David read from John 15:1-7, concluding his series on Jesus’ ‘I AM’ declarations with “I AM the true vine.” (v.1). He emphasised Jesus’ use of the qualifier ‘true’, saying that this reveals an important aspect of Jesus.
True vine implies there is another, unreliable one. Here Jesus was referring to Israel, often symbolised in the Old Testament by a vine – for example:
Tragically, Israel failed in its calling to be a light to the nations; every aspect of that calling, however, was fulfilled by Jesus.
Then Jesus adds, “and my Father is the gardener”. It was God who planted Israel like a choice vine. Even when they failed Him, he did not stop tending to them. He sent Jesus, the true Israel, who embodied all that God had called Israel to be.
David then highlighted the third component of the metaphor: the branch (v.2). Jesus is the vine; the branches are His followers (us). If we are ‘in’ Jesus, our lives will bear fruit – lasting fruit. Here Jesus is preparing His disciples for His departure. He is also preparing them for the task ahead – continuing His mission.
Fruitful living, Jesus says, has four aspects: pruning, remaining, obeying and loving.
Pruning refers to the painful experiences of life, and how God often uses them to produce good things in our lives. It also refers to the cleansing effect of God’s Word:
Scripture has the ability to cut into our lives and instruct us, enabling the growth of greater fruit. We must ask ourselves if God’s Word is challenging us now so that we might become more fruitful.
How do we do this? We need to reflect on Scripture daily, absorb it and lean on it so it will renew, motivate, shape and fill us. We need, with the Spirit’s help, to endeavour to grasp the amazing extent of His love, and really know it, becoming rooted in it. This passage tells us that Jesus loves us (incredibly) just as the Father loves Him! Meditate on this:
Thirdly, obeying. Disobedience threatens our awareness of His love. As we respond to His love, we naturally do what He commands us to do. We do not obey in order to be loved. Already loved by God, we express our love and gratitude to Him by obedience.
Christians’ love for one another points people to Jesus – it is missional. It is sacrificial love, where we give our lives over to serving others rather than our own interests.
As branches of the true vine we are bound up with Him, and He longs for us to carry on His mission and bear much fruit, fruit that will last. This is our response to His deep love for us, for He is all that we need.
- I AM the Bread of life
- I AM the Light of the world
- I AM the Door
- I AM the Good Shepherd
- I AM the Resurrection and the Life
- I AM the Way, the Truth and the Life
- I AM the True Vine.