Jesus Is the True Vine!
O Lord God, You have graciously brought me into Your kingdom, having created faith within my heart—faith in Your dear Son, Jesus! By faith You have connected me to Your Son, even as a branch is connected to a vine. Through His power You enable me to honor You through my words and actions. As I enter Your presence this day accept my prayers and praises and instruct me in the way You would have me go. Grant these petitions, O Lord, in Jesus’ saving name. Amen.
God’s Word is so very precious, because through it God reveals to us His truths and bestows upon us His wisdom! Seek that wisdom diligently through a regular study of the Word, and you will find that you will be richly blessed!
God gives us wisdom through His Word not to please ourselves, but rather to put us in the position to bless others. May God move us all to strive to build others up in their faith, so that we all with one mind and mouth may glorify our Savior God!
Text: John 15:1-8
“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. 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. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.”
In Christ Jesus, our Source of life and hope, dear fellow redeemed:
The Gospel of John is a powerful book in our Bible. Its purpose is to reveal that Jesus Christ is “the Son of God” and, therefore, our only Savior from sin, death, Satan, and hell. Its promise is to assure us that by believing in Jesus Christ as our Savior you gain both spiritual and eternal life (John 20:30-31). Central to John’s presentation are the seven “I AM” statements of Jesus. Through these statements Jesus connects Himself directly to the LORD God, who appeared to Moses in the burning bush and identified Himself as “I AM WHO I AM” (Exodus 3:14). Jesus tells us: “I am the bread of life” (cf. John 6:35); “I am the light of the world” (cf. John 8:12); “I am the door for the sheep” (cf. John 10:7); “I am the good shepherd” (cf. John 10:11); “I am the resurrection and the life” (cf. John 11:25); and “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (cf. John 14:6). Finally, in our text for today Jesus says, “I am the true vine!”
Through His “I AM” statements Jesus vividly reveals His importance for us, and in this final statement describes the vital nature of His relationship with us, for as branches are tied directly to and completely dependent upon the vine, so we are directly tied to Jesus by faith and completely dependent upon Him for the present life we live and the future life we have been promised. Let us, therefore, focus our attention today upon the meaning this truth has for us, that JESUS IS THE TRUE VINE! My dear friends, let us ever abide in Him! Indeed, let us never be separated from Him!
Yes, let us ever abide in Jesus—the true Vine! How do we do that? How do we “abide” in Jesus? Jesus, who uses the word “abide” seven times in our text, states very clearly here and elsewhere in John’s Gospel that our abiding in Him is tied directly to our use of His Word. Here in our text Jesus makes that connection when He says, “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you….” Earlier in the Gospel of John Jesus says this: “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed, and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31-32). God’s Word is the means by which the Holy Spirit creates faith within our hearts. To the Roman Christians the apostle Paul wrote, “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). God’s Word reveals the truth about each of us by nature. We are by nature lost and condemned creatures—lost in our sin and were it not for the grace of God condemned to die eternally. The Bible informs us that “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23), and that “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). Even now, as God’s children, the Bible reveals that we are plagued by our old sinful flesh, which continues to cause us great distress as it misleads us regularly into sin and shame. Yet, God’s Word also reveals His grace and mercy over against us. God, against whom we rebel, does not give up on us. Rather, He sent Jesus to become one of us, so that He might save us by becoming our Substitute. The Bible tells us that “through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation,” but it also tells us the glorious news that “through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life” (Romans 5:18). Jesus both lived a perfect life in our place and then suffered an innocent death on our behalf, so that we might be declared righteous by God, our heavenly Father. By faith we obtain both the righteousness of Christ and the forgiveness of sins. By faith we are connected to Jesus and the Bible informs us that through baptism we are united with Him both in His death and His resurrection. By faith we become the branches of Jesus, who is the true Vine!
But why should we want to abide in Jesus and His Word? He provides a three-fold answer in our text. First of all, He makes this marvelous statement: “You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.” The precious Gospel message of forgiveness for Jesus’ sake cleanses us. Let us only believe that message and then abide in it! The prophet Isaiah looking ahead to Jesus’ work of redemption cried out to the people of his day: “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool” (1:18). John, in his first epistle, assures us: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). Make no mistake and be under no illusion—sin is a serious matter. Sin separates us from God and so should never be taken lightly. As believing children of God, however, as branches connected by faith to our Vine Jesus, we can stand with confidence before our God—not because of our own attempts at good works, but rather because we are already clean in view of the cleansing blood of Jesus! Therein lies our source of certainty and confidence in our relationship with God!
