The Vine and the Branches

My father purchased a grape farm, when I was in High School. The owner had not bothered to invest much labor, or fertilizer, during the time it was for sale.  When Dad bought the farm, just before harvest time, the vines were stunted and the grapes of poor quality. He harvested the crop and sent it to the winery. The winery did not pay much for it. After the harvest, Dad hired laborers and the cut those branches off until only the root-stump of each vine was left.

The following spring the vineyards were fertilized and vibrant new branches began to grow. The ensuing years’ harvest improved amazingly; within four years those vines were producing export quality table grapes that were delicious. I can still savor the taste of them in my memory sixty years later!

Jesus brought up the subject of the vine and its branches during the last supper with His disciples.

Jesus taught that His Father was the Vine-dresser.

“… my Father is the husbandman.” John 15:1

Father God is the ultimate authority. Jesus taught us to pray, ‘Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven’. In order to fulfill His loving plan of redemption He allowed Jesus to be cut down to the ground, like a severely pruned vine; and the book of Acts records the story of vibrant branches springing out of the vine, and producing a harvest that was pleasing to the Father.

"He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? For he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken." Isa 53:8

Jesus taught that He is not finished with Israel

"But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." Matt 10:6.

Jesus was crucified for claiming to be the King of Israel. Matt 27:42, John 12:13.

Peter stated this clearly to the rulers of Israel:

“Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Savior, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins." Act 5:31

Paul the apostle taught this, saying:

"Of this man's seed hath God according to his promise raised unto Israel a Savior, Jesus:" Acts13:23

The word Jacob references the Physical nation, while the word Israel references the believing Spiritual ‘people of God’.

“The Lord sent a word into Jacob, and it hath lighted upon Israel” Isaiah 9:8

Paul is using this understanding when he says:

"For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel:" Rom 9:6

Typologically we find Israel likened to an Olive tree. God sees the nation of Israel as an Olive Tree, but individual believers in Him are seen as branches.

"After all, if you were cut off from what is naturally a wild olive tree, and contrary to nature were grafted into a cultivated olive tree, how much easier it will be for these natural branches to be grafted back into their own olive tree!" Romans 11:24(ISV)

"Blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in. And so all Israel shall be saved:" Rom 11:25-26

God made a Covenant with Israel.

 This is different to a contract. When a contract is breached, both parties are separated. When Israel broke covenant with God, they were separated from God, as branches that were cut off, but the Covenant was never revoked. God was not finished with the nation of His choosing.

“Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah:” Jeremiah 31:31.

When Jesus spoke to the disciples during the last supper, he wanted them to understand that what was about to happen was all part of God’s plan.

Jesus taught that His Followers are the Branches

"Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit." John 15:1-2

We are predestined to produce!

This is the purpose God has for your life. God wants fruit from you and me. He calls every follower of Him to be fruitful. Not all are called to be preachers or missionaries, but are all called to have such a sparkle and joy in us, that others will desire what we have in our lives. When you are ‘bitten’ will you taste sweet, or will you respond in like kind? Mature grapes are sweet as honey!

You ask “How can I be that kind of a Christian?"

The answer lies in your personal relationship to Jesus. "How connected are you to Him in your daily life?"

Jesus taught that He is the Vine:

The Old Testament prophets used the simile of a vine for Israel repeatedly. Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Hosea and Joel all speak of a grape vine in referring to Israel. There are however, only nine references to the word 'vine' in the New Testament, six of which are found in Jesus teaching.

"I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit." John 15:1

Christ is the Vine!

Fundamentally Jesus is the source of all life and fruit, to be found in the vine. The Eternal Son of God existed as the ‘I AM’ with the Father before the world was created. He tells us that He is the vine, the Creator.

Israeli believers are branches of the Vine; Gentile believers are branches of the Vine; we read in John 1:1-2, that Jesus was with God in the beginning and created all things and peoples. Jesus said to his disciples that they, individually, are branches of the vine. We too are branches of this vine, if we are believers in Him.

We need not only the connection to the vine root, but abundant water to be productive and produce.

Shortly before His crucifixion, he stood in the temple and cried out:

“If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.” John 7:37

In South Africa there are vast areas unusable for lack of water.

I flew executives from Anglo American to one such dry area called the Karroo, through which the Orange River flowed. When rains fell many hundreds of miles away from that desert area, this river often overflowed its banks. At other times of the year there was almost no water in the river. In 1971 the Vinci Corporation completed the Gariep dam, storing millions of gallons of the water that so often flowed unused into the Atlantic Ocean. Today that desert is producing valuable food crops, and hydro-electric power, using water from that dam.

Jesus is seen as the water of life. When he did His first miracle, He turned water into wine. He told the Samaritan woman at the well that He could give her water so she would never thirst again. Life cannot be sustained long without water.

God, in His word, also teaches that reconciliation comes by the shedding of blood. Sin required a sacrifice, and blood had to be shed. Jesus was that sacrificial sinless lamb that took away the sins of the world. At the crucifixion we are told:

“But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water” John 19:34

Morris Williams, spent forty years of his life as a missionary to Africa, and said it well in his book, Toughness Trivia:

“In accordance with the plan and purpose of God, the Water of Life was poured out on a wooden cross and, in death, the water turned to blood!”

You can become that fruitful follower of Jesus if you cling to the Vine, Jesus, and take the nourishment that He offers, from His Word, and His Spirit.

© 2013 Jim Cole-Rous