7 “I am the true vine”
1: I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. 2: Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. 3: Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. 4: Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. 5: I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. 6: If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. 7: If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. 8: Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples. 9: As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. 10: If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love. 11: These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full. 12: This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. 13: Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. 14: Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. 15: Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you. 16: Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you. 17: These things I command you, that ye love one another.
The type of the vine was commonly used in Israel to describe the relation of God to his covenant people. In this part of Christ’s teaching to his disciples he declares himself to be the true vine. He says l am the True Vine and my Father is the husbandman. Christ continues the analogy saying that every branch in him that does not bear fruit. i.e. godly living under the mosaic law the Father will cut off from Israel so that ‘it’ - Israel may produce more fruit. Now that the disciples are clean through the word which Christ had spoken they are to remain ‘in’ the vine. Abide in me, and l in you, Christ says, because the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine. You will not be able to bear fruit of righteousness unless you abide in me says Christ. Then he says, I am the vine and you are the branches. Christ is saying, I am the Messiah and you are my followers and you will not be able to produce righteous deeds unless you abide in me, because without me you can do nothing. If a man does not abide in me then he is cut off and he withers and like dead branches he is gathered to be burnt in the fire. Now this cannot be said of any of Gods children who are saved. This is describing Jews who are living according to the law. If they do not live righteously they will be cut off from the ministry of Christ and they will face the fire of judgment. However Christ says to his own people, if you abide in me then you will be able to ask anything and it will be done unto you. The glory of the father is seen in the righteousness of the disciples. This is pure law. He says, If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love; in the same way that I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love. How very different to the situation that the christian finds himself in. He is accepted in Christ once and for all. His sins are forever forgiven. The disciples are to keep themselves in the fathers love by keeping the commandments of Christ. Christ says that these things are being said to you so that you might have the joy of God in your souls. Then Christ reiterates his commandment. This is my commandment, that you love one another, as I have loved you. He says, Greater love has no man than this that a man lay down his life for his friends. And you are my friends, if you do whatsoever I command you. Christ is saying you are my friends if you obey my commandments. This is not said to Christians under Grace. Christians under grace do keep the commandments of Christ, but not in order to be Christ’s friend but because they are in a saved relationship with Christ. Christ explains that he is not going to call them servants anymore because servants do not know what their Lord is doing. He says l am going to call you friends; because everything that I have heard from my Father I have made it known to you. Christ says to the Apostles, You did not choose me but I chose you, and ordained you, that you should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should be permanent and that whatsoever you will ask of the Father in my name, he will give it you. Its pretty certain that the Apostles didn’t understand what Christ was saying. He was saying that they are to go forth and produce righteous deeds that will bring glory to God. And that they are free to ask for anything and God will do it for them. Lastly he says, I command you - that you love one another. And so we have this amazing balance between All authority to command blessing and the injunction to love toward each other.