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I AM THE TRUE VINE


John 15:1 "I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.  John 15:2 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.  John 15:3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.  John 15:4 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.  John 15:5 "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 15:6 If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.   John 15:7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.  John 15:8 This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

1. VINE

The first mention of Vine (vitis vinifera) is found in Gen 9

Gen 9:20-21 Noah, a man of the soil, proceeded to plant a vineyard. When he drank some of its wine, he became drunk and lay uncovered inside his tent.

This is a replication of what God did in the Garden of Eden.

Gen 2:15 The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.

But because of sin Garden of Eden was gone, and when evil became so rampant God decided to put an end to his creation called Man. But man was given another chance and the progenitor of this species of man was Noah. In accordance with what God has commanded Noah planted a vineyard. Noah represented the new Man. Civilizations sprang up luxuriant growth of wine was produced and the result made him drunk. This is clearly a picture of mankind. From then on every civilization portrayed the vine as its glorious symbol. Early monuments of Egypt is filled with the drawings of vine and wine. Joseph started his glorious career as the Prime Minister of Egypt with the vine and the cup filled with Wine as a start:

Gen 40:9-11 So the chief cupbearer told Joseph his dream. He said to him, "In my dream I saw a vine in front of me, and on the vine were three branches. As soon as it budded, it blossomed, and its clusters ripened into grapes. Pharaoh's cup was in my hand, and I took the grapes, squeezed them into Pharaoh's cup and put the cup in his hand."

In the Roman Empire vine was the center of their life. Crowns made of vines were the victor’s crown in the coliseum. Caesar’s crown was made of vine. History bear witness that the fall of Roman empire came as result of its addiction to the this god of Wine. So were the fall of Babylon and Assyria before them.

Vines of Palestine were of particular of interest. When Moses sent in his spies they brought back the proof of its fertility and abundance by carrying back a bunch of grapes. This was the land God wanted his chosen people to occupy and enjoy.

Num 13:23 -24 When they reached the Valley of Eshcol, they cut off a branch bearing a single cluster of grapes. Two of them carried it on a pole between them, along with some pomegranates and figs. That place was called the Valley of Eshcol because of the cluster of grapes the Israelites cut off there.

Other places in Palestine were famous for its special luxuriant vines such as of Sibmah, Heshbon and Elealeh (Isa 16:8,9,10; Jer 48:32) and of Engedi. (So 1:14) Even today Palestinian vines are probably the best in the world.

The picture is clear from the above. Isaiah places it squarely thus:

Isa 5:1-5 I will sing for the one I love a song about his vineyard: My loved one had a vineyard on a fertile hillside. He dug it up and cleared it of stones and planted it with the choicest vines. He built a watchtower in it and cut out a winepress as well. Then he looked for a crop of good grapes, but it yielded only bad fruit.

Man was created in the image of God. He was asked to keep the earth, and populate it. But in so doing Man wandered away and forgot his purpose and produced evil instead of good. Vine represents Life especially Man.

When Adam failed, a new chance was given in Noah. Noah also got drunk from the new found prosperity. Vine is the symbol of Human Life. It is a symbol of abundant life, the luxuriant growth of the wine that spreads on . Season after season the vine remains bearing new leaves and new fruit. Generations after generation life goes on. Life was to be a life in the vineyards. But then the error of Noah was repeated through the nations. They got drunk with the abundance and let themselves naked.

So God selected one particular person in Abraham. There arose Israel.

Psa 80:8 You brought a vine out of Egypt; you drove out the nations and planted it

Ezek 17:5-7 "'He took some of the seed of your land and put it in fertile soil. He planted it like a willow by abundant water, and it sprouted and became a low, spreading vine. Its branches turned toward him, but its roots remained under it. So it became a vine and produced branches and put out leafy boughs. The vineyard of the LORD Almighty is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah are the garden of his delight. And he looked for justice, but saw bloodshed; for righteousness, but heard cries of distress.

Psa 80:9-14 You cleared the ground for it, and it took root and filled the land. The mountains were covered with its shade, the mighty cedars with its branches. It sent out its boughs to the Sea, its shoots as far as the River. Why have you broken down its walls so that all who pass by pick its grapes? Boars from the forest ravage it and the creatures of the field feed on it.

What a realistic picture of Israel.

This is not an isolated picture. God tried to replant the vine into several nations.

Amos 9:7 "Are not you Israelites the same to me as the Cushites ?" declares the LORD. "Did I not bring Israel up from Egypt, the Philistines from Caphtor and the Arameans from Kir?

He tried with Cushites (Modern South Sudanese), Philistines, and Arameans (Syrians) and probably many others before coming to Israel. All civilizations in spite of their revelations went astray. Instead of the provider, they worshipped the provided and went after Bacchus, the gods of wine and fertility and prosperity.

