John 15:1-17 is another teaching that Jesus shared with his disciples during the famous Farewell Discourse, the last series of teachings that Jesus gave his disciples. This time of teaching began after the Passover meal as Jesus washed his disciples’ feet (John 13:1-5) and continues until Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane (Mark 14:32, John 17). The Farewell Discourse includes many noteworthy instructions, one of which is the seventh of Jesus’ I Am statements, “I am the true vine” (John 15:1).
The word picture of a vine for the people of God was not new. In the Old Testament, God compares Israel to a vine and a vineyard on several occasions. The idea is that God the Father chose, planted, and tended to Israel just like a gardener chooses, plants, and tends to a seed as it grows into a vine. God chose Israel from among the nations (Deut 14:2), planted them in the Holy Land (Deut 1:8), and provided for all their needs in many ways, both physical (rain, water, food, etc.) and spiritual (Law, priests, prophets, etc.). Unfortunately, the Israelites of as a whole proved to be unfruitful branches and required much “pruning” through exile to Assyria and Babylon.
However, a small remnant of faithful Israelites was enough for a future hope of the nation. Further, out of this remnant, the Father brought the Son, Jesus, into the world as a human baby. Jesus, the true vine, is the fulfillment of the word picture of the vine used to describe God’s people. And now the identity of God’s people has expanded to include Gentiles (non-Jews) who trust in Jesus Christ. Gentiles are the wild branches grafted into the true vine (Jesus Christ). So the church (all the branches) includes both Jews and Gentiles, whoever believes in Jesus.
If you believe in Jesus, then the Holy Spirit lives within you alongside your spirit (Eph 1). The Holy Spirit illuminates our minds and refreshing hearts tot help us grow, just like the water and the sun that helps the branches grow (Gal 5). And the Bible, God’s Word, is our spiritual food that helps us grow (Luke 4:4), just like plants need food from the soil to grow. And as we grow in Christ, our lives start to show the Fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22). This is what it means to abide, or remain, in Christ, our true vine.
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