Thursday 29 April 2021


John 15 v1/8

It is the last night before His death and Jesus is giving instructions to stress the absolute necessity of a close relationship between Him and us. To do this He uses the illustration of a vine and its branches.

Jesus often used scenes which were from Jewish heritage. Israel is portrayed as the vineyard, and one of the glories of the Temple was the great golden vine with clusters of grapes placed in front of the Holy place. This is taken from the story of Moses, receiving clusters of grapes from spies he had sent out to view the land of Canaan. 

In the words, "I am the true vine," Jesus is saying that he is the true vine of which the nation was a symbol,

"My Father," Jesus declares, "is the gardener." the gardener who takes care of the vineyard. Jesus states that believers are the branches of the vine: "I am the vine, you are the branches There are two kinds of branches -- fruitless branches and fruitful branches, teaching there is a clear indication that there are two kinds of believers. The difference between them is whether they produce fruit or not

Jesus said He was the true vine and the Jews could not claim that just because they were Jews, they were a branch of the vine. It had to be understood He was the vine, not the land of Israel, for only He could offer salvation, and the only means of having that was to have a belief in Him. Only a personal relationship with Jesus can make a person right with God. 

The vine grew wildly but needed much attention. The vine needed much pruning, and so was cut drastically for without that the vine would not produce good fruit. Jesus knew His followers were like that. Some were fruit bearing, but others were like the dead branches. In His teaching Jesus saw the Jews as the branches of the vine as did all the prophets, but the people would not accept Jesus. He also knew that one day people claiming to be Christians would hear His teaching, profess to follow Him, but in practice would not. 

  The vine gets its strength and fertility from the stem, and apart from that the branch has no life of its own. Sap flows from the stem to the leaves and blossoms the fruit, and if cut off would die. 

When we link that with what we have in the New Testament, it is clear that the fruit which Jesus is referring to here is Christlikeness -- his character reproduced in us.

In Verse 4, Jesus takes up the first requirement, "Abide in me and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.".

 He who abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing." That does not mean you are unable to function. You can do many things without a dependence on Christ. You can raise a family without him. You can run a business without him. You can be very active, even as a Christian. You can fill your days with tremendous activity and busyness, but without dependence

Some Christians emphasize dependence. They don't bother themselves with discipline. They never read the Bible. They expect God to speak to them, and go into what I have sometimes described as "automatic pilot." They float around expecting God to do all the directing, open all the doors, and they seldom bother to deny themselves. That kind of dependence without discipline results in frothiness, in empty spirituality, a fraudulent piety that sounds good, but is very distasteful when you get close to it.

Then Verse 8:

Here is a life of glorifying witness. I am sure there are a hundred or more people here who could testily that they became Christians because they saw a dramatic change in the life of someone else. That is the impact of a fruitful life.

The relationship between Jesus and the believer has to be just as close and real for we have no spiritual life, all the power comes from Him; we draw our strength from the Lord. We are assured of our salvation and our place in heaven when we remained joined to Him. The non-believer may scorn and mock us for resting our faith from stories in an old Jewish book written many years ago, but will one day regret such ridicule and envy our place.

It has to be accepted as fact, that there are many men and women professing to be Christians who are not what they claim to be. They are like branches of the vine which bear no fruit. In every Church there are people whose relationship is more make believe than real. They have been baptised, confirmed and even hold office within the Church, even are clergy ranging from the highest clerical positions to people in the pews. They may make much profession, and as we are regularly reading and hearing, do not accept the authority of Scripture. 

We even find Bishops increasingly tolerant of immoral behaviour which contradicts the Bible, and who prefer to adopt the philosophy of society and say things have changed now we are in the 21st century. God was not just a God of the first century, His Word endures for all times. Well has it been said that the spirit of the age has invaded the Church, and infected it. If people wish to reject the contents of the Bible that is their choice, but will one day regret such decision. 

To have a casual relationship with Jesus is like being a non- fruit bearing branch of the vine, you produce nothing and give nothing. There are many instances of a young person who leaves home and falls into bad ways, because he/she has separated from the family. As long as they are with the family, they are strong and cared for, but when they break away they fall. Having a relationship with Jesus provides the strength to meet the problems of life and prevents one from falling into the ways of the unjust. And you need constant attachment just like the branches of the vine.

This passage shows the offer Jesus makes to help them become more worthy and better Christians. If we abide in Him and His teaching we can ask and seek

an answer. Be therefore in close communion with Jesus, lean on Him, and keep His words in your mind so that they will be the guide of your life.

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