Secondly, we will want ever to abide in Jesus, because when we abide in Jesus we are enabled by Him and His presence to accomplish the many things He has planned for our lives. Jesus says, “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit.” The success of our lives as Christians in this world is completely tied to our connection with Jesus. In Him we live and move and have our being (cf. Acts 17:28). Through Him we can do all things (cf. Philippians 4:13). Therefore, let us turn to Him, depend upon Him, seek His guidance, His intervention, and His power, for then we will bear much fruit! When we bear that fruit, however, Jesus says our heavenly Father may well prune us, so that we bear even more.
This past Friday morning in our Men’s Bible Study we considered the situation of Israel leaving Egypt, who became trapped by Pharaoh’s army on the shores of the Red Sea. God was pruning His people and permitted them to be placed in a dire situation to which there seemed to be no solution. Yet, Moses encouraged the people to look to the Lord for deliverance, and that is exactly what the Lord provided. He divided the Red Sea and led His people through it, while using it to destroy the very enemies which only hours before seemed undefeatable. When we branches remain connected to the vine, we too will be able to overcome seemingly impossible challenges in view of Christ’s presence and power in our lives.
Thirdly, we will want ever to abide in Jesus, because He promises: “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.” Consider what God did for Israel at the Red Sea. Consider what Jesus did for the Ten Lepers, or the centurion’s servant, or blind Bartimaeus, or His dear friend Lazarus. Jesus possesses all authority in heaven and on earth (cf. Matthew 28:18). He is sitting at God’s right hand watching over us to guard, protect, and provide for us (cf. Ephesians 1:20-22). Let us seek only and ever to abide in Him and His Word, for then we will be fruitful disciples whose every word and action will serve to glorify our gracious heavenly Father! Yes, JESUS IS THE TRUE VINE! Let us ever abide in Him!
Let us never be separated from Him! Just as Jesus provides a three-fold answer as to why we will want ever to abide in Him, so He provides a three-fold answer why we will never want to be separated from Him! First of all, He reminds us, “The branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me… without Me you can do nothing.” Jesus’ thought is true in two senses. In the first sense, if Jesus were to withdraw His life-giving power from anyone—believer or unbeliever—that individual would cease to exist. He or she would simply die. The universe in which we live is completely dependent upon Jesus’ sustaining power. That is why the Scriptures can reveal with such certainty that this world will one day end (cf. 2 Peter 3). In the second sense, however, Jesus is here stating what is stated elsewhere in Scripture in this way: “Without faith it is impossible to please God” (Hebrews 11:6). We can do nothing of any worth in God’s eyes apart from faith in our Savior. Just as a branch cut off from the life-flowing juices of the vine will not produce grapes, so were we ever to be separated from Christ we could not produce fruit pleasing to God.
Secondly, Jesus reminds us that just as a branch cut off from the vine withers, dries up, and becomes useless, so any believer separated from his Savior will wither, dry up, and become useless to God and His kingdom. Jesus issues a similar warning in His parable of the Sower and the Seed. For many the seed of the Word simply goes in one ear and out the other, or it is abandoned in the midst of the struggles, sorrows, and disappointments of life, or it is choked by the cares and pleasures of this world. Irrespective of how it happens, when we are separated from Jesus, death is inevitable—spiritual death here in this world, followed by eternal death throughout eternity.
That thought, is Jesus’ third reason why we will never want to be separated from Jesus. Jesus tells us: “Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away…. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out…and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.” My dear friends, this life is not all there is! This life is but the mere beginning of our eternal existence. Where do you and I want to spend eternity? Do we want to spend eternity connected to Jesus—enjoying His presence and living forever in God’s new heaven and earth (cf. 2 Peter 3:13), or do we want to spend eternity separated from Jesus in the fires of hell? There are only two alternatives for any one of our futures! Let us not deceive ourselves into thinking otherwise! The Scriptures are clear!
Consequently, my dear friends, when Jesus lovingly comes to us and says: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me” (Revelation 3:20), let us respond in faith and with love! JESUS IS THE TRUE VINE! By the grace of God we are His branches, grafted in by the Holy Spirit and receiving the life-giving and fruit-producing power of the Gospel. Let us never be separated from Him! To turn away from Jesus Christ—the Son of God and our only Savior would be the height of foolishness. Rather, let us ever abide in Him by both hearing and heeding His precious Word! Amen!
—Pastor Paul D. Nolting
Soli Gloria Deo!