Verse of the Day Devotion: John 15:1
“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.” – John 15:1
Over the next few weekdays, we will be looking at seven verses where Jesus declares “I AM”, and then gives a metaphor regarding what He is. Today, we will look at the seventh and last of these, “I am the true vine.”
Jesus is now preparing the disciples for their work they are to do after He ascends into heaven, Judas has already left to betray Him. They were sitting in a room together when Jesus told them one would betray Him, and He showed it would be Judas. “Jesus therefore answered, that is the one for whom I shall dip the morsel and give it to him.” So, when He had dipped the morsel, He took and gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. And after the morsel, Satan then entered him. Jesus therefore said to him, what you do, do quickly.” John 13:26-27. And then further down, “And so after receiving the morsel he went out immediately; and it was night.” John 13:30.
Jesus wanted His friends, not only those eleven, but those of all time, to know that He was not going to desert them, even though they would no longer enjoy His physical presence. His living energy—His spiritual reality—would continue to nourish and sustain them just as the roots and trunk of a grape vine produce the energy that nourishes and sustains its branches while they develop their fruit. Jesus wanted us to know that, even though we cannot see Him, we are as intricately connected to Him as the branches of a vine are connected to its stem. Our desire to know and love Him and the energy to serve Him will keep flowing into and through us as long as we “abide” in Him.
Jesus then goes further in verse four. “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you, unless you abide in Me.” John 15:4. He is saying that no branch can even live, let alone produce fruit by itself. Cut off from the trunk, a branch is dead. Just as a vine’s branches rely on being connected to the trunk from which they receive their energy to bear fruit, Jesus’ disciples depend on being connected to Him for their spiritual life and the ability to serve Him effectively. And the fruit we produce is from the Holy Spirit, not of ourselves. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23. What we do for Jesus, what fruit we produce is purely through Him, and the only way we can truly serve Him is to be rightly connect to Him in a faith and love relationship.
Then looking one verse further, we read, “If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch, and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.” John 15:6. No believer can achieve anything of spiritual value independently of Christ Jesus. He also reminds us that there are some who are “in” Him who bear no fruit. But these are not, as some would suppose, true branches that just happen to be fruitless. All true branches bear fruit. Just as we know a healthy, living tree by the good fruit it produces, so do we recognize fruitless branches as having no connection to the True Vine. And therefore, we read in Matthew, “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes, nor figs from thistles, are they? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit; but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So then, you will know them by their fruits.” Matthew 7:15-20.
In closing, Jesus was telling the disciples the only way they can bare fruit is if they rely on Him and be connected to Him after He goes. And the same is to be said of us. If we try to do the work of Christ through our own strength, we will not be successful, for no fruit can be produced if we are not connected to Him, just as no branch can produce fruit if it is not connected to the vine. And He, as our focus verse says, is the true vine. He is our source of all things good. So, we depend on Jesus for everything, starting with our very life—“For in Him we live and move and have our being.” Romans 5:10. And this includes reconciliation with God through Him by which no one can serve God effectively until he relates to Jesus Christ by faith. Jesus is our only connection with the God who gave life and who produces in us a fruitful life of righteousness and service.
William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.