The True Vine

This week we are dwelling in the Word and exploring the seven “I Am” statements of Jesus. Today’s reading is John 15:1-8, where Jesus says that he is the true vine, we are the branches, and the Father is the gardener who prunes us so that we might bear fruit.

Jesus uses an analogy that would have been very familiar to his original audience. There are a few key places in the Old Testament where God refers to Israel as a vineyard that he planted with the hopes that it would bear fruit (by following God’s laws, loving their neighbors, and pointing people to the goodness of God). But Israel did not always honor God the way he hoped, so the vineyard bore no fruit.

Jesus is telling us that the key to bearing fruit is to stop trying to accomplish everything on our own. Just like you can’t cut a branch off of a grape vine and expect it to keep producing fruit, we can’t separate ourselves from the source of all goodness and life and expect to produce good things in our lives. What Israel failed to do on their own (bear the fruit God wanted), Jesus can empower us to do through our relationship with him.

Jesus wants us to experience the full and abundant life. A big part of that means being strengthened by Jesus so that we can live up to our calling and produce good fruit in our lives. If we want to bear that kind of fruit, we need to stay connected to the one true vine.