Sunday, August 31, 2014

The True Vine

John 15:1-6

I am the true vine, and My Father is the vine dresser. 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.

Ouch. A word for us all. On one hand a wonderful word; on the other, not so good.

Jesus says He's the true vine. He used a lot of illustrations people would understand because of the culture back then. He spoke what the people would understand, to their occupations. He spoke of sheep and shepherds; sowing, reaping; fishing; landowners...and more.

Anyone familiar with growing grapes for wine would understand this. Even a gardener would understand. In order to produce a good crop or good plant or multiple flowers, pruning must be done. It all starts with one main, healthy vine. If branch growth from that vine is to remain healthy, all dead or weaker branches must be removed so the stronger, healthier ones can grow and produce the desired crop. Think about this next time you are working in your garden!

Jesus starts out by saying that these disciples of His are already clean because of the word He has spoken. Remember, He had been with them for three years teaching them His words. They had been abiding in Him. They had received Him, followed Him, obeyed. Almost all of them would go on to bear more fruit.

Jesus says that He is that main vine. It all begins with Him. And we choose to abide in Him as one of the branches or we do not. We hear His words and are made clean (the washing of the Word...Ephesians 5:6), even bear fruit, or we do not. He knows! He knows who He needs to prune, or who He needs to cut completely off. Each of us needs pruning in our walk with Him. I definitely do!

His idea of bearing fruit is not so much the things in the world, but what we are doing to show Him to others. We do not bear fruit in our work, hobbies, friends...unless through these things He is known. Do people hear about Him or know that we are part of that true vine? That is true bearing of fruit.

He says we can do nothing without Him. If we rely on self or others, or money, status, He is not the true vine. We are branches about to be cut off if we do not look to Him. Judas, the disciple who betrayed Jesus, was a branch utterly cut off. He was with Him for three years, heard His words, but in the end was a withered branch.

Here's the scariest, true part...the words remind me of what we have been told will happen if we do not seek the Lord. In Him, and only Him, is eternal life. (There is an afterlife for all of us.) But we must first recognize Him as that vine and become one of His branches that abides in Him. We do not have eternal life without HIM, despite the doctrine of other religions. It's not about the good we do in this life. He must be the center of it all...the main vine.

Without Him we will be cut off and thrown in the fire. It's reminiscent of the scriptures:
And He said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son. But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” (‭Revelation‬ ‭21‬:‭6-8‬)

He is the true Vine...the Alpha and Omega, Beginning and the End, the holder of eternal life. He created our beginning. Will He be our End? We are ALL guilty of one or more, maybe all, of the sins listed above and deserving of eternal death, that lake of fire. But the good news is: He IS the Good News! He has come to seek and save the lost, which we all are, like those lost sheep He talks about. Lost until we enter by the Door to come into relationship with Him, the True Vine.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (‭John 3:16,3‬)

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