If there was ever a message that needed to be preached to the church it was the message of the true vine and the branches. It is here in this discourse that Jesus is announcing the work of the Father in the life of the church.
This text is designed to instruct the believer that the work of producing fruit is the work of abiding in God. It also reveals that the believer must yield to the work of the Father as He serves the needs of those who are abiding in the vine.
It is in this text that we discover that the deeper life for the believer is the yielded life of the believer. The child of God that is totally yielded to the Father will endure the things of God and become the servant of God.
This text today will educate us on abiding in Christ and producing results.
The first verse of this passage reveals the ministry of instruction from Christ:
1I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.
Jesus presents divine instruction by revealing and unknown truth to the disciples. We usually see Jesus speak in parables, but this statement is given as an allegory.
He is using the vine, branches, and vinedresser to illustrate a truth to the disciples. In this allegory a divine lesson will be given to help them understand what God wants to do, will do and is doing in their lives at this moment.
The second thing we see is that he opens the story with a declarative statement that we have seen before in this book. It is the revelation of His name so that they might understand who is doing the speaking in this story!
This is the seventh and last of the “I AM” statements of Christ recorded in the Gospel of John. It is the declarative statement that Jesus is the great “I AM” (He is God).
This is the same statement made as Moses asks what he should tell the Israelites as he is sent to approach Pharaoh (I AM has sent me to you).
He is not only the God of heaven and earth who sends, but He is also the TRUE VINE. This is Important because there were many vines in his day. As the true vine, he separates Himself from others who claim to be true.
There are actually three different vines found in Scripture—the past vine was the nation of Israel (Ps. 80:8-19, Isa. 5:1–7, Jer. 2:21, Ezek. 19:10–14, and Hosea 10:1).
In an act of wonderful grace, God transplanted Israel into Canaan and gave the nation every possible benefit. But the vine produced wild grapes! Instead of practicing justice it practiced oppression; instead of producing righteousness it produced unrighteousness and cries of distress from the victims. God had to deal with the nation of Israel and chasten it, but even that did not produce lasting results. When God’s own Son came to the vineyard they cast Him out and killed Him (Mat. 21:33-46).
There is a future vine, “the vine of the earth” described in Revelation 14:14-20. This is the Gentile world preparing for God’s judgment.
The believers are branches in the “the vine of heaven,” but the unsaved branches are in “the vine of the earth.” The unsaved depend on this world for their sustenance and satisfaction while believers depend on Jesus Christ. The “vine of the earth” will be cut down and destroyed when Jesus Christ returns.
The present vine (TRUE VINE) is our Lord Jesus Christ and, of course, the vine includes the branches.
He is the TRUE VINE, that is, the original vine! As Christians, we do not live on substitutes! The symbolism of the vine and branches is similar to that of the head and the body: we have a living relationship to Christ and belong to Him.
The “right now” commentary on this text is that we are currently living in Him and we are alive in Christ. Right now in the universe there is a vine with people grafted into it! It is alive and we are alive in Him as His branches.
The unbelievers are grafted into the vine of this world—they are not in Christ and must be removed from the vine and grafted into one another.
Here’s an example: in California, we have vineyards and vineyards of grape vines. In comparison to Middle East vines, ours is a very fragile plant and it is easy to break off the branch. However, the vines in the Holy Land are large and strong, and it is nearly impossible for anyone to break off a mature branch without injuring the vine itself.
And so it is in Christ; we are a part of an ever eternal secure vine that is impossible for us to be removed from. It’s what we call the eternal security of the believer. This is why the allegory is being used.
Our union with Christ is a living union, a loving union, and a lasting union—so that we need not be afraid.
The first verse ends with Jesus stating that, “My Father is the vinedresser.”
Here we see the eternal dynamics of the triune God at work in the salvific plan of His own deity!
Jesus is not working alone in the life of those grafted into Him. He is co-laboring with His father who is overseeing all of the divine work that is being done, produced and birthed through the life of the Vine!
Jesus calls His father the vinedresser. The vinedresser is in charge of caring for the vine, and Jesus said that this is the work of His father.
The father as the vinedresser is intimately concerned with the work of the vineyard. He plants, nurtures, looks after and protects the vine. He serves, secures and minsters to the vine. The vine is on His mind and His mind is on the vine.
Here, you get to see what the Father is doing in the current reality of our lives in the Church. We are on the mind of the father, and the father is on our mind.
He is looking after us; he is feeding, serving caring and watching over us. He is invested in us.
It is His delight to place us in this vineyard and give us a role in His divine plan to redeem mankind. He is our vinedresser and the delight is to be under His care. As a vinedresser he has me on His mind during every season of the year!
