7491 - I Am the True Vine

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Audio transcript

In our Bible studies we have been in a series looking at the seven “I Am” statements of Jesus in the Gospel of John.

To close out our ‘I Am’ series, we now look at the last of these seven sayings– I am the true vine. Jesus is in the room of the ‘last supper’ with his disciples, before going to Gethsemane. Listen to John 15 (1,2,4,5):

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful....Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”

Here we have the description of a grapevine growing from fertile ground under the watchful eye of a gardener. Jesus is the vine, and supplies everything needed to the branches for life and health.

Notice it is God the Father who is the vine dresser. He tends and cares for the vine and all the branches. No branch escapes His attention. The vine dresser is interested in healthy branches so that the vine may produce much fruit out on the branches.

Friend, the objective is for the branches to bear fruit – fruit of the Spirit – righteousness and godliness along with the natural, expected reproduction of grapes.

Did you notice that there are two types of branches discussed. There are nonproductive branches and productive branches.

Four things which may cause a branch to become nonproductive come to mind:

1. A branch may go to leaf. That means all its effort and nourishment go to make beautiful leaves.

What would be the spiritual lesson? This would be the Christian who confuses his priorities, and get sidetracked into ‘doing’ instead of ‘being.’ They may ‘look good’ and be very active but bear no fruit. Dawson Troutman, founder of the Navigators, said, “God is not interested in our activity, but our productivity.”

2. The second reason a branch may become nonproductive is that some disease may attack. Perhaps a fungus or a parasite takes hold. Then the branch becomes sick.

The obvious spiritual parallel is the Christian who gets enamored by the things of the world. They become spiritually sick and for a time cease to produce spiritual fruit.

3. A third cause of non productivity may be sclerosis – growing hard.

Now Friend the issue is not growing old, but rather the responsiveness and yieldedness of the heart. Are you still flexible and pliable because the Word is your standard for making decisions in life, or has your heart grown hard and cold because of adopting worldly standards?

4. A fourth thing is that the branch may get broken or twisted so that the nourishment can not flow from the vine to the branch. They are detached from the vine.

Notice that nonproductive branches are taken away from the vine. They are not left attached so that they sap the nourishment and strength of the vine.

It says the vine dresser prunes the productive branches. The idea here is to purify the branch so it may bear more fruit. Pruning may be trimming off suckers or broken pieces. This word also bears the idea of cleansing from anything which would hinder production of fruit.

How does pruning occur in nature? That’s right, by wind, during the storm. The broken twigs fall to the ground.

God uses storms in our life to prune away those things that would keep us from being productive as believers. People often call these experiences trials or troubles. 1 Thes (3:3) tells us, “You know quite well that we were destined for trials.” And James says we should count trials as a joy, because we recognize that God is purifying us.

Twice He emphases the necessity for the branch to abide in Him. Then Jesus said, without me, you can do nothing. This highlights the need to abide in Him. The fruit is produced by the vine out on the branches as they abide.

That word bear may mean “to support or to hold up” instead of produce. It makes more sense to give the credit for production to the vine for that’s where all the nourishment comes from. All the nutrients come up through the vine to the branch. So the branch has the privilege and joy of holding up all the fruit that the vine can produce through it and on it.

Friend, productive branches abide in Christ drinking in the nourishment and provision He sends along for fruit bearing. We have the privilege of holding up the fruit which He produces.
Let’s be yielded and pure then give Jesus all the credit for bearing fruit.