Jesus: The True Vine (John 15)
As Jesus came close to the end of his earthly life, he spent his last hours ministering to his disciples. Even though he knew the suffering that awaited him, he was more concerned with his disciples than himself. He wanted to make sure that his disciples would persevere in the faith. Jesus knew that there are events coming that would shake their faith to the core. He will be going away. He will be arrested, brutally beaten, and executed in front of their eyes. As this horror unfolds, the disciples will be tempted to deny their association with him, to run away, and to lose faith in Jesus all together. So, John records, in this fifteenth chapter, Jesus’ urgent admonition to them: “Abide in me!” Stay with me! Don’t lose faith!
This is an important admonition for every Christian as well. At times, we are all tempted to lose our faith. Doubts and questions about the reality of God and the reliability of Scripture wage war against the foundations of our faith. All to often, our heart runs after other interests and our love for the things around us suffocate the embers of our faith. If not those things, some of us who begin to follow Christ soon become weary of being different than the culture in which we live. Our desire to be accepted and our fear of ridicule wins over our desire to continue to pursue Christ. Eventually we may abandon the faith altogether. Through John 15, Jesus has warned, admonished, and encouraged us as well.
To make this important point strong and vivid, Jesus chose to employ a familiar metaphor. He spoke of a vineyard, a vinedresser, a vine, and two kinds of branches—branches that bear fruit and branches that do not. At the highest level, here is what Jesus is teaching us: (1) The Father has planted a vineyard in the world to gain fruit for His enjoyment and glory. The vine that He planted was Israel (Isaiah 5 and Psalm 80). But when He came looking for fruit on the vine and only found “wild grapes.” As a result, (2) Jesus is the True Vine planted by the Father. Jesus fulfilled the purpose and pleasure of God by producing the fruit that He desired. (3) All men must abide in the True Vine! There are only two kinds of men according to John 15 and they are likened to two kinds of branches. (a) Branches that do not bear fruit. These branches, like Judas, are temporarily connected to Christ, but are cut off by the Father. (b) Branches that bear fruit. These branches, like the disciples, are pruned by the Father to bear more fruit. With those truths understood, Jesus spends the rest of the chapter urging all disciples to “Abide in Me.”
So, the question that we want to answer from this text is: What does it mean to “abide in Christ?”
Jesus: The True Vine
1. Abiding in Christ is the Life of Christ abiding in you. (15:1-8)
Result: You will bear fruit.
2. Abiding in Christ is the Word of Christ abiding in you. (15:7)
Result: You will keep his commandments.
3. Abiding in Christ is the Love of Christ abiding in you. (15:9-17)
Result: You will love one another.
4. Abiding in Christ is the Joy of Christ abiding in you. (15:11)
Result: Your joy will be full.
5. Abiding in Christ is the Name of Christ abiding on you. (15:18-27)
Result: You will be hated by the world.