Isa 5:5-6 Now I will tell you what I am going to do to my vineyard: I will take away its hedge, and it will be destroyed; I will break down its wall, and it will be trampled. I will make it a wasteland, neither pruned nor cultivated, and briers and thorns will grow there. I will command the clouds not to rain on it."

Civilizations were destroyed because they did not produce the right fruit.

Mat 21:33-41 "Listen to another parable: There was a landowner who planted a vineyard. He put a wall around it, dug a winepress in it and built a watchtower. Then he rented the vineyard to some farmers and went away on a journey. When the harvest time approached, he sent his servants to the tenants to collect his fruit. "The tenants seized his servants; they beat one, killed another, and stoned a third. Then he sent other servants to them, more than the first time, and the tenants treated them the same way. Last of all, he sent his son to them. 'They will respect my son,' he said. "But when the tenants saw the son, they said to each other, 'This is the heir. Come, let's kill him and take his inheritance.' So they took him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. "Therefore, when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?" "He will bring those wretches to a wretched end," they replied, "and he will rent the vineyard to other tenants, who will give him his share of the crop at harvest time."

2. "I AM THE VINE"

While intoxication is condemned by the Bible, abstaining from wine was a symbol of mourning. Wine was considered to be given to man to cheer him up. In the Aryan culture wine ‘the amrit’ is the drink of the gods - the elect of God. Christianity has always held that stand because, Jesus himself was called a wine-biber. The first of his miracles was the conversion of water into wine. This is what the vine does. Vine takes water from the earth and converts it into juice in the fruit of the wine. In the marriage of Canaa this is what happened.

John 2:7-11 to the servants, "Fill the jars with water"; so they filled them to the brim. Then he told them, "Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet." They did so, and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside and said, "Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now." This, the first of his miraculous signs, Jesus performed at Cana in Galilee. He thus revealed his glory, and his disciples put their faith in him.

Jesus declared his glory by converting water into the best wine because he is the true vine.

So when Jesus said "I am the true vine", he was proclaiming that true Manhood is found in him and in him alone. When all of God’s effort to redeem mankind to its Manhood failed, Jesus became man that he may redeem it to what it should be. Christianisation is in this sense nothing but humanization. Making man as he is expected by God to be. Adam was son of God, now the Son of God became Son of Man - the Messiah, the Redeemer. He is the redeemer of mankind not of a particular group.

One of the major errors of the elect was that each group believed that they were the only elect of God. So Israel believed that they were the children of God and missed their responsibilities. God did select a vine so that he could redeem all mankind. That led to Zionism. Aryans thought they were the gods. That led to Nazism. Communists thought they were the people who would usher in the Kingdom of Man. What mess they made! It is in this context that we have to see the declaration of Jesus.

2 Cor 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!

Out of this true vine grows the new creation man and its nucleus is the Church. He told his disciples "you are the branches." Then he commanded them:

Mat 28:19-20 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."

No wonder Jesus selected the Cup of wine as his symbol of new covenant. It represents the new man. If wine brought decay, death and destruction before, the new wine brings life and fruitfulness.

3. "I AM THE VINE; YOU ARE THE BRANCHES"

While vine represents mankind, the new true vine is starting with church. In that sense it also represents Church - as a foretaste of the Kingdom. A vine has several branches. In fact each branch has several sub branches and it goes on. That is how a plant grows. That is how a plant should grow. Why should a plant bring out lot of branches. Why not just one stem? The reason is simple, each leaf wants to get the sunshine. Each leaf wants to produce its greenness. For this purpose it has to declare some sense of freedom and independence. But the entire leaf and branches forms one vine. And the wine spreads on the ground. This is the picture of the church with all its denominations and spreading across the world. They all together abides on the root which is Jesus Christ. Don’t cry for unity. There is only one unity - that unity is the centrality of Jesus. Church is the body of Christ and is bound together in Christ. There may be shades of redness on the grape leaf. They are not copies of each other. The corrugations on the leaf edges and the projections are all different. Their veins are all differently woven. How wonderful? Such is the Church.

Church has its members. As each branch carries other branches and they in turn carries others and also leaves, each individual member represents the branch and the leaf. Each family is a branch and each member in turn is a potential branch. It also represents the wide world with every human being as part of the great vine. The whole mankind is one huge vine. At the root of this mankind is Jesus. As he was the source of life in the beginning, he is also the source of new life in the new beginning.

But cut the branch from the stem, it looses its contact with the root and they wither and die under the same sun which otherwise provided nourishment. World experiences are transformed into nourishment to the believer as long as they live on the branch. Outside of it, these experiences brings destruction.

