John 15:5 I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing. [NRSV]
So far John 15 has been all about repetition. Over and over these verses have reminded us our purpose is to abide in the “true” vine. [Down through Jewish history the vine became the symbol of Israel. During the Macabees period of history, the symbol of the vine was on the coins of Israel. It was over the main doors of the synagogues. (Antiquities of the Jews by Jewish historian, Josephus (5.5.4)] The symbol of the vine had become more about the nation than God. Even the purchase of gold to add a branch or a single grape to those synagogue vines could be considered an act of worship.
It’s easy to be distracted from what “true” worship is and the fruit it’s meant to produce. Jesus says “Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing.” Jesus’ challenge is to accept this one truth: a relationship to Him is the reality of a connection to God Himself. He is the only “true” vine and the branches are carefully, and artfully cultivated and pruned to produce the “true” fruit of worship: “to glorify God and enjoy him forever.” [Westminster]
John 15:1 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinegrower.”
This is another “new” experience. An offhand idea last Sunday has stuck in my brain. What if I did a chapter verse by verse? The sermon series at church was ending with John 14 but John 15 is one of my all time favorite chapters so that’s my choice to begin.
It’s going to be interesting because right off the bat there is a very short statement by Jesus. The “vinegrower” is depending on the “true vine” to establish the vineyard. The quality of the crop is totally dependent on the ability of the true vine to multiply and reproduce itself while maintaining the exact properties it was chosen for.
I barely dipped into the vast amount of information on the internet about the development of grapevines over the ages and found something I think strengthens the imagery of Jesus’ claim. Long before the birth of Christ there are documented efforts of the struggle of vine growers to develop grapevines that were able to reproduce their desirable qualities without continually having to introduce variable characteristics from another vine.
The Bible doesn’t waste it’s analogies. Jesus could claim He was the “true vine” because He was the complete and accurate reflection of his Father who perfectly reproduces that same unique likeness within His followers.