“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. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also 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.”
Preachers down through the centuries have used today’s passage to illustrate how important it is for the branches to remain in the vine. That is, for believers to remain attached to Jesus. Without the vine the branches have no source of sustenance and therefore could produce no fruit.
It is believed by many commentators that the context here occurs almost immediately after the last supper when Jesus instituted the Table of the Lord (Eucharist or Lord’s Supper). The fact that there were many vineyards, thus many vines, is attested to in both the scriptures and in ancient history. It is likely that Jesus was referring to an actual vine in a vineyard to illustrate the connection between Himself and His followers. More than that, He emphasizes how important it was for them to remain with Him.
All branches draw their life from the vine to which they are attached or to the tree trunk from which they grow. Without that connection the life cannot flow from the roots to the branches. It is true that the branches bear the fruit but in a larger sense this could not happen without the vine of which they are a part.
“The True Vine” indicates that this is a domesticated/tended vine and not a wild vine. It has a purpose in the mind of the husbandman (God the Father). When I was growing up on a farm in upstate New York we could find wild vines growing in the woods. They simply covered the trees and most were too high up for my brothers and I to reach the fruit. Besides that, the fruit (grapes) were too small to be of much good. Occasionally, we could pick enough grapes that our grandmother could make grape jelly but usually the quality of the grapes was too poor for that to happen. These were not tended vines by any means. Later in life I found that there were vineyards, mostly in the Finger Lakes Region of New York State, and even had opportunity to see some of them. What a difference in the fruit between the wild and tended vines.
How hard do you work at being part of the True Vine? To put it another way, how well connected are you to Jesus? Are you allowing the Father to prune and improve you to produce good fruit? Jesus as the True Vine is the only source of spiritual life for all of us. Stay connected and focused as part of the vine.
“Christmas–that magic blanket that wraps itself about us, that something so intangible that it is like a fragrance. It may weave a spell of nostalgia. Christmas may be a day of feasting, or of prayer, but always it will be a day of remembrance–a day in which we think of everything we have ever loved.”
~ Augusta E. Rundell