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 my disciples. John 15:1-8
This passage in John’s gospel contains the last of Jesus’ seven “I am” statements and takes place after the Last Supper in the upper room and before the events in the Garden of Gethsemane. In this passage Jesus describes himself as “the true vine”, but what does he mean when he calls himself the “true vine”.
In the Old Testament the vine is frequently used as a symbol for Israel, but it is often shown to be inadequate or lacking in some way. When Jesus described himself as “the true vine” he was making it clear that unlike the “vine” of Israel that was inadequate or lacking, he is fully capable and able. He then goes on to describe those who have chosen to follow him as “the branches”. And it is by remaining attached to Jesus, “the true vine”, that we produce fruit. Which is what God expects of us as his followers.
Jesus then talks about two different categories of branches: fruitless and fruitful. The first category are the fruitless branches. These are the branches that have never produced or who have quit producing fruit because they no longer have the spiritual life in them that comes from enduring faith in and love for Christ. These are the branches that God cuts off or prunes. This however does not mean that the person who is saved, but bears no fruit, is going to hell. But what it does mean is that they will not receive as great a reward for what they have done with the things that God has given them. However, there is still hope for these branches because they can be grafted again into “the true vine”, if they will repent of their sins and return to a right relationship with God.
The second category of “branches” are those who are fruitful. These are the “branches” who have life in them because of the their enduring faith in and love for Christ. These are the “branches” that God prunes or trims, so that they will grow better and become more fruitful. Which means that God removes from their lives anything that takes away from their devotion to Christ or hinders their life-giving connection to him. However, these are the “branches” that need to be extremely careful, because these are the “branches” that the devil is actively targeting. Why, because they are the ones producing fruit and they are the ones who are causing him the most problems. Which means they are the ones the most in danger for falling into the devils traps and losing their attachment to “the true vine”.
Which category of “branch” do you fall into? Are you a fruitful branch or are you a fruitless branch? If you are a fruitful branch stay on guard against those things that will cause you to cease producing fruit. If you fall into the fruitless branch category, then it is not too late for you to become fruitful. Repent of your sins, ask God to forgive you of your sins and ask him to help you live a fruitful life, and you will be grafted back into the life giving “true vine”.