John chapters fifteen and sixteen record the last in-depth conversation that Jesus had with His disciples. It was time to leave the upper room, where they had shared the last supper together. Maybe they were gathering themselves together to leave, or they were already out on the road walking to Gethsemane. Jesus knew that His time had come to fulfil His purpose and He was trying to prepare His disciples for what lay ahead. In these last hours, Jesus said; “I am the true vine.”
We often say what we really want to say, in the last moments of any conversation. Sometimes as people are leaving, in the doorway or on the path. Or at the very end of a phone call, once someone has said, ‘I must go now,’ we realise we must speak up or the opportunity will be lost. And so we get to the heart of the matter, and say what we wanted to say all along…
This is the seventh I AM statement of Jesus, bringing to perfect completion His words to describe His ministry and purpose. It is the most intimate statement – spoken to those who were His closest disciples in what would be the final moments of Jesus’ earthly ministry – a plea to stay connected to Him.
I Am the True Vine
In the Old Testament Israel was often described as the vine, and God as the gardener. He was the One who cleared the ground in the Promised land to make space for Israel. The One who cared and nurtured His vine, so that they might spread and establish themselves throughout the land. God is the One who watched over them and prepared for a harvest. He looked for good grapes, the expected yield for a nurtured vine in fertile soil, but God found only bad grapes.
Now you dwellers in Jerusalem and people of Judah, judge between me and my vineyard. What more could have been done for my vineyard than I have done for it? When I looked for good grapes why did it yield only bad?Isaiah 5:3-4 NIVUK
I had planted you like a choice vine of sound and reliable stock. How then did you turn against me into a corrupt, wild vine?Jeremiah 2:21
The disciples would have been familiar with the writings of the psalms and the prophets and the imagery of Israel as God’s vineyard. God speaks to us with familiar language, He connects and relates to where we are, He knows what we will understand. This imagery was relevant and familiar to those living in the Middle East. The dream was to live in peace, settled in the land with the time to nurture and grow a vine. The image of sitting under the shade of your own grape vine, was a symbol of security and prosperity – the best of times!
I Am the True Vine Bible Verse
I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. John 15:1
I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:5
Jesus the True Vine
Jesus declared that He is the true vine. Israel should have been the true vine in God’s vineyard, true to the One who had planted, and nurtured them. But they had not remained faithful to God. Jesus is fully who He claimed to be, the revelation of the truth of God’s word and faithful to the Father.
Jesus, shortly, would demonstrate His surrender and submission to the Father’s will. The words that would be wrenched out of Him as He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, as He discerned that His time had come to suffer. Words of obedience and selfless love:
Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will but yours be done.Luke 22:42
Coming to the place of yielding to our Heavenly Father is never without cost – but it is there in love and obedience that our joy is made complete.
…..And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.Hebrews 12:1-2
Because of Israel’s rejection of Jesus, the true vine, He would become the Saviour of the world. The good news of Jesus Christ would spread out, from Jerusalem, to Judea, and to the ends of the world. Yielding in love and obedience the true vine would produce abundant fruit…..
I Am the True Vine and My Father is the Gardener
Jesus is the true vine, as witnessed by His obedience and submission to God’s will. He declared His love for the Father and that He would do exactly what the Father commanded. God is the gardener the One who cares for the vine, and its branches. Part of that care is to prune, to cut back, and to shape the vine so that it might flourish and fulfil its purpose, which is to bear fruit.
Pruning, is refining, and it is never easy – but I believe that God is gracious. He is more gracious to us than we often are to ourselves and to each other.
Compare Luke 13:6-9 – The Barren Fig Tree
A fig tree for three years had failed to bear fruit – it was not fulfilling its purpose. The owner of the vineyard wanted to cut it down, to get rid of it, as a waste of space, and plant something else that would be fruitful. But the caretaker, pleaded for the fig tree, to let it alone and give it one more year, and during that time he would dig around it and fertilise it.
The fig tree was given another chance!
Sometimes there are fallow seasons, and God ‘lets us alone’. But there comes a point when the gardener will start digging. He may even add manure – something which stinks and seems so unpleasant. Slowly it seeps in, working for good, bringing life and health and the prospect of a harvest of fruit. God is patient with us, and gives us every opportunity to respond to His nurturing care.
The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.2 Peter 3:9
What does the Parable of the Vine and Branches Mean?
In this parable, Jesus describes Himself as the true vine, and God the Father as the gardener. Those who are His disciples are the branches. The branches, spread away from each other, to find their own space to flourish. But the branches all must remain connected to the vine, which is rooted in the ground and is their life support.
The branches may be many, but they are all part of the one vine. No branch can survive on its own. There is an expectation that the branches will bear fruit, and that they will be pruned to focus and direct their energy into being more fruitful. Those branches that appear to be part of the vine but are not bearing fruit will be cut off and removed.
The fruit represents the developing of our Christian character, and service, as we abide in Christ. It is not achieved by merely applying moral discipline, or following a code of rules. We have liberty and freedom in Christ Jesus, and the discernment to know what is beneficial to strengthening our faith. Spiritual fruit is produced by co-working with the Holy Spirit, and being willing to submit to the Lord.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law.Galatians 5:22-23
The message of the parable of the vine and the branches, is simply a reminder that Jesus is our source of strength and support. Without Him we are nothing, without Him we cannot do anything. When we are connected to Jesus, when our relationship with Him is our focus and delight, spiritually we will flourish and thrive, to the glory of God. This does not mean that we will never face problems or difficulties but when we stay connected to Jesus, intimacy with Him changes everything.
I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.Philippians 4:13
When the teachings of Jesus become part of who we are, when His words remain in us, we can pray with authority. Prayer in the simplest form is asking – the word prayer means to ‘ask earnestly.’ Jesus teaches in this passage that when His words remain in us, we can approach God and ask in prayer. The fruit of our intimacy with Jesus, will be Holy Spirit guided prayers which are answered for the glory of God.
“The task is not to get God to do something I think needs done, but to become aware of what God is doing so that I can participate in it.” Eugene Peterson.Tweet
Abiding in Christ
What Does it Mean to Abide in Christ?
There are so many resources available to help with relationship problems. In the pressure of increasingly busy lives it has become difficult to maintain healthy relationships. I think we are all now aware that for a personal relationship to survive we have to be intentionally present, and willing to spend time communicating with one another. It can be easy to drift apart when there are so many demands for our attention – but if the relationship is important we prioritise and give the time to make it work.
The most important relationship we will ever have is with the Lord.
To abide in Christ is to prioritise our relationship with Him above everything else. It is when we realise we are totally dependent on Jesus and we need our time with Him, in the word and prayer. Without that time we are lost. It is when we create the space to focus on the Lord, to be talking, and listening, and those times becomes our joy and our strength.
Abiding in Christ is when He is the substance and the source of our lives – when we know that He is our ever-present friend.Tweet
Related Post: You may also like to read, Priorities and Perspective
10 Abiding in Christ Verses pdf
Download this free pdf of Scripture verses. Click Here: Abiding in Christ.
If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. John 15:7
So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in Him, rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. Colossians 2:6-7
As for you, see that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you. If it does, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father. 1 John 2:24
To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” John 8:31-32
So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter. 2 Thessalonians 2:15
But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it. 2 Timothy 3:14
Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teachings of Christ does not have God; whoever continues in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. 2 John:9
It gave me great joy when some believers came and testified about your faithfulness to the truth, telling how you continue to walk in it. 3 John 3
If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. John 15:10
Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from him anything we ask, because we keep his commands and do what pleases him. And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. The one who keeps God’s commands lives in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us. 1 John 3:21-24