LENT 2023 - Jesus Said: I Am The True Vine, Part III
Friday March 17, 2023
If you have not done so yet, I invite you to read
LENT 2023 - JESUS SAID: I AM THE TRUE VINE, PART I
and LENT 2023 - JESUS SAID: I AM THE TRUE VINE, PART II
before continuing to read here...
“I AM THE TRUE VINE,
and my Father is the gardener…
Remain in me, and I will 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.
I AM THE VINE;
you are the branches.
If a man reamins in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit;
apart from me you can do nothing…
This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit,
showing yourselves to be my disciples.
As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you.
Now remain in my love.
If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love,
just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love.
I have told you this so that my joy may be in you
and that your joy may be complete.
My command is this:
Love each other as I have loved you.
Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends…
You did not choose me, but I chose you
and appointed you to go and bear fruit -
fruit that will last.”
(John 15: 1, 4-5, 8-13, 16)
So why would Jesus say that He is the vine? Why is the vine so important, if it is the branches that bear the fruit?
“Picture the place where ancient trunk meets vigorous branch. Here is the touch point, the place where abiding happens. Here is the connection where life-giving nutrients in the sap flow through to the developing fruit. The only limitation on the amount of sap that goes to the fruit is the circumference of the branch where it meets the vine. That means that the branch with the largest, least-obstructed connection with the vine is abiding the most and will have the greatest potential for a huge crop.” (pg.95)
In John 15, in the space of six verses, Jesus uses some form of the verb “remain” ten times. In other Bible translations, the word “abide” is used. The idea is to “live” - to “dwell” - to “endure” and to “persevere”. Just as a branch must stay vitally, completely and constantly connected to the vine in order for a maximum amount of life-giving nutrients to flow from the one to the other, so we as branches need to be vitally, completely and constantly connected to Jesus in order for His fruit-producing life to flow into us. As He Himself said: “No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in Me.” (v.4) In fact, if we abide in Him as He commands, we will bear much fruit - and if we don’t, “apart from Me you can do nothing”. (v.5)
We are told to remain in Him. We are urged to abide in His Word, so that His words also abide in us. We are entreated to remain in His love. Our abiding in Him has to do with being obedient to His commands. Our remaining in Him is often a loving and sacrificial laying down of our very lives for others.
And the end result of this “remaining” and this “abiding” in Jesus, the true Vine?
- the blessing of Jesus’ constant and never-ending presence within us: “Remain in me, and I will remain in you.” (v.4)
- much fruit to God’s glory: “This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” (v.8)
- the gift of being loved by Jesus as the Father loves Him: “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you.” (v.9)
- fullness of joy: “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” (v.11)
- knowing that we have been chosen and appointed by Jesus to bear lasting fruit: “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit - fruit that will last.” (v.16)
The illustrious John Piper once prayed:
let me make a difference for You
that is utterly disproportionate to who I am.”
“This is a prayer that the so-called nobodies in the world can pray without fear of presumption. The prayer contains a disclaimer: “I am not great. But you, Lord, are very great. And in your astonishing sovereignty you can let my little life make a difference far beyond all my little powers.” (www.desiringgod.org/articles/making-a-difference-by-fire)
And that is what bearing fruit in God’s vineyard is all about. Because, when all is said and done, I am just a simple, lifeless and powerless branch, which - if not intimately connected to Jesus the true life-giving vine - will never ever be able to produce a single grape. Bearing any fruit at all, let alone much fruit, and fruit that will last, will ever and only happen disproportionate to who I am - and completely proportionate to the amazing grace of Jesus’ fruit-producing life in me.
"The True Vine" -
an original painting by Marg Lameneau from Arnprior, Ontario in Canada+ REFLECTIONS