- When the suns of turmoil are beating down on me I am on His mind!
- When the rains of tribulation are drowning me with sorrows I am on His mind!
- When the winter winds of heartache and social injustice are beating me down I am on the mind of the vinedresser!
He never leaves me without and He never leaves me alone! I am His and He is mine.
Is there any witness today that knows He has His eyes on you?
Does anybody here know that He will come and see about you? Does anybody know that he has your best interest at hand?
In the second part of our text, we see the actual work of the Father in the life of the branches as recorded through the Son.
2Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.
The work of the Father is to take care of the branches and to examine the vine to see what the branches are producing—no branch is going without intervention and observation. Each branch must stand up to the scrutiny of the vinedresser, the Holy Father!
Right here, this morning, every branch is under the watchful eye of the vinedresser—in this moment, every area of your life is known unto the father. In this new year, every deed ever done in the body is being seen under the watchful eye of the Father.
The text says that, “Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit,”—here, we get a glimpse at what the Father is looking for in the branch!
- He is looking to see if the branch is at work in the vine.
- He is looking to see if the branch is doing what it was designed to do.
- He is looking to see if it is an obedient or a disobedient branch.
- He is looking to see if the branch fruitful or retarded.
He is looking to see if the branch will serve its purpose or do what it wants to do. He looks to see if it bears fruit!
Right now family, in the divine vineyard of God, there is an inspection taking place!
The vinedresser is taking notice of who is doing what and how much fruit they are producing! Right now, the vinedresser is taking note of how much is getting done in each and every life that is grafted into His son.
The inspection is real and it is active. The inspection itself causes the vinedresser to do something about what he finds in His vineyard.
Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.
Here we find a frightening discovery! Those branches that have had a chance to produce and bear fruit, but have chosen not to do so, the Father removes them from the vine (he takes them away)!
They do not get another season to try again, another semester to think things over, nor do they get another day or hour because their time to produce has come and gone.
Instead of leaving them on the vine to do nothing they are removed from the work of the vineyard!
Perhaps, he takes them away because their season of life is over, because they have served their purpose and if left on the vine they would do no good.
We also see that He takes them away—perhaps because their season of life is over! It’s important to note that this does not infer or suggest a loss of position in Christ! Nor does it infer a removal from service in his church (which is His body). It clearly and simply records, that where there is no more fruit, there is no more life! Everything living in the vine should produce something living.
Why? It is an eternal vine! It is the life-giving source, the foundation for all things living! If one is connected but not producing, they are dead.
This text arrests me in this new year!
- Could this be the year that he takes some of us away?
- Could this be the year our fruit bearing goes out?
- Could this be the year he takes some home?
- Could this be the year that our fruitfulness subsides?
- Could you be here, but bearing no fruit?
Does your life bear the fruits of the Spirit of God (joy, peace, gentleness, kindness, meekness and long suffering)?
In the close of our text we see how the vinedresser prunes the branches in two ways: He is either cutting them to remove them, or cutting them to prune them. The Father alone is responsible for the branches.
When He cuts them off there is no more pruning (they are done)! When He prunes them there is more left for them to do!
Warren Wiersbe commenting on this text says, “He cuts away dead wood that can breed disease and insects, and he cuts away living tissue so that the life of the vine will not be so dissipated that the quality of the crop will not be jeopardized. In fact, the vinedresser will even cut away whole bunches of grapes so that the rest of the crop will be of higher quality.”
“As the vinedresser, God wants both quantity and quality. This pruning process is the most important part of the whole enterprise and the people who do it must be carefully trained or they can destroy an entire crop. Some vineyards invest two or three years in training the “pruners” so they know where to cut, how much to cut, and even at what angle to make the cut.”
The greatest judgment God could bring to a believer would be to let him alone and let him have his own way! However, because God loves us, He prunes us and encourages us to bear more fruit for His glory.
A.D. Wilson says, “Not only does he love us and prune us, but he employs the pruners in our lives, to inflict us with pain so that we will produce!”
Is there anybody here that knows that sorrow can be employed by God to prune some areas in your life?
Is there anybody here that knows that God can use the spade of suffering to prune away some things that you don’t need?
Does anybody here know that poverty works for God and can be used to prune away hidden desires that may cause you to be fruitless?
Does anybody here that knows God can use physical illness, cancer, broken limbs and undiagnosed aliments, to prune your witness so that you bare more fruit?
Have you ever seen God use your pain, to make you shine?
- Have you ever seen Him carry your load and make you fruitful?
- Have you ever had Him inflict you in order to use you?
