THE NATION OF ISRAEL CONSIDERED ITSELF to be the vine that God had planted.
We are told in Psalm 80 that God had brought this vine out of Egypt, had
made room for it, by casting out the nations in the promised land, and
planted it. In turn it took deep root, grew and expanded until its boughs
were like goodly cedars and it filled the land.
In spite of this things changed and the vine was wasted and destroyed.
This was clearly true of the nation and it was the desire of every godly Jew
that God would visit this vine in restoration - ‘turn us again, cause thy face
to shine and we shall be saved’. Individuals looked for and longed for the
day that the glory of the nation would be in evidence as before. However,
it was not at this time God’s plan to restore something old, but to introduce
something entirely new.
The True Vine
Thus, when the Lord Jesus talked to His disciples He made an
announcement which was revolutionary- He said ‘I am the true vine’. The
clear implication of this message was that He was the vine and not the
nation. Further, He was the genuine vine, all before had been but shadows.
The suggestion is made here that all in this passage is genuine. There is
nothing false – we are dealing with true believers. How good to understand
and appreciate that the Lord Jesus is the vine. The vine itself is prolific in its
fruit-bearing and it is significant that this plant is chosen to signify the
abundant blessings and fruit that should flow from an association with
In the old way of things the nation had ‘husbandmen’ to look after its
interests – Pharisees and other leaders. However, many of them were false
and self-interested. They stoned, beat and killed the prophets that God
sent to them and they allowed, through irresponsibility, the nation to fall
into decline. However, in the new situation Christ says ‘my Father is the
husbandman’. Here too is something new. There will be no irresponsibility
here – this vine will be well looked after and its branches and fruit guarded
by the divine hand.
We note in verse 2 that the Lord speaks of ‘every branch in me’. All
branches are the same and are treated the same, and every branch is ‘in
Him’, thus indicating eternal security for each genuine believer.
Some teach that there are two kinds of branches – those that do not bear
fruit and those that do. There is essentially only one kind of branch, which
is treated in different ways depending on the circumstances.
If a branch does not bear fruit it is ‘taken away’. The words ‘taken away'
can also be translated ‘lifted up’. The branches of the vine need to be
supported, lifted up to the sun, to rays and warmth in order that growth
and fruit-bearing might be encouraged. Vines normally do not bear fruit
until the third year after planting. It is the ministry of the divine
Husbandman to take fruitless branches and lift them up to the warmth of
fellowship with Himself and to the sunshine of His face. He is not likely to
take them away – He is likely to encourage them to bear fruit by help and
support, and by lifting up the hearts of His people through the ministry of
When branches eventually do bear fruit He purges them that they may
bear more fruit. This purging is a pruning and cleansing and is effected not
so lunch through the natural disasters that happen to saved and unsaved
alike, but through the discerning ministry of the word and its cleansing
effect. We need to be aware of this and to apply the word to our own hearts
and consciences to enable us to bear more fruit.
As mentioned earlier the grapes grow prolifically on the vine. In fact, so
much fruit is borne that the vine branches need constant supporting. The
fruit is sweet and immensely enjoyable. The fruit that believers enjoy
comes through the sap and energy of the vine – it is sourced in the Lord
Himself. During the fruit-bearing the branch needs support and the believer
needs the support of the Lord, the Word, prayer and fellowship of other
believers. The fruit he may bear is wide-ranging, – love, joy, peace, long
suffering, meekness, gentleness, worship, praise etc. In all these things God
is glorified and much blessing ensues.
There is a danger that the branches will wither away. It may be that the
prime reason assemblies and individuals are not prospering spiritually is
because the individuals are withered. They are still part of the vine but the
energy, power and enthusiasm for the things of the Lord are lost. When
this happens men of the world (not the Husbandman) gather up withered
branches and burn them. This may happen in spite of previous blessing
and fruit-bearing. The blessing is lost, the testimony destroyed and the
work ceases. We need to be on our guard against withering influences that
will take away from Christ.
Without Him, we can do nothing. If we do abide, continue in Him, then
there are two results - 1) His joy in us remains; and 2) our joy is full.
Let us therefore determine that we should bear fruit; let us abide in Him;
let our joy be full; let His joy in us remain. At the same time as we
endeavour to bear much fruit we should be aware of the possibility of
losing interest and energy in the things of the Lord, and thus debilitating
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