Rays of light carefully crafted to pierce the darkness of any sorrow, the words of Jesus in John 15:1-3 are Brilliant and Strong. With the Almighty Patience of The Eternal God and the passionate brevity of a Man about to die, Jesus Christ encompasses the entirety of the disciple’s walk. Jesus speaks here only to believers. For them, these words are open doors. In the midst of the valley of the shadow of death, these verses are the rod and staff; they are a house where the disciple calmly rests as she walks with Jesus Christ. Those who go further without abiding here will only find themselves by coming back. Those who refuse to enter cannot go further. Only those who remain in these three verses can go forward with our Lord Jesus Christ.
These words are pillars. More sure than birth or death or taxes, these three verses stand. They are not a suggestion or a command. Yet like spiritual gravity, they anchor the believer to the narrow way while setting the rhythm of his steps. Yes, it is Jesus Christ Who sets these words together like precious stones on the signet ring of the once prodigal son. By saying John 15:1-2, the Faithful Son reveals to us the affairs of our Father. And when our nature seems to defile our great commission, John 15:3 reminds us that we are clean, we belong and we are loved.
Three verses. Three heralds loudly proclaiming, “The feast is ready. Only come to the table and taste and see the Goodness of The Lord.” Our inheritance awaits. The whole earth is waiting for these words to take root in us so that we may start producing the disciple’s fruit.
The True Vine
Before bearing fruit, the disciple must first be alive. “I am the true vine,” says Jesus. There are false vines, false prophets that exalt you as god so that you may worship them. There are also thick faithful branches which wind long and do much so that they appear to be true vines. Among this myriad of faithful witnesses are Moses, David and Elijah. And yet, they are not the true vine. Jesus Christ is the True Vine.
But there is more here. If you have ever seen a vine then this distinction Jesus makes between the vine and the branches seems odd. After all, where does the vine end so that the branches can begin? Where do you end so that your arm can begin? You might respond, “Although my arm is a part of me, I am not my arm and my arm is not me.” Aha. Like you and your arms, The Vine and the branches are one. Just as the Church is the Body of Jesus Christ, the branches are the body of The Vine Ephesians 4:15-16. However, just like you and your arms, the Church is not Jesus. The branches are not Divine. Jesus is the True Vine.
“I am the true vine,” says Jesus. He is neither a summation or collection of all the branches nor the emergent property of a complex system of branches. He Is Not just a Hebrew man who really knew the Torah. Yet, He looks like us, smells like us and the hem of His garment can be touched. To paraphrase brother Bonhoeffer in Christ The Center, “We are, through familiarity, tempted into contempt for Jesus.” Like those of His hometown we say, “He is just the carpenter’s son. He is just the best of us.” In other words, we live as if we are the vine and He is the branch. “Apart from us,” we say, “He can do nothing.”
The Power and The Glory
We behave this way because we are living by the demonic laws of worldly power. A worldly leader is the seasonal fruit of her people. Though she thinks herself powerful and independent, she is nothing more than an emergent property; a tower of babel expressing and shaping the collective will. Hence the demon, though many, was named legion Mark 5:9. Since she is a property of the people, she will change when the people change. And when the people leave her, the leader loses power and dies. So she clamors and begs and gives gifts and takes bribes to curry the favor of the influential people.
We tried to crown Jesus but He Refused John 6:15, Matthew 4:8-10. He Refused to produce worldly fruit. He refused to be our branch. So we warned Jesus Christ saying, “We are the vine and our father the devil is our vinedresser John 8:44. You are an unfruitful branch that will be cast away.” Fearing Only His Father, Jesus called Himself God and called us sinners. We thought Him just a man; an unfruitful carpenter’s son who could do nothing apart from us. So we hammered our will into the shape of a cross and crucified Him. The Eden echo of counterfeit gods crescendoed into desperate screams of, “Crucify him! Crucify him! We are the vine.” And like an unfruitful branch, the devil, our vinedresser, tried to cast Him away.
On the third day, He Rose from the dead.
No great prophet prayed for Him. Herod had killed the last one Matthew 11:11, Mark 6:25-28. His disciples had abandoned him to fish. Powerless with grief, his mother wept for Him. By His Arm, He fulfilled His Promise to lay down His Life and take it up again Isaiah 63:1-5, John 10:18, 2:19-21. God raised Him from the dead Acts 4:10. What mere man can die and raise himself up from the dead? Jesus is more than just a man. Jesus Christ, born of Mary through The Holy Spirit, is God and Man. He Is infinitely more and infinitely other than the best of us. He Is. Without us, He Is. And yet. And yet He Calls Himself The True Vine and us His Branches John 15:5. Therefore, both without us and humbly through us, He Is.
Worldly power emerges from the demonic will of the clamoring legion. The Power(Spirit) of God comes from God through Jesus Christ into His disciples who produce fruit.
Jesus is the True Vine. The world is a counterfeit vine beneath waterless clouds that barely produces mold ridden shriveled grapes. So far will the devil go to fake God’s True Vine that he raises up an antichrist Revelation 13:1-2, fakes a false resurrection Revelation 13:3-6, gives an ersatz commission Revelation 13:7-10, empowers false apostle(s) Revelation 13:11-15 2 Peter 2:1-3 and gathers an unholy body Revelation 13:16-18, 18:1-3. We have a choice to be branches of The True Vine of God or branches of the devil’s world. We can choose to be watered by pastors who gather and preach the Holy Word or by false prophets who are waterless clouds Jude 1:12.
Those who are fruitful in Jesus Christ are fruitless in the world. Those who are fruitless in the world are cut off and cast away from the world Hebrews 11:35-38, Revelations 13:7-10. But this is a blessing and far preferable to being the offspring of this filthy, crooked generation. Babylon is built on the blood of the saints Revelations 18:24, 17:6. Shall I rejoice in Babylon? Shall I prefer to be called a son of pharaoh’s daughter? No. This is why disciples rejoice when they are persecuted for serving God Acts 5:41, Matthew 5:10-12 1 Peter 2:20. Only the fruitful in Christ are cut off from the world, those who are not fruitful in Jesus Christ will be embraced in the world. Those who are fruitful in the world are fruitless in Jesus Christ. They will be cut off and cast away to burn in hell along with the devil, his waterless clouds and the world Revelation 20:9-10.
“I am the True Vine,” says Jesus Christ. This is the entirety of Christianity. This is the end of world. By believing and living this Word of Jesus Christ, the disciple dies into life. And only living branches can bear fruit.