ASV John 15:1 I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. 3 Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. 7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.
It’s all about Image! What is the Basic Image of Jesus in the Passage?
The basic image of Jesus inherent to this passage is one of spiritual sustenance, progress, and blessing.
Jesus as Spiritual Sustenance: Jesus is the one and only vine! Jesus is the true vine; the true salvation. Salvation apart from Jesus is not a reality, but a spiritually vain and fruitless human venture. Jesus is also our assurance. This is a natural fact: fruit quality is directly related to the quality and/or health of the branches; branch quality is directly related to the quality and/or health of the vine. In other words, the quality of fruit can never surpass the quality of the vine. It is in fact limited by it! Jesus is the vine, and in him there is the promise of quality that has no boundary or limit. Jesus is the vine and in him potential is unending!
Jesus as Progress: Jesus also facilitates discipleship (i.e., spiritual growth and discipline). The Father’s pruning occurs while the children are abiding in the vine that is the Son. Were it not for the vine, the branches would simply wither and die. They would not grow. They would not require pruning; dead branches need no pruning! Thanks to the vine, the branches do grow and consequently require the God’s pruning. This is progress! Jesus is the catalyst for this progress! Pruning seems an unpleasant prospect, but authentic Christian discipleship will reveal different issues and personal characteristics that will require sharp alteration in light of Christ’s call to authentic relationship and obedience. God’s desire for us all to live uprightly requires pruning. It doesn’t happen all at once! Too, pruning actually is required for a healthy branch to birth healthy, voluptuous fruit. Jesus is the progress leading to healthy branches and healthy, fat fruit.
Jesus as Blessing: Those who remain in Jesus are blessed; those who do not remain in Jesus are not blessed. The branch detached from the true vine withers and dies. A withered branch produces no fruit. It cannot sustain itself, much less fruit. So, the branch dies fruitless. There is no blessing to be found in a withered, dying, fruitless branch. It is cutt off, and tossed into the burn. A branch attached to the true vine is spurred toward growth. It grows and its healthy growth requires healthy pruning, which leads to even more growth and a much stronger branch. A strong branch produces healthy fruit. A strong branch can sustain health fruit. Healthy fruit blesses a strong branch! So, in Jesus Christ, our true vine, there is potential for much blessing too. We all like fruit, right?