John 15:6 If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.

Abide in me, Jesus says. Otherwise you are wasted.

John 15:5 "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 6:53 Jesus said to them, "I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.

John 6:56-57 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me.

What does the branch do? They cannot do anything of its own. They simply abide on the vine.

What produce the fruit? The sap produces maturity and that produces the fruit. Then it is fertilized by the pollen that is distributed by the wind (Holy spirit) and the combination of the Word and the Spirit produces the fruit. The branch simply carries it. The Fruit of the Spirit flourishes in contrast to climate, where there is hatred it produces love, where there is sorrow it produces joy, where there is quarrel, peace.

My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.

John 15:13 Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his brother.

Why? Because all mankind is one organism.

Love one another was the Old command. Now Jesus adds the phrase, ‘as I have loved you’ He has left us an example. He has given us the power.

All civilizations are built on selfishness. It is the corner stone of every civilization of old and also of today. Individualism is the key to capitalism. But Jesus offers a different solution. He declares that all mankind is one organism. What we need is a band new plant capable of assimilating the others as its part. Grafted into the true vine all mankind have a chance to life.

4. BUT NOT ALL BRANCHES BEAR FRUIT.

John 15:7-10 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples

How does the vine bear fruit? The branches does not produce fruit. It is the whole plant that produces fruit. It is sap that is brought up by the root that produces the fruit. They run contrary to the law of gravity. They run upward and it supplies the necessary nutrients for the building of fruits. Fruits does not come overnight. By abiding continuously it results in producing the fruit. You cannot force to produce the fruit. "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.

And love is the ultimate fruit.

Gal 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness gentleness and self-control.

The proof of this abiding is that we receive whatever we ask for. Most people seem to by pass this test. In the history of the church prayers were answered when the church prayed with oneness of mind. Oneness of mind comes only through love. Evidently the proof of our love and oneness of mind is revealed through answered prayers. This promise is unconditional - whatever you ask.

5. IF YOU DO NOT ABIDE AND DO NOT PRODUCE FRUIT?

Mat 3:8-10 Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not think you can say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our father.' I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.

Mat 7:16-20 By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.

Through the history God has been doing this. Will He do the same with the branches of the church too? Will the church also get drunk with the wine like all the other nations? Not if the Lord Jesus is allowed to be present. That is what Jesus explains in his parable of the Vine here. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit.

The Hebrew writer explains it:

Heb 3:13- But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness. We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first. As has just been said: "Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion." Who were they who heard and rebelled? Were they not all those Moses led out of Egypt? And with whom was he angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the desert? And to whom did God swear that they would never enter his rest if not to those who disobeyed ? So we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief.

Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it. For we also have had the gospel preached to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith. Now we who have believed enter that rest, just as God has said, "So I declared on oath in my anger, 'They shall never enter my rest.'" And yet his work has been finished since the creation of the world.

Heb 4:6 It still remains that some will enter that rest, and those who formerly had the gospel preached to them did not go in, because of their disobedience.

Heb 4:11 Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience.

6. THOSE THAT BEAR FRUIT?

BEAR MUCH FRUIT

John 15:2 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.

1 Pet 1:6-7 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith--of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire--may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.

John 15:16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit--fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.

Notice that God wants every man to prosper. But it is only when one abide in Him will we be made whole as a mankind.

7. CHURCH AS VINEYARD

There are many other insights possible from this analogy and most commentaries give excellent studies in this regard.. Here is an outline which I have gathered.
 

vineyard

Church, The World

fruitful branches

saints in the church, the righteous

unfruitful branches

nominal Christians who live a defeated life, unrighteous

Pruning by God

God purifying his people by afflictions 

consequence of sin

To dwell under the vine and tree is an emblem of domestic happiness and peace, 

Micah 4:4 Every man will sit under his own vine and under his own fig tree, and no one will make them afraid, for the LORD Almighty has spoken.

Rom 8:1 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,

Rom 8:2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.

Jesus provides this protection by his blood. There is safety in taking refuge in Him

vineyards are surrounded by a wall or hedge in order to keep out the wild boars, Ps 80:13;

One of the duty of the church as an institution is to keep the members from the assault of blasphemy and heresy from outside the church.

Jackals and foxes. Nu 22:24; Ne 4:3; So 2:15; Eze 13:4,5; Mt 21:33;

Internal squabbles?

It is the little foxes that spoils the vine.

