In this section Jesus uses the analogy of a vine. In those times, wine making was a hugely important undertaking; one that most people would know something about. It involves a great deal of pruning in order to produce a crop of grapes, rather than a crop of branches, as the vine tends to grab territory. By pruning the branches, the vine will produce much more fruit. This analogy contains the following elements:
|Element||Vineyard Function||Represents||Function to the Christian|
|Vine||Give life to the branches||Jesus||Brings and sustains life to disciples|
|Branches||Bearing fruit||Jesus’ disciples||Carry on the ministry of Jesus by bearing His love|
|Gardener||Prunes the branches to encourage fruit growth||God the Father||Judges and cleanses the community of believers|
1-4: Jesus sets forth His analogy in this section. He indicates that the Father will do the pruning so that branches that bear no fruit will be eliminated and those that do bear fruit will bear even more. All of this is contingent on the branches remaining in the vine; Jesus. Being Jesus’ disciple requires that we remain in Him and that we grow in Him, otherwise we will be cut off.
5-8: This paragraph speaks to the necessity of spiritual growth for the Christian. We cannot bear fruit for Christ if we are apart from Him. Anyone who has had the experience of neglecting their relationship with Christ can tell you that nothing seemed to go right for them during this process. Trying to live apart from Christ, or at least neglecting the need to grow in Him results in all kinds of problems; marriage problems, personal problems, family problems and so on… It is as though we are branches that are cut off from the main vine; we just wither. However if we remain in Him, He will sustain us and answer our prayers giving us even more growth.
9-14: Jesus now tells us how to remain in Him: obey His commands! Think about it, how can you claim to love Jesus and follow Him if you neglect or disregard His commands? His greatest commend is that we love one another as He loved us. Remember that His love was not about His feelings, but was expressed in service and sacrifice. Do we serve and sacrifice for one another? The result of this will be joy, not heavy obligation.
15-17: In this fascinating passage, Jesus tells us that as His disciples, we move on from just being His servant to becoming His friend. This is because a servant just serves, but when we grow into discipleship we have learned all that He has to teach us; we now would know the Master’s business. Thus, we have graduated from the status of a mere servant to a “friend”. Of course the question is: Have we done enough growing yet? For most of us the answer would be that we still have a long way to go: Remain in Him and love one another!