‘I am the true vine’ is the last of the great ‘I am’ sayings in John’s Gospel. In the Old Testament, Israel was often referred to as a vine or vineyard (Psalm 80:8-16, Isaiah 5:1-7, Ezekiel 15:1-6, Ezekial 19:10-14), planted and cultivated by God for his delight and the produce it should yield. However, Israel had failed; the vine had not proved fruitful due to its unfaithfulness. Jesus’ claim to be the true vine is therefore very dramatic, since he is the fullness of that which is only partial or even false in other vines.
John 15 should be one of the most freeing and empowering passages in Scripture, since it affirms that, as Christians, we are all attached to the ‘vine’ – Jesus. Believing we have a right to belong in Jesus’ kingdom is central to living a life of freedom and power. We are all loved and valuable in God’s eyes – no one is more important or more loved than anyone else. It’s a simple idea, but one that we struggle with so often as we wrestle with identity and significance and trying to work out what is our unique contribution to the world.
The low self-esteem of people in our culture is big news. Even Christian people may feel as if everyone else is better than they are – other Christians are the true vine branches, whereas they must be a briar or something that has been grafted on that doesn’t really belong or have any right to be attached to the true vine. People often feel they are ‘not good enough’ to be a significant part of Jesus’ body – and certainly not an effective and powerful part. Often this happens when they compare themselves with others.
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Another important truth to draw out in John 15 is the idea of remaining in the vine (John 15:4).By staying connected to Jesus we produce fruit, which brings glory to the Father. Our society is overly concerned with our output and effectiveness, often at the cost of character. Some of this ideology has spilled over into the Christian world and, if we’re not careful, we can spend too much of our time doing things for God, rather than just knowing him and being known by him.
Have you considered that when Jesus was baptised and God said, ‘This is my Son, whom I love, and I am very pleased with him,’ (Matt 3:17), Jesus had as yet performed NO miracles, taught NO lessons and given NO commands? He had not yet started his ministry, but had simply been spending time growing in the knowledge and love of his Father. Abiding in Jesus needs to be at the centre of all that we are and all that we do, as this is where we draw our spiritual strength and where we stay humble enough to submit to his pruning.
Finally, we can learn a lot from this passage about the importance of belonging. Again, our society places a high value on individuality and self-sufficiency – leaning on and needing others is often seen as a weakness, but here Jesus places great emphasis on us all belonging and being attached to each other through him. God, the true gardener, takes the trouble to prune and develop us all for the benefit of the whole vine. A healthy person is a happy person, who in turn is an effective person. God invests in us being healthy and happy for our own good so that we might be fruitful and so that the whole vine reflects the perfection of the true gardener.
This is taken from the Scripture Union bible study.
Be blessed friend as you remain in Him and are part of the whole body of Christ,