Vines and vineyards are no strangers to God’s Word. They were valuable assets to many people, but their worth is unsurpassed when used to teach spiritual lessons to multitudes of people.
In reading this chapter, there are two points that are important for us to remember. The first matter of importance is Christ Jesus said these things to His disciples. They have no meaning to the unbeliever. Secondly, without grapes the vine is just another vine. Its purpose is to be fruitful, and so it is the Master’s purpose that believers should bear the fruit of a follower of Christ as each of us abide in Him and He in us.
Jesus is the “true vine,” and any other vine is only a copy, or substitute. He is the source of strength and as our source He gives to each of us the strength we need for each day. God the Father is the husbandman, or vinedresser, and as such He promotes the growth of the vine. The Father’s interest in the vine is such that He protects and nourishes it.
Jesus, as the true vine, has been designated by the Father to be our source of blessings, and He takes care of us, the branches. It is this relationship with the true vine that we must constantly keep in our minds and hearts. As branches we are dependent upon the vine for life, and until we confess that we are weak and helpless without Jesus, we will never be in a right relationship with Him.
The vinedresser prunes the branches for the health of the vine and to optimize the yield of its fruit. Sometimes dead wood is pruned to prevent disease and pests from hindering the health and growth of the branch. Other times, it is necessary to prune away healthy growth for the good of the branch. Does God prune us? Absolutely. When God prunes us, it is just another way in which He is saying He loves us.
Perhaps you are wondering how you are pruned. God uses His Word to “purge,” or to clean us. When God desires to prune us, He will speak through the Holy Spirit to bring conviction into our hearts and He will guide us to follow His purpose rather than our own ways. At other times, God may use a person to prune us with their words. For example, someone who has no idea about what is in your heart might say something that instantly causes us to think about a burden you have been dealing with for some time.
The word “abide” appears over and over in this Scripture, and it is used three times in the third verse where we see that when we abide, we will produce fruit. The fruit we produce is not for ourselves, but for the honoring of God and benefit of other people. Jesus said, “Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit.” Any good in our works and service is fruit and it is due to our abiding in Christ Jesus and because He abides in us.
Obedience follows the abiding, and Jesus said, “This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.” Christ commands us to love because it is something we decide to do. If we are diligent to obey this commandment, we will most likely obey the other commands. Loving other people becomes easier when we think about Christ who gave up His life for both friends and enemies.
Jesus called the disciples His friends. It would be our great privilege to be a servant, but it is so much better to be His friend. A servant is not informed about his master’s business, but as friends of Christ Jesus He has made known to us the things concerning salvation that He heard from His Father.
Believers are ordained, or appointed by Christ Jesus, to tell other people about the Savior so they, too, might be joined to the vine. The work is not easy, but God will supply our needs.
As we conclude here, I want to refer you to these questions in Isaiah 5:4: “What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done in it? Wherefore, when I looked that it should bring forth grapes, brought it forth wild grapes?” When we are not fruitful, it is not the fault of God who has done everything for us.
The Sunday school lesson is written by Ed Wilcox, pastor of Centerville Baptist Church. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org