and nurturing picture of how Jesus helps us to grow as Christians.

It’s a picture the Disciples would have understood readily as this kind of care was often seen in the culture, looking after the vines. It’s also an analogy we can take great encouragement from today.

Do you feel you’ve been drawn into unfruitful things in your life? Ask Jesus to help you in these circumstances, knowing that He is willing and able to lovingly lift you up and support you as you get back on track with Him.

Do you feel you’re in a really fruitful time of your life and are doing well as you grow in the Lord? Let’s praise God today for His nurturing care in our lives and may the fruit of our days bring glory to His name and souls into His Kingdom!