Jesus, the True Vine
May 26, 2022
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 (John 15:1-3).
The metaphor of the vine and branches is one most common to Christians. But do we understand what the metaphor means? We might know a bit more about vines and branches than most other folks because we live in an area where grapes are grown in abundance. Even so, the spiritual dynamics of the biblical metaphor can be lost to us if we try to interpret it in light of the physical realities of the vineyard vine and branches.
Some questions we should ask are, “Why does Jesus identify Himself with the vine?” “How is God the Father the ‘vine-dresser’?” “Who are the branches? Jews? Christians? Israel?” “What does He mean by saying, 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?” It’s important to ask the journalist’s questions: who, what, when, where, why, how?
Why is Jesus the vine and not some other plant? The grape vine produces grapes. Grapes are used to make wine. Wine is the biblical symbol of blood (Passover wine & Lord’s Supper wine). Life is in the blood (Genesis 9:4; Leviticus 17:14; Deuteronomy 12:23). Jesus is the vine because true life, abundant life, spiritual life, eternal life, is in Him. (John 1:4) In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.
In the Old Testament, the vine represented Israel. (Psalm 80:7-9) Restore us, O God of hosts; cause Your face to shine, and we shall be saved! You have brought a vine out of Egypt; You have cast out the nations, and planted it. You prepared room for it, and caused it to take deep root, and it filled the land. The meaning is clear - the psalmist is calling upon God to revive Israel which had fallen into apostasy and idolatry. He reminds the Lord that He brought them (Israel, the ‘vine’) out of Egypt, defeated the Canaanites, and ‘planted’ Israel in Canaan (the Promised Land). There they flourished, but now they are in a state of sinfulness and facing God’s wrath.
But this was the story of Israel in the Old Testament - on again, off again; faithful, faithless; worshiping God, worshiping idols, etc. Israel proved to be a fruitless vine. Through the prophet Jeremiah God said to Israel, (Jeremiah 2:21) Yet I had planted you a noble vine, a seed of highest quality. How then have you turned before Me into the degenerate plant of an alien vine? Through the prophet Hosea He said, (Hosea 10:1) Israel empties his vine; he brings forth fruit for himself. According to the multitude of his fruit he has increased the altars; according to the bounty of his land they have embellished his sacred pillars.
Jesus is the true vine. He displaces Israel as the focus of God’s plan of salvation. He is the perfect vine, the faithful vine, the obedient vine that has true life that He gives to all who believe in and receive Him as Lord and Savior. Amen.