John 15:1-11 JESUS is the TRUE VINE and We are the Branches

15 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also 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 you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 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. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.

 

          Let’s try to set this passage in its context. That will help us to understand what Jesus is teaching to His disciples. This exchange takes place just after the Last Supper where Jesus has informed the disciples that He would be leaving them, and they couldn’t come with Him at this time. He had also told them that they would continue on with His ministry.

          As they were walking towards the Garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus would be betrayed by one of His own into the hands of the authorities. The disciples were probably wondering, ‘How can we follow in His footsteps? How can we do the things He has been doing? Maybe they were becoming more and more anxious about a future without Jesus.

          Perhaps Jesus sensed the increasing levels of anxiety in the hearts and minds of His disciples. So, he stops along the way and reaches out and takes a vine in his hand. He then uses this to teach His disciples a lesson about the most important relationship they have. The relationship they have is the one that is with Jesus and His Father. The disciples, who were probably worried about the future and what was expected of them needed to hear this teaching, at this time.

          This teaching also has relevance to us even though we are living almost 2,000 years after that night. We see the work of the Lord continuing even today as God uses Christ’s followers to accomplish His will in the world. Some of you sitting here this morning are probably wondering the same thing as the disciples almost 2,000 years ago. Well, you don’t need to wonder any longer because this passage is all about what it means to become a true disciple of Jesus. As we consider what this passage teaches, and how it pictures Jesus as the TRUE VINE, we will discover how we can become more like Him.

          Let’s begin by looking at verses 1-3 where we are introduced to the True Vine. What do these 3 verses reveal to us about the ‘True Vine’? First, as with other parts of the Bible, in verse 1, Jesus proclaims that he is the genuine thing. He is the true source of all life and meaning and therefore, by implication, all others are counterfeits. In this same verse, Jesus reveals that His Father is the gardener, other versions refer to Him the “husbandman” or the “vine dresser”. The heavenly Father is the one responsible for looking after and caring for the vine.

          As we continue on into verse 2 one the thing, we should note right away is the phrase “in me”. We will find this phrase throughout this passage. Here, in verse 2, Jesus is speaking about two types of disciples. Living disciples and dead ones. Dead disciples are those who just claim to know Him but live lives of unrepentant sin. We also see that the ‘gardener’ is engaged with everything that involves the vine. His involvement takes place in two distinct ways: Those branches, those disciples, that bear no fruit He cuts off. Those disciples who are bearing fruit, (and by fruit, he means the fruit of the Spirit as defined in Galatians 5:22), he prunes so that they can be even more fruitful.

          The gardener prunes by removing things from the branch that suck its strength, anything that consumes energy but doesn’t produce any fruit. Pruning sounds painful, doesn’t it. But it is very necessary even in our own lives. When we allow things into our lives that get in the way of our Christian walk, we are in danger of being pruned. It is difficult to get rid of the things in our lives which are not productive, but if we don’t do it then God will. *Hebrews 12:1, reminds us of our responsibility, Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us”

            The last thing I want us to understand from these first three verses is the thing that God uses to carry out this cleansing in our lives. In verse 3 it is revealed that He uses His Word. *In James 1:23-24 we are told it is like a mirror that reveals our problems as it tells us “Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like”. *In Hebrews 4:12 we are told that, “the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged swordit penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart”.

          Let me ask you this question today. Has the Lord been speaking to you through His Word? If He has, have you been listening? I want to encourage you to allow your life to be pruned by His Word. If you don’t then He will take more drastic measures.

            As we continue on into the next section (verses 4-7) we learn, in verse 4, that the production of fruit is the only purpose for which the vine exists. Producing fruit is what brings glory to God. When grapes are harvested in the vineyard who gets the credit? The vine, the branches, the soil, the fruit itself. No, none of these things gets the credit. All the glory goes to the gardener. It is the same with the Lord Jesus, His one singular focus was and is to glorify His Father.

          This also should be the aspiration of all true Christians. We should want to live our lives in such a way that at any given time we are bringing Glory to our Father in Heaven. This is what we are encouraged to do in *1 Corinthians 10:31, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God”. In fact, we can say that there is something wrong in any life that does not want to give glory and honor to the God who loves us, supports us, and cares for us at all times.

          We should also make note of the truth here that the Vine itself does not have the responsibility to bear the fruit. That is the obligation of the branches. The Vine gives life to the branches and then they take that life and bear fruit with it.

          There are several implications to this truth that we should pay special attention to. First is that the branch, the disciple, must remain attached to the Vine. If you are not attached to the Vine, then there is no way for you to receive life from the Vine. The very essential and necessary relationship between the believer and the Lord Jesus is what is pictured here.

          The second implication is given as we find the term “in me” again. Only this time it is used to describe this very close relationship between the believer and the Lord Jesus. From our side, this relationship is only maintained as we “remainin Him. How do we remain in Him? Through prayer, studying His Word, denying yourself, staying close to Him.

