2 Samuel 11:1-27; John 15:1-17; Psalms 119:49-58; Proverbs 25:23-24
NT: ““I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. Every branch in me that does not produce fruit he removes, and he prunes every branch that produces fruit so that it will produce more fruit. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, and I in you. Just as a branch is unable to produce fruit by itself unless it remains on the vine, neither can you unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without me. If anyone does not remain in me, he is thrown aside like a branch and he withers. They gather them, throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you want and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this: that you produce much fruit and prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, I have also loved you. Remain in my love. If you keep my commands you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you these things so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete. This is my command: Love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this: to lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I do not call you servants anymore, because a servant doesn’t know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything I have heard from my Father. You did not choose me, but I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce fruit and that your fruit should remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he will give you. This is what I command you: Love one another.”” (John 15:1-17 CSB)
This is the seventh and last “I AM” statement given by Jesus in the gospel of John. Jesus said, “I AM the true vine…” Jesus is not just a vine. He is the true vine… true, meaning not counterfeit nor defective in anyway. There are many people and things that will claim to give us life… but only Jesus is the true vine. We (Jesus’ faithful followers and disciples) are the branches and God the Father is the gardener or vine dresser. Branches on a grape vine have one purpose: to produce fruit which blesses the consumer by receiving life from the vine. The vine dresser wants the branches to produce the best quality fruit possible, so He cuts away anything that would prevent the branch from producing good fruit. A branch has no ability to produce fruit on its own, much less survive. If a branch is severed from the vine, it withers and dies. Jesus is the true vine. It is by Him and through Him that we are able to fully live out our destiny and purpose. Apart from Jesus, we can do nothing of eternal value and are not able to produce fruit that glorifies. In order for us to fully be who we were created to be and fully live out our purpose, we must remain connected to the vine. How do we do that? By treasuring the Lord’s words within us, lovingly obeying His commandments, and thus abiding in His love. Jesus said, “You are my friends IF you do what I command you.” Christians love to claim to be Jesus’ friend… but Jesus will only claim you or me as friend if we obey Him… and His primary command is to love one another sacrificially… as He loved us. If we do that, we will be His friend, we will abide in His love, He will show us what He is doing so that we can partner with Him in it, and we will bear good fruit that will glorify God and be a blessing to those around us. We can’t fully obey His commands unless we choose to abide in Him… and we can’t fully abide in Him unless we obey His commands. As we choose to abide in faith, He gives us grace to obey, which strengthens our abiding relationship, which allows for more grace to obey, all the while submitting to the Father’s pruning in our lives… and on and on the cycle goes as we are transformed from glory to glory, bearing good fruit along the way.