Today we examine one of the most beautiful images of all Scripture. Jesus describes His relationship to believers using an allegory that would have conjured clear images in the minds of his followers. Not only were vineyards common sights to his disciples, but a golden vine adorned the gate of the temple that Herod had built. Once again, Jesus makes a powerful I AM declaration that draws deeply on Old Testament imagery while speaking to His own nature and ministry. The love of God is richly illustrated here:
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...
"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. 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...This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
The elements of the allegory are clearly drawn:
The Father is the vinedresser who superintends the garden and fosters fruitfulness. Jesus is the true vine, through which flows the very life of the plant. The branches are people, those that are connected to Jesus will thrive. The fruit is the outgrowth of the life that Jesus imparts to those who abide in Him. Jesus mentions what some of this fruit will look like:
Now remain in my love...If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love...
I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete...
Love each other as I have loved you.
Love, joy, and obedience are all examples of the type of fruit that are seen in the lives of believers. The intimacy of the believer to Jesus is powerful, showing that an ongoing connection allows the believer to draw life and strength from Him. The purpose of Jesus' ministry is the fruitfulness and health of the believer, "I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full."
So how does one abide in Jesus? The same way that the disciple, John, did—by believing, by spending time with Him and remembering His teaching and by obeying.
This is not duty. It is delight. It is exactly like telling a bride she must spend time with her groom. Or like telling a chocoholic that he must eat Godiva truffles. It is a gift to be able to do the one thing that you enjoy the most.
Today, abide in Jesus, and rest. Know that you can trust the Lord to bring about any fruit that should spring from that.