          We will discover that the closer we remain to the Vine the more His life flows through us and the more fruit we produce. Now we know why so many Christians live unproductive and fruitless lives. I wonder, how would you describe your life today? Could you say that you are in a close relationship with Jesus and that it is growing closer each day? Well, that is the expectation for every Christian.

          The third and final implication is that the production of the fruit is a passive activity on our part. If we, as branches, simply remain in the Vine then the Vine will definitely produce the fruit. This truth, that all we need to do is remain, is wonderfully freeing. This means it is the Vine’s responsibility to produce His fruit in my life. I no longer feel the pressure to work and labor for His approval.

          Of course, you would not be paying attention if by verse 5 you hadn’t realized that this word ‘fruit’ is also found throughout this passage. So, what are we talking about, what do we mean? When our lives produce fruit what will be the result? And of course, the question we all want to ask, how will we know if we are producing fruit?.

          As I already mentioned earlier the ‘fruit’ is defined in *Galatians 5:22-23 as, “love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. The value of the fruit, its worth, is not the branches responsibility. If we remain in the Vine and His life is being copied in us, then we can take comfort knowing the fruit that is being produced is honouring God.

          Also, how much fruit is produced is not the concern of the branch. The quantity will depend on the will of the Vine. Again, our responsibility is simply to remain in Him. However, notice the steady growth from verse 2 to 8, no fruit, fruit, more fruit, and eventually much fruit.  God does expect there to be a steady growth in the amount of our fruitfulness. Again, the closer we remain to the Vine the more fruit we will produce in our lives.

          Unfortunately, verse 6 reminds us that not every branch is connected to the Vine. People who claim to be Christians but do not show any evidence of His life flowing through them will be cut off, gathered up, and burned. This warning in verse 6 is meant to be taken seriously.

          There is clear unmistakable evidence that the living God resides in you. When He does live in you, He makes His presence known. In other words, God does not play hide and seek with His children. God doesn’t come and go, and he doesn’t hide. If there is no fruit, then God is not there. If God is not there, then you are not His child, and the fire is waiting for you.

          Does God live in you? Your fruit will prove that you are a disciple and your lack of fruit also proves something. A fruitless disciple is no disciple at all. Now, this does not mean that believers cannot and will not experience times of little or even no growth at all during their life and it has been my experience that this condition can stretch to be years long. But over the course of the life, we need to see the evidence of Jesus’ life at work in them. This evidence will be the fruit that they produce.

          For those of us who do remain in the True Vine, we can be confident of a few sure promises. These real assurances are found in the last section of our passage from verse 7 through to verse 11.

          The first sure promise we find is in verse 7, where we are told we will have the experience of a full, unobstructed prayer life. This will be the case because, when we are remaining in Him and living a life that is based on His strength then His Will will be our will. This means that everything we pray for will fit in perfectly with His will and He will grant our requests. This is the clear teaching of John 14: 13-14, And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it”.

         In verse 9 the sure promise is the unending love of Jesus. Now of course we know that Jesus loves all people but those who remain in Him experience a special, relationship with Him. This relationship is characterised with an ever-growing love that is deep and real. As verse 9 tells us this is the special promise of the Vine to the branches.

          The most exciting promise is found in verse 11. If we remain in Jesus through the activities I mentioned previously; prayer, studying His Word, denying ourselves, staying close to Him, then we will experience a special joy. Now, this joy is not just happiness which depends on our circumstances. This joy is a deep inner pleasure that comes because we are confident in our relationship with the Father and His Son. 

          There are a few things we should note about this type of joy. So, that we don’t try to manufacture it, or get fooled by others who say they know how to get it a different way or some who will say we have it when we don’t. This joy comes only from God and is absolutely not dependent upon our earthly possessions or desires.

          We will also know this type of joy because we will experience it even while we are going through difficult times. Again, because it is not just a happy feeling, but it is a deep confidence and assurance that God is with us. This joy comes as a result of faith. This means that when we are confident and assured of our position in Christ then joy is the obvious and only result. Lastly, this joy will be the source of an ever-increasing faithfulness in God. Nehemiah 8:10 reminds us of this, “Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.

          So, let me summarize this message is just one sentence: Jesus is the True Vine who wants to live in you, and through you, so that, the fruit that is produced in your life of discipleship will ultimately bring glory to God.

So here are a few questions you should ask yourself today…

Are you “in Him”? Have you ever been saved and grafted into the True Vine?

Are you “remaining in the Vine”? So that, by His life-giving strength fruit is being produced through your life.

Are you producing fruit these days? I am asking if God has revealed any areas of your life that need to be pruned today? If there are then I want to challenge you to come and let Jesus handle your needs.

          If you have never been saved then please go to Pastor Stanley, Rev. Ikoba, me, or either of the pastor Parks and let us show you how you can be placed into the Vine and become a child of God.

          Let’s pray, Father God may your holy Word encourage or convict those you have called to Yourself. Help those of us who have life through the True Vine, remain in Him and draw the strength necessary to live the life that is pleasing to You because it gives all the glory to you. And most of all Lord if there are any here today who have heard your call through Your Word then let them be fully convicted that, “now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation. We pray through the Almighty name of Jesus, Amen.