- Have you ever been misused by someone so that your fruit may shine?
- Have you ever been set up by the divine in order to bring Him honor and glory?
- Have you ever been talked about by the one you were trying to help and God refused to let you stop helping them?
- Have you ever been broken for doing the right thing?
If you can say yes to any of these, then I want to welcome you to Pruning 101! It’s the school of suffering and the center of pruning for pleasure—where the God of Heaven and Earth is at work in your life!
This is the institute of divine purpose, the class of consuming collisions. It’s the back of the bus where you never get ahead. Welcome to the divine calamity of grace, where every scrape and bump brings fruit to the branch!
- If He is pruning you it’s because you have favor!
- If He is pruning you it’s because He loves you!
- If He is pruning you it’s because there is more to you than meets the eye.
However, if He isn’t pruning you, you won’t be here long.
- If he isn’t pruning you your time is almost up.
- If he isn’t pruning you, you’re getting ready see Him.
- If he isn’t pruning you, a preacher is doing your eulogy.
- If he isn’t pruning you the clock is right on the wall.
- If he isn’t pruning you, you need to get your affairs in order.
He prunes those who are producing fruit, but cuts away those who are not!
If the branches could speak they would confess that the pruning process hurts, but they would also rejoice that they will be able to produce more and better fruit.
Your heavenly Father is closer to you than ever before when you are in the pruning process.
Pruning does not simply mean spiritual surgery that removes what is bad. It can also mean cutting away the good and the better so that we might enjoy the best.
Yes, pruning hurts, but it also helps. We may not enjoy it, but we need it.
How does the Father prune us?
Sometimes He simply uses the Word to convict and cleanse us. (The word translated “purge” in John 15:2 is the same as “clean” in John 13:10.(Eph. 5:26–27)). Sometimes He must chasten us (Heb. 12:1–11).
At the time it hurts when He removes something precious from us; but as the “spiritual crop” is produced, we see that the Father knew what He was doing.
The more we abide in Christ, the more fruit we bear; and the more fruit we bear, the more the Father has to prune us so that the quality keeps up with the quantity.
Left to itself, the branch might produce many clusters, but they will be inferior in quality. God is glorified by a bigger crop that is also a better crop.
The other day As I drove up Highway 99 I saw countless vineyards, some ripe for harvest, some being prepped for pruning, some in the process of being pruned. I was instantly reminded that churches all over the world are in the same process!
We are all either being harvested (and growth is evident because fruit is everywhere), being pruned for greater work to be done in our lives, or we are being cut back and torn off because our time has come!
When I look at this text, God was pruning the disciples, he was removing some stuff from them because they would soon be needed to produce some fruit!
As Jesus got ready to go to Calvary, it was going to cause them great pain and sorrow. As he got ready to leave them their hearts were being filled with grief, but it had to happen so that they may be able (when the time was right) to produce the fruits of righteousness.
Here we see the critical reasoning for why the disciple must be pruned: if you don’t get pruned, you don’t produce! If you don’t get pruned you don’t have anything to offer and you don’t count in the equation of fruit producing!
The good disciple will want to obey and produce fruit! The only way for him or her to do this is to be pruned.
We are reminded of what our task is as His disciples. Jesus goes back to the allegory to make a point of understanding!
We are the branches that are connected to the vine; to be a branch in the vine means that we are united to Christ and share His life. To be a branch we must abide in Him, in doing so, His life flows through us and enables us to produce fruit.
But if we are unwilling to abide in Him, we cannot produce fruit!
The disciple that abides in Christ will have a love for the word and the word will constantly tell them about who God is and what God can do. By faith they will produce things to change people’s lives and by this they will bear much fruit!
As we close our text today, remember that the key to producing fruit is one’s relationship to the vine; to remain in the vine is to produce fruit and to remain close to the Christ!
I don’t know about you, but I need Him every day of my life! I can’t live without Him, He is the key to my universe.
I need Him to bless me, keep me, feed me and clothe me. I need Him to give me wisdom and understanding, to be my savior and friend.
I need Him to be my shepherd in the valley of death, to lead me beside still waters and anoint my head with oil. I need him to make a table for me in the presence of my enemies; I need to have His goodness and mercy follow me all the days of my life.
Just give me Jesus and I know that everything will be alright! Just give me Jesus and my needs will be met.
Give me the Jesus that was born of a virgin—the Jesus that declared that,
“I am the Son of God”!
The Jesus that did miracles, cured diseases and cast out devils. The Jesus that laid down His life so that I might live. Give me that Jesus!
He died, was Buried and rose again…Give me that Jesus!