Its rich clusters

the graces of the church Solomon 7:8

Its quick growth

the growth of saints in grace Hosea 14:7

 

 

The stones carefully gathered out of the vineyard Isaiah 5:2

Internal weeding process within the church

Cottages are built for the keepers inside the vineyard Isaiah 1:8

Places of help within the church

Provided with the apparatus for making wine Isaiah 5:2· Matthew 21:33

make provision for the infilling of the Holy Spirit 

Unfruitful

the wicked Hosea 10:1

Worthlessness of its wood

The wood of, fit only for burning

Ezek 15:2-3 "Son of man, how is the wood of a vine better than that of a branch on any of the trees in the forest? Is wood ever taken from it to make anything useful? Do they make pegs from it to hang things on?

Unfruitful life is a wasted life. 

 

8. LAWS RESPECTING VINEYARDS

 

Not to be planted with different kinds of seed Deuteronomy 22:9

Each church should have its own theology. Do not try to mix them. 

The fruit of new vine should not be eaten by the owners till the fifth year Leviticus 19:25

The fruit of new vine should not to be eaten for three years Leviticus 19:23

The fruit of new vine is to be holy to the Lord in the fourth year Leviticus 19:24

 

This probably refers to the maturing period of new Christians. They may not be expected to teach. Just as the vine needs time to mature and bring fruit, every Christian needs to mature before they bring forth fruit.

Strangers entering the vineyard are allowed to eat the fruit of vine freely, but they may not carry any away from the vineyard. Deuteronomy 23:24

People may come into the church to feed themselves. But they may not take any food outside or any member out of the church. No church should take in another person from a different church, nor prompt to do so.

9. VINTAGE

The vintage, is a season of general festivity, began in September. The towns were deserted as all the community left their homes and the people lived among the vineyards in the lodges and tents. The grapes were gathered with shouts of joy by the "grape gatherers," (Jer 25:30) and put into baskets. They were then carried on their head and shoulders, or slung upon a yoke, to the wine-press. Winepress was a place of dancing and merriment where all the community took part. Young took their brides at that time. It is harvest time and took place every year. Six years they harvested their fruits. At the end of the sixth year was the biggest harvest of all. There would be double harvest

Rev 14:18 Still another angel, who had charge of the fire, came from the altar and called in a loud voice to him who had the sharp sickle, "Take your sharp sickle and gather the clusters of grapes from the earth's vine, because its grapes are ripe."

This is the great rapture, when Christ takes his bride home in pomp and splendor, in joy and merriment.

1 Cor 15:51-52 Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed-- in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.

Rev 19:7-8 Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear." (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints.)

Rev 21:2-4 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away."

Then comes the seventh year - the sabbatical year when no land is tilled nor planted.

Lev 25:2 "Speak to the Israelites and say to them: 'When you enter the land I am going to give you, the land itself must observe a Sabbath to the LORD.

Lev 25:3 For six years sow your fields, and for six years prune your vineyards and gather their crops.

Lev 25:4 -6 But in the seventh year the land is to have a Sabbath of rest, a Sabbath to the LORD. Do not sow your fields or prune your vineyards. Do not reap what grows of itself or harvest the grapes of your untended vines. The land is to have a year of rest. Whatever the land yields during the Sabbath year will be food for you--for yourself, your manservant and maidservant, and the hired worker and temporary resident who live among you, Consecrate the fiftieth year and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you; each one of you is to return to his family property and each to his own clan.

Lev 25:11-14 The fiftieth year shall be a jubilee for you; do not sow and do not reap what grows of itself or harvest the untended vines. For it is a jubilee and is to be holy for you; eat only what is taken directly from the fields. "'In this Year of Jubilee everyone is to return to his own property. "'If you sell land to one of your countrymen or buy any from him,

This is the period when the church is taken away. There are no laborers on the earth. But there will a harvest. The spontaneous harvest will be harvested as they are .Thus shall the elect return unto their original estate into full humanity.

Then the son of man will appear for all the nations with his bride , the church. Isaiah describes this second coming thus:

Isa 63:1-3 Who is this coming from Edom, from Bozrah, with his garments stained crimson? Who is this, robed in splendor, striding forward in the greatness of his strength? "It is I, speaking in righteousness, mighty to save." Why are your garments red, like those of one treading the winepress? "I have trodden the winepress alone; from the nations no one was with me. I trampled them in my anger and trod them down in my wrath; their blood spattered my garments, and I stained all my clothing.

Isa 63:4 For the day of vengeance was in my heart, and the year of my redemption has come.

The day of the vengeance has come. The great white throne is now open.

When Jesus opened his ministry his manifesto stated:

Luke 4:18 "The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed,

Luke 4:19 to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor."

In his second coming the remaining portion of Isaiah’s prophecy will be fulfilled adding

Isa 61:1 The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners,

Isa 61:2 to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn,

This Isaiah compares with the treading of the winepress.

Will you be comforted or will you be the target of the vengeance of our God?