Here is my Sunday school lesson on John Ch. 15
“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.”
The grape vine in the Bible is often used as a word picture for the nation of Israel.
For example, check out
Psalm 80:8-9 “You have brought a vine out of Egypt; You have cast out the nations, and planted it. You prepared room for it, And caused it to take deep root, And it filled the land.”
Who did God bring “out of Egypt”? The nation of Israel! After bringing them out of Egypt, He “cast out the nations”, in other words God pushed the other nations out of the Promised Land, the land of Canaan. Then He “planted it”, He established the nation of Israel right where it sits today. He put it there, caused them to become strong and blessed them there so that they “filled the land”.
But then Israel didn’t always follow after God.
Isaiah 5:1-2, 7 “Now let me sing to my Well-beloved A song of my Beloved regarding His vineyard: My Well-beloved has a vineyard On a very fruitful hill. He dug it up and cleared out its stones, And planted it with the choicest vine. He built a tower in its midst, And also made a winepress in it; So He expected it to bring forth good grapes, But it brought forth wild grapes…. For the vineyard of the LORD of hosts is the house of Israel, And the men of Judah are His pleasant plant. He looked for justice, but behold, oppression; For righteousness, but behold, a cry for help.”
And then also we see
Jeremiah 2:21 “Yet I had planted you a noble vine, a seed of highest quality. How then have you turned before Me Into the degenerate plant of an alien vine?”
So in the Old Testament, before Jesus came to this earth to be our Savior, the “Vine” was the nation of Israel and the “Vinedresser” was God. God was the One that planted, established, pruned, watered, and blessed the Vine.
Now in the New Testament Jesus has come to earth:
John 15:1-2 “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.”
He is now saying “I am the Vine.” So under the Old Testament the “way to God” was through the Tabernacle, and through the Jewish law that God had established in the Old Testament books of the Law, and through the priesthood. Once Christ came to us, then the “way to God” is through Jesus alone:
“Jesus said to him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes to the Father, but by me.” John 14:6
So Jesus is now the Vine. Who is the Vinedresser? It’s still God, that doesn’t change.
Who are the branches? The believers – those of us that have accepted the free gift of eternal life that Jesus offers.
We know that believers are the branches, but what if they do not perform (bear fruit), does He then “take them away” and cut them off from the church?
To answer that, we look to the Greek language. The Greek verb used here is airo which can be translated “takes away” but can also be translated: “to raise up, elevate, lift up” and “to raise upwards, elevate, lift up (as in by the hand)” and also “to raise from the ground, take up (as in stones)”. This paints a pretty cool picture in my mind of God lifting up someone who “does not bear fruit”, a person who is struggling and not following God but is a believer. He takes them by the hand and pulls them up to Him, helping them up off the ground, lovingly bringing them back to Him. I love it!
If a branch is bearing fruit, following God, serving Him, He will be lovingly pruning that one. How does He prune us? That’s the next verse!
Vs 3 “You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.”
The Word of God prunes and cleans us by convicting, instructing, and guiding. The Word gives us hope, shows us God’s grace and mercy, gives us direction and lights our path:
Psalm 119:105 – “Your word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path.”
Vs 4-5 “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.”
Without the Vine (Jesus) we can do nothing. We would not exist without God, and we could do absolutely nothing if it were not for God. We are nothing but dust without Him. But with Christ and in Christ, we are fruitful, we can bless others and be blessed. We can show others His love, we can read and study His Word, we can be fruitful with Him and in Him!
Vs 6 “If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.”
We are not human bodies with an eternal soul, we are eternal souls with a human body.
When we die, we will be going to one place or the other to spend eternity. Heaven or hell. We have a choice. I’ve picked heaven, and frankly the alternative is frightening. I know a Christian (who is not walking with God) who is so angry at another Christian that he said “If he’s going to heaven, I don’t want to be there”.
The fact that this other guy is forgiven and will receive God’s mercy and spend eternity in heaven makes my friend so angry he doesn’t want to be there.
The Bible says we have “all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). We are ALL born in the same sinking ship that is going down to hell, and God has thrown us each a life raft. You can get in the life raft or not, it’s your choice. All you have to do is believe in Him. Jesus died for your sin and for my sin, and when we believe that He rose again so we can live eternally with Him, He makes eternal life a reality for us. All it takes is a simple prayer. Sounds too easy? That’s because He loves us so much, He wanted it to be easy! Tell Him that you accept His free offer of forgiveness and life. (“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved” – Acts 16:31)
Vs 7 “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.”
If we are abiding in Christ, and we are living out His Word in us and we read and study His Word and desire His Will, when we ask for what we desire, it will be that which God has put on our hearts. This verse does NOT mean God is like a big vending machine where we make the request for what we want and God performs. James 5:16 tells us “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another…The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” God will place on our hearts what to ask for, and even though OUR desire may be for one thing, if we are praying in Christ it is our desire that HIS will be done.
Vs 8 “By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.”
God is glorified when we are bearing fruit. Glorify means “to exalt, to honor, to hold in high esteem, to elevate”. So we honor God when we are bearing fruit, doing His will, being used by Him in the lives of others.
Vs 9-11 “As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.”
If we are abiding “in His love” we have accepted Jesus as our Savior. But He also tells us to keep His commandments along with abiding in His love. Doing both, abiding and obeying, will give us His full joy! Hallelujah!