The Vine and the Branches
“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.” So begins one of the most famous and enduring allegories of all time. At the Last Supper, Judas Iscariot went out of the room after Jesus gave him the dipped morsel and Satan entered his heart. The time for Jesus’ arrest, torture, and crucifixion had come. “Now is the Son of Man glorified,” He said, “and God is glorified in Him” (15:31). After completing His farewell discourse with His beloved friends, Jesus said to the remaining eleven disciples, “Rise, let us go from here.” They sang a hymn and went out to the Mount of Olives.
According to New Testament scholar William Hendriksen, “the fact that before his trial and crucifixion this was the last opportunity which Jesus had to warn the disciples not to be like Judas but to remain in the faith, to manifest in their lives not the work of Satan but the fruits of the Holy Spirit, and the additional fact that the fertility of the vine readily suggested spiritual fruit-bearing, explains why Jesus spoke this allegory.”
An allegory, as defined by an unknown author, is a figure of speech, “a mode of expression in which words are used out of their literal meaning or out of their ordinary use in order to add beauty (rather than using plain, straightforward language) or emotional intensity (to make the reader feel the story), or to transfer the poet’s sense impressions (by comparing one thing with another thing that is familiar to the reader) or to be a means of concentration (the writer may convey an image with the power of a few words rather than many which may be required otherwise).” Jesus chose the medium of an allegory as the very best way to express His final thoughts to His beloved disciples before He was taken from them.
On the way to the Mount of Olives, Jesus employed the imagery of the vine, vinedresser, branches, and fruit to remind His disciples that without Him, they could do nothing. Absolutely nothing. The Incarnate Lord assured them, however, that they would bear fruit, more fruit, and much fruit as they learned how to abide in Him moment by moment and let His words abide in them.
There is so much to discover in these sixteen verses that Bruce Wilkinson entitled his book Secrets of the Vine. If you are looking for the reasons that your heart has grown cold toward the Lord, look no further than this allegory. If you aren’t sure what it means to “abide in Christ,” come closer and listen to Jesus. If you have been told that you can lose your salvation, carefully study John 15:2 again. If you want to know more about how to live an abundant life and bear much fruit for God’s glory, look no further than Jesus’ own words. And if you are unclear about the pruning process God uses to make room for even more “grapes,” ask Him to search your heart and reveal His purposes in your current trials and difficulties.
A final word: If you have been a careful student of apologetics, history, science, philosophy, theology, biography, psychology, or any other field of study, and still wonder where God is and why your life seems empty or unfulfilled, it is possible that you have not yet considered or embraced the infallible counsel of the Son of God as given in the allegory of The Vine and the Branches. We hope this study will address the important questions you have and help bring you into a more satisfying relationship with the only One who can sustain and nourish your life in the midst of the empty temporal promises offered by the world.
Click on the chapters below to download.
The Vine & the Branches: Introduction.
The Vine & the Branches, Part 1: Christ the Vine.
The Vine & the Branches, Part 2: The Father’s Passion for Fruit.
The Vine & the Branches, Part 3: How the Father Makes Us More Fruitful.
The Vine & the Branches, Part 4: Abiding in Christ.
The Vine & the Branches, Part 5: The Cost of Not Abiding in Christ.
The Vine & the Branches, Part 6: What the Bible Says About Fruit.
The Vine & the Branches, Part 7: The Relationship Between Abiding & Obedience.
The Vine & the Branches, Part 8: Parting Words.