The Vine and the Branches

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I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. John 15v5 in the Old Testament, the nation of Israel is frequently likened to a vine or a vineyard. Isaiah 5 tells the story of how the Gardener plants the vine, builds a watchtower and digs a winepress.

He takes great care to nurture the vine, but when it comes to the harvest it yields only bad fruit. The parable captures the story of Israel: they were a nation set apart by God and given His law so that through their obedience they might display God’s glory and be a light to all the nations of the earth.

Yet, despite all their spiritual privileges, they failed in this vocation and bore only bad fruit. Thus, when Jesus announces “I am the true vine” (John 15v1), the implication is that He is everything that Israel should have been but failed to be: He was the light of the world (John 9v35), who lived in perfect obedience to His Father’s will, and in whom the Father’s glory is spectacularly revealed.

Amazingly, however, Jesus goes on to liken His followers to the vine’s branches. As long as these branches remain attached to the vine its life flows through them, enabling them to produce fruit.

This yields two simple lessons. First, it reminds us that God’s desire is that we bear the fruit of Christ-like character, which is elsewhere described as the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5). Second, however, we must realise that we cannot bear fruit apart from our union and relationship with Jesus, for its only as we cleave to Him in faith that His life-giving, transforming power flows into our lives, helping us to become more like Christ and to reflect His light and glory to the world. May we therefore abide in Jesus as the key to a fruitful life!

Bryan Marx
Grahamstown Baptist Church

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