“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He cleanses it, 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, so neither can you, unless you abide in Me. (Jn 15:1-4).
The thought of our mutual indwelling, I in Christ and Christ in me, is a theme repeated often in John chapter 14. In chapter 15, the same idea is conveyed in a word picture about a vine and its branches.
Jesus is the vine. God, the Father, is the farmer. We are the vine’s branches. And we derive all of our life and fruit-producing energy from Jesus Christ, the true vine. Branches that “bear fruit” represent the true branches, the true believers, connected to the vine. The farmer “cleanses” or prunes us. And as this passage makes clear, we are “clean” because the word of God, in the person of Jesus, has taken root in our hearts.
But what about the fruitless branch, the one being taken away? Remember what John recorded just a couple of chapters earlier, “Jesus said, ‘You are clean but not all of you.’ For Jesus knew the one who was betraying Him; for this reason He said, ‘Not all of you are clean’ ” (Jn:13:10-11). Judas was connected to Jesus per se as one of the twelve, but not “attached” in a life-giving way by faith in Jesus. He was not a true follower. That type of situation of somewhat connected to Jesus, but not by a true faith, is represented by the unfruitful branch.
But we are fruitful branches abiding in the Vine while the Vine sends its life-giving energy into us. Now it is very important to understand the “abiding” and “bearing fruit” that is going on here. The English syntax makes it sound like our choice to “abide” (and the fruit bearing that goes with it) could be an on again-off again process; like the abiding choice is up to us. Is that the case? We will